Sunday, December 2, 2012

Colleen's top tips to combat emotional eating

A good friend requested this post and since she is such a loyal reader- and since it was such an awesome idea- here we go!

Emotional eating is a dicey area for me especially and something I struggle with on a consistent basis.  Some weeks it's hourly or daily....other weeks it can be better.  And that's emotional eating in a nutshell, since it's so based on your mood at any given time it fluctuates as your moods do.   An interesting thing to keep track of is your moods at different times of the day and how that coordinates with your food choices.  Some people eat when they are angry, others when they are sad, still others when they are happy.  I have moments where I feel stuffed and I still have a strong urge to eat just....because "insert reasons here".  Does my silly, food obsessed brain need a reason?  Not always.

I find that I get more cravings when I am emotional which is why I put more focus on getting around that.  So, here are some tips in no particular order surrounding this challenging topic.

1.  Identify whether you are having a craving or if you are feeling actual hunger.  For example: are you craving food, perhaps even a specific type (like salty or sweet), and is it about time for you to be hungry?  On the flip side, is your body telling you that you MUST EAT REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS. NOW!!  If your brain (and tummy) is yelling out at you a very specific thing, this is a craving.   You may be hungry as well, but don't go for this craving before thinking through it first. You decide what you eat- not your craving!


2.  If you are hungry, drink some water with a sensible snack or meal (depending on time of day, whatever is appropriate).  Water is not only vital for your physical well being but it also helps fill up your stomach.  Drinking throughout the day and during meals is important and helps fill you.  For a sensible snack and meal remember to fill it with fruits, veggies, and lean protein to help you feel full and get great nutrition.

3. Understand how you react to cravings.  If you can substitute a similar item and it will go away, go for it.  If you can have just one bite then...congratulations for your will power!! The important thing is to know how you will react once you get that peanut butter cup (or substitute) in front of you.  Sometimes when I put in a substitute it just causes me to eat a TON of that instead, which isn't productive either. And occasionally I have a craving that won't go away and I eventually make the CHOICE to have a small amount of it and then I can move on.

4.  Avoid the kitchen!  When you are in your "red zone" state where you are ready to just eat everything in the kitchen....don't go there!  Keeping yourself physically out of the kitchen is half of the battle.

5. Distract yourself.  If you can feel that binge coming on or are really feeling down in the dumps and know it might lead to wanting to stuff your face, figure out some other activities you can do that make eating challenging.  If you are crafty- work on some new projects.  This could be crocheting, knitting, quilting, sewing, whatever you like to do.  Reading a good book - away from the lure of the kitchen- is a great distraction!

Pick your favorite!

6. Celebrate in other ways.  Figure out another activity you can do depending on your situation.  If it is a celebration with friends and family, remember it doesn't always have to be centered around food!  So many functions are, but this is totally unnecessary.  After dinner (or instead)....go on a walk or hike.  Or play Frisbee, soccer, volleyball, anything you enjoy doing with a group of people.  Go bowling or dancing!  Get moving and stay away from the endless table of food!

7.  Chew gum! Gum is a great way to keep from eating because you don't want to put food in your mouth when there is gum already there.  If you are home- brushing your teeth is helpful, too!

I love mint!

8. Keep away from the grocery store!  If you are feeling emotional and especially if you are actively having cravings....the grocery store is the worst place for you to be! You will buy stuff you don't normally buy (ie. chips, snacks, and candy) and will regret later.  Especially if you crack something open on the way home....We've all been there.

9. Call a friend.  We all have those special people in our lives that we can turn to no matter what.  Now is the time to call them and talk out what you are feeling.  It usually helps you feel better and will get your mind off food and stuffing your feelings with it.  When I was struggling the most in the beginning of my weight loss, I had a handful of clutch people that I knew I could call and they would talk me off my craving cliff.  Usually it was surrounding my terrible fast food addiction   I am so grateful for those that talked me through those tough times! Lean on those people who love you- they want to help!

10. Exercise!  Although this is last, it's my favorite and most useful tool!  Whether it's going out for a nice leisurely walk with my husband, getting a full fledged workout in, or maybe just pounding out a round of abs- this is a great way to get your mind off grumpy mood and desire to feed it with chips.  After you have worked up a sweat, you don't want to ruin it by stuffing your face!

Get moving!

What is your tip to combat emotional eating? 


  1. Ugh, I'm one of those people that eat for any and all reasons, boredom probably being on the top of the list. Staying busy helps me the most.

    1. yeah, boredom is definitely an issue for me and drives me to the kitchen a lot

  2. I am a bored eater too!!!! Great tips! I needed the Thank you! :)

    1. yay, glad it helped, Julie! Boredom eating is brutal!

  3. All I like is bad food and I want it all the time. There's clearly work to be done...