3 Ways To Battle Emotional Eating (as featured on Blackgirlsrun.com)

Even though I consider myself to be pretty health-conscious when it comes to diet, I still have a complex emotional relationship with food. Last Monday, I had a really rough day at work (Strike 1!) and came home to a messy apartment (Strike 2!). Then I logged into my bank account online and remembered that it was “student loans week”: the week when a ton of my student loan bills come due. So needless to say my bank account -and my mood!- were drastically depleted (Strike 3!).

My first thought? Order some fried noodles with roasted pork. The thought of all that salty, warm goodness -to be followed by a large glass of red wine- brought me an immediate burst of happiness. What bills? What laundry? What work issues? I’d had a rough day- I deserved it! So there I was, sitting on my couch about to reach for my wallet and my iPhone. What stopped me? Well, a few things:

1. Emotional Eating Actually Makes You Feel Worse

You know that awful feeling you get when you’re looking down at an empty bowl of ice cream, or an empty Chinese food carton or an empty super-sized bag of chips?  That “what have I done???!!!” feeling? Yeah, not a good look. I don’t know about you, but I think the worst part of emotional eating is the aftermath.  It’s that feeling that stops me in my tracks when I get the urge to pig out.

2. Do Something Relaxing That Doesn’t Involve Food

Sometimes when I’m feeling like I might reach for food to feel better I just try and do something else that I know will relax me. On the Monday in question, I got off my couch and took a long, hot shower. This relaxed me enough that when I got out, I was able to put all those unhealthy food thoughts out of my mind and eat something healthy. Showers work for me, but it might be something different for you. Maybe for you it’s watching your favorite movie. Or -if you’re really good- maybe you’d enjoy going for a walk or a light run. Whatever it is, find something that relaxes you, so that you know what to do when you’re stressed and might reach for food.

3. Call a Friend / Journal

Instead of reaching for a glass of wine or a carton of ice cream- call a friend. Talk to him/her about what’s bothering you. Maybe take a walk to just vent to that person about your problems. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone about what’s bothering you, you can even have a dialogue with yourself by journaling. Getting your feelings out on paper might make you feel better and stave off the need for binge eating.

My (last) two cents

We all struggle with emotional eating/drinking. For me the first step has been to recognize when I’m eating because I’m hungry and when I’m eating because I’m upset/annoyed/[fill in negative emotion here]. Once you’re aware of what’s motivating you to eat, you’re better prepared to control your eating. And of course, if you’re really having a tough time, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapy can do more for you than overeating ever can.


***Have you ever struggled with emotional eating? How do you avoid temptation?***

Photo credit: Shape Magazine


About ChicFitChef

My "deserted island" checklist: a BCBG dress, a healthy & diabetic-friendly meal and a few workout DVDs. ;-)
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5 Responses to 3 Ways To Battle Emotional Eating (as featured on Blackgirlsrun.com)

  1. Marissa says:

    This post was really empowering for me, CFC! I struggle a lot with emotional eating, especially at present, and it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. I think I figured there was no way out of it, since it was just me, but now I know better! I’m going to try to make it a goal of mine to make myself a green smoothie and go walking with it the next time(s) I feel really stressed out/hungry.

    • ChicFitChef says:

      You are definitely NOT alone! Food (and drink!) are the most common ways that we all self-soothe when we’re stressed. If you find yourself emotionally eating don’t beat yourself up! Just be sure to have a strategy for the next time you are tempted to overeat. One of my friends recommended brushing your teeth! Sounded silly, but that minty taste in your mouth might be enough to deter you from buying take-out! 🙂 Keep your head up! -CFC

  2. Zenith says:

    What works for me is viewing food completely (and solely) through the prism of nutrition and energy. If I look at it and ask myself , “How will this serve my body in the physical sense?”, I am least likely to engage if it is not of substantial nutritional value. This kind thinking started as a way for me to feel better physically, then as a way to enhance my performance during workouts, then as a way to optimize my performance and has now become a way of life. It is no longer on my radar to associate food with emotions.

  3. CNK says:

    One other thing that is tough to do, too (at least for me), is to not approach emotional eating with an “all or nothing” approach. Sometimes I will realize while I’m emotionally eating that I am not hungry but rather feeling down/stressed/etc. I used to always say, “well, but you ate half of your General Tso’s [my bad day binge food of choice] already, so you might as well keep going.” Some of my most empowering moments have been those days when, after I realized what I was doing, I said, “nope, there’s no reason to finish this.” Usually, I pick up the phone and call someone to complain, which is really what I wanted to do all along. But it feels great to meet myself halfway and say, “yeah, I gave in a little bit, but not all the way.”

    And then I have to remind myself not to completely beat myself up over it after the fact. Everyone slips up sometimes. That’s life.

    Anyway, as usual, this was a great post. Keep it up, CFC. 🙂

  4. Pingback: How I Broke Up with White Cheddar Popcorn & How You Can Too | ChicFitChef™

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