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Fave Five Friday: 5 Steps To Combat Emotional Eating

Posted Nov 30 2012 12:27pm



Fave Five Friday: 5 Steps To Combat Emotional Eating



Again I’m doing something different for this weeks Fave Five – this is more like my “Five Recommended” than “Fave” per se, but I think/hope you will all enjoy this edition and find it very useful too! :)

Ok. So let’s all take a moment to just laugh to ourselves at actress Kristen Wiig stuffing her face.. Yes, we’ve all been there before… or we maybe go there every single day around 9:00 PM – to the Land of Emotional Eating.

What is “emotional eating” exactly?

Emotional eating is the desire to eat that is not related to true hunger.

Unfortunately, emotional eating does not mesh well with weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. It begins a vicious cycle of eating when unnecessary, which can lead to weight gain, which then leads to guilt, which ultimately leads to more emotional eating, and so on. The key is to break the emotional eating cycle by getting to the root of it and stopping the eating before it starts!

First I’d like to do a little quiz with you!

Oooh fun, and interactive! Answer the following statements with a YES, SOMETIMES or NO and see where you rate in the “Are You An Emotional Eater?” quiz!

1. I eat, even though I’m not hungry

2. I eat when I’m bored

3. I feel my eating is out of control

4. Stress makes me want to eat

5. I get the urge to eat while watching TV

6. I have been known to eat when I’m angry as a way of dealing with frustration

7. I find myself eating when I’m depressed or sad

8. I use food as a reward to myself

9. I use food to celebrate

10. I crave certain foods when I’m emotionally upset. (e.g. salty snacks, sweets, chocolate)

11. I would rather eat than express my feelings

12. I think about food a lot

13. I have been known to binge at times

14. I feel embarrassed about my eating habits

15. Food helps me deal with stressful situations

16. I don’t feel in control of what I eat

17. I obsess about my favourite foods

Soooo… how many times did you answer “YES” or “SOMETIMES”? If it was 9 or more times, then your emotional eating habits should be addressed!

These FIVE steps help target the cause of emotional eating and create a plan to prevent it from happening more.


Step One: Identify Emotional Eating Triggers

Figure out what starts the emotional eating. Does it happen when you are bored? When you are feeling upset about something that happened? When you are depressed? When you are celebrating something? When you are angry or frustrated?

Keep a journal of your eating patterns and see if your bingeing or poor food choices often coincide with when you are feeling a certain way. Often being in a certain mood or after a particular event is when emotional eating hits its peak. Once you’ve identified when it starts, you can focus on changing the way you respond to these moods and situations.


Step Two: Plan Alternatives

Alright, now that you have identified the triggers, you need to make a game plan! Find alternative activities so that you will have another option than eating the next time the situation or feelings arise. If you know that you eat when you are angry, the next time you get angry about a situation, plan to call a friend to vent, go for a run, knit a sweater, or go for a drive to let off steam rather than take it to the fridge!


Step Three: Limit Your Trigger Foods

If you know that you always go for that same old food choice when you are feeling these emotions that drive you to binge or eat, do not keep it/them in the house or easily available. If you know that an ice cream sandwich, or peanut butter on toast, or that bag of your favorite chips is the food you always go for, get rid of it! If these “comfort foods” aren’t available for you, you will have less of a desire to eat, or might even choose a healthier option if you can’t preoccupy yourself with an activity instead.


Step Four: Do Not Skip Meals

Skipping meals causes ups and downs in blood sugar levels, which leads to cravings. Skipping meals also almost always leads to overeating or making poor food choices later on. Curb the opportunity to binge just by making sure you are eating small meals every few hours.


Step Five: Always Make Eating A Positive Thing 

That picture is just way too cute – I had to choose it for this last step!

If eating often brings about feelings of guilt, shame, or other negative thoughts, focus on changing these to positive thoughts by giving yourself positive reinforcement. Remember that food is here for us to THRIVE, and it should be an enjoyable, wonderful, and positive thing!

When you are making the best, healthy choices, tell yourself “this is good for me, I feel great, I am energized, my body is happy”. Keeping positive will help ward away the negative emotions that trigger the emotional eating rollercoaster.


I hope you have found this post informative and inspiring! Target your emotional eating and you’ll be well on your way to better health and overall wellness!


Have a fantastic weekend!!


Nutritionist in the Kitch


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