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5 Strategies to Overcome Emotional Eating

by Mara Welty June 02, 2024 5 min read

 Overcome emotional eating

Sometimes, you finish your day with a cocktail of stress, melancholy, and frustration swirling in your chest. When feeling such negative emotions , it’s easy to reach for the nearest source of comfort — food. Whether it’s a bowl of salty, vinegar-slathered chips or an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream, food becomes a soothing companion, offering temporary relief from the whirlwind of emotions.

The crunch, the creaminess, the burst of flavor — all provide a momentary escape from the emotional distress within. However, emotional eating is rarely an effective coping mechanism to manage your triggers. 

With sufficient awareness and commitment, it's entirely possible to break free from the cycle of emotional eating and cultivate a more mindful approach to managing your negative emotions.

#1 Practice Mindfulness

When breaking the cycle of emotional overeating, it’s critical to identify the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. The feeling of physical hunger is often gradual, building up to a crescendo of a grumbling stomach. Emotional hunger, however, can arise suddenly and feel urgent. You may crave something specific — like a greasy grilled cheese — and find comfort and satisfaction in only that item.

Oftentimes, emotional eating is punctuated by a feeling of guilt, rather than satisfaction or satiety. 

When identifying whether you’re eating from an emotional or physical need, ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I feeling right now? 
  • Is there an event or emotion that I’m avoiding?
  • Do I eat at unusual times or late at night?
  • How do I feel after eating?

Once you’ve identified the source of your hunger, you can act. If physically hungry, serve your mind and body with a surplus of nutrients that can help support both your physical and mental health. If you’ve identified an underlying emotion driving your cravings, you can practice additional mindfulness and mental health techniques, such as:

  • Practicing meditation and deep breathing 
  • Talking with a friend 
  • Spending time outside 
  • Engaging in creative activities 
  • Writing in a journal 
  • Moving your body 
  • Seeking professional support

#2 Incorporate Mindful Eating

Another similar albeit unique practice to overcome emotional eating is mindful eating. This method encourages slowing down and tuning into the present moment, including any physical sensations, emotions or thoughts that you may be experiencing as you sit down to eat. 

As you eat, pay attention to the color, textures, aromas and flavors of your food. Stay aware of your body’s cues and signals, too. If your stomach becomes full, acknowledge it and stop eating. 

Essentially, this practice encourages you to cultivate a deep awareness of your relationship with food. That said, the most important aspect of this practice is non-judgment. Acknowledge any emotions that arise before, during or after a meal, without rushing to suppress or numb them with food intake.

Instead, use self-compassion and curiosity. This might look like speaking to yourself with kindness, forgiving yourself for overeating and encouraging yourself to practice self-care to manage the stress that instigates and follows emotional eating. 

#3 Understand Your Triggers

Emotional eating triggers can be anything from specific emotions, such as stress, sadness or boredom, to certain situations or environments that harm your mental health. By identifying your triggers, you can become more aware of your emotional eating patterns and develop strategies to manage them effectively. To better understand your emotional eating triggers, you can:

  • Identify your triggers – Take into account the places, people or situations that created large emotions within yourself. Identifying common themes can help you pinpoint your triggers and practice more awareness of your emotional eating habits when they do arise.
  • Keep a food/mood journal – It may be beneficial to keep a record of your daily moods and food intake to identify a possible connection between certain eating choices and your emotional distress.
  • Reflect on your emotions – Take time to learn how your emotions influence your day-to-day habits, even beyond eating. Explore them in depth, and don’t be afraid of welcoming them into your present.
  • Seek support – If you’re having difficulty identifying or managing your triggers, consider speaking to a therapist or trusted friend or family member. Sharing your experiences with others can open doors to new solutions and help you explore your emotions in depth.

#4 Challenge Negative Thoughts

If you find yourself emotionally eating, it may be helpful to reframe negative thoughts, experiences and triggers with more compassionate and realistic perspectives. For example, if you make a mistake at work, view it as a learning experience rather than a condemnation of your character. 

Additionally, avoid shaming yourself after an emotional eating episode. Instead of labeling yourself as weak or out of control, remind yourself that binge eating is only a coping mechanism, and there are many accessible and healthy ways to address your uncomfortable emotions.

#5 Fill Your Kitchen With Healthy Foods

If you find yourself reaching for unhealthy snacks when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, fill your kitchen with healthy foods. This can help create an environment that supports your well-being and makes you more aware of when cravings arise.

That said, you don’t have to deem foods as either “good” or “bad.” It’s important to strike a more balanced approach in which you can indulge healthily in treats without negative feelings such as  guilt, regret or shame. 

Bolstering your diet with protein-rich foods can also help you increase satiety throughout the day, which may help to fend off cravings. To learn more about how to eat more protein on a daily basis, read our guide where we offer practical tips you can implement today. Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet doesn't have to strain your wallet. Explore our other article for practical tips on how to eat healthy on a budget if cost a potential obstacle for you.

Supplement Healthy Eating Habits With INVIGOR8

Emotional eating can be difficult to overcome, but it is possible. Approach your reset with self-compassion, and set aside plenty of time to reflect on your emotions, identify your triggers and practice mindfulness throughout the day.

When creating intentional eating habits, incorporate INVIGOR8. 

The INVIGOR8 All-In-One Organic Superfoods Powder is a protein and nutrient powerhouse. Every serving contains ample healthy protein powder ingredients to fend off cravings, including 20 grams of protein and essential vitamins. It’s also formulated with eight unique nutrient complexes, including cognitive enhancers to support your mental health healthy weight management, and muscle recovery.

It’s versatile, too! Add it to the healthy meals and snacks you love most, including acai bowls, baked goods, ice cream pops and more. Plus, with four unique flavors to choose from — Triple Chocolate Brownie, Himalayan Sea Salt, Natural Strawberry and French Vanilla — you’re sure to satisfy any craving. 

Create delicious and healthy eating habits with INVIGOR8.

 

Sources:

  1. Mayo Clinic. Weight loss: Gain control of emotional eating
  2. Kids Health. Emotional Eating
  3. Help Guide. Emotional Eating and How to Stop It
  4. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Mindful Eating
  5. Mount Sinai. Mindful Eating 

About the Author

 Mara Welty
Mara Welty

Mara Welty is a copywriter who specializes in health, wellness and CBD topics. With a background in journalism, she aims to deliver engaging, research-based content that builds trust and engages readers through informative storytelling.

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