How to Overcome Emotional Eating

by | Dec 20, 2021

Do you struggle with emotional eating? Although we are not licensed therapists, we do encounter this topic quite often with our clients. Read on to learn more about why you might be emotionally eating and learn useful tactics to overcome it.

Emotional eating

What is emotional eating?

Emotional eating is the tendency to respond to stressful and negative feelings by eating, even when not physically hungry. Some experts estimate that around 75% of overeating is linked to emotions.

We have identified that the root cause of emotional eating is this: emotions. Okay, although that sounds pretty obvious, we had to point it out just to be clear.

Now, if emotions are the root cause of emotional eating, will sucking on ice cubes help us stop eating more? Will eating rice cakes prevent us from eating a whole bag of chips? Will drinking a huge glass of water prevent us from eating a slice of cake? Probably not. We’re not here to tell you ways to prevent emotional eating by skirting around your emotions. If the root cause is emotions, then emotions are what need to be addressed.

Sigmund Freud once said, “Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and they will come forth later in uglier ways.”

With that insight, we’re going to share some tactics that might help you to address your emotions that may have been “buried alive.” Once emotions are well-managed, you may find that you no longer emotionally overeat and that you don’t need silly ways to distract yourself from eating that piece of cake.

Tactics to Overcome Emotional Eating

Identify your emotions

What are they and where are they coming from? If you are only familiar with basic feelings such as happiness and sadness, you may not know what you’re feeling. We recommend Googling a list of emotions from which you can identify the ones you might be feeling.

Fun fact: there are at least 27 distinct emotions, so get ready to finally feel some satisfaction in putting a name to that emotion you’ve been experiencing. Experts say that simply identifying the feeling can lead to uncovering the reason why you feel that way. This may lead to conversations with family or friends that you need to resolve conflict with, or it may lead to greater awareness about how you respond to stress and other events.

Learn to manage your emotions

Depending on what emotion you’re feeling, you may use different tactics to manage it. If you’re stressed, which is one of the most common emotions people are feeling lately, the following tips might help to manage that stress:

Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins that help us to feel happy. Low-to moderate-intensity exercise also helps to reduce the production of stress hormones. In addition, exercise can contribute to better sleep. With less of those stressful hormones running around and better sleep, you might find you have a lower tendency to engage in emotional eating.

Meditation

Meditation and other relaxation techniques can help you manage stress, which will reduce emotional eating. In addition, meditation can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. We recommend including a short meditation session once or twice a day to reduce stress and to become more aware of your feelings.

Connecting with others

Many therapists say that addiction is the opposite of connection. Some people feel emotional eating is their addiction. Finding ways to connect with others including friends, family, or people overcoming similar struggles, can be key to your success. If you are often isolated from others, find ways to reach out and participate in the community, church, or other organizational events and communities. There is meaning behind these connections and relationships that cannot be found elsewhere.

Seek professional help

Professional therapists practice cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been found to be an effective treatment for emotional eating. This therapy helps individuals change their way of thinking about certain things. If you’re struggling to manage your emotions through the ideas listed above, this might be the best next step.

In Conclusion …

There are a lot of ways to address emotional eating. We recommend first trying something on this list that sounds doable for you. Please feel free to reach out if you are struggling with emotional eating, and we’d love to connect!

Want to request an appointment? Click here!

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