• Kelly O'Donnell

Stop emotional eating.

Ways to Stop Emotional Eating

“Mindfulness” is a popular buzz word these days, but there is good reason for it.


“Mindfulness” means being fully aware in the present moment and fully accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is a great tool for breaking free from emotional eating. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice and patience. Here are a few tips to incorporate mindfulness into your relationship with food.


1. Keep a food log. In the beginning of this journey, writing down what you eat can be extremely useful. You can learn when you are emotional eating and look for patterns. This can help you become aware of triggers and emotions that may be causing emotional eating.


2. Breathe. The next step is to use your breath to get through tough cravings. When you notice a craving, acknowledge it and accept it. Then, start to notice your breath. It is sometimes helpful to count your breath. Counting ten breaths – in and out – can help you get out of your head and into your body. You calm your nervous system, and decrease the craving.


3. Identify your emotions and act accordingly. Noticing cravings without acting on them gives you a great opportunity to learn more about what is causing emotional eating. For example, imagine you are sitting at your computer at work and have an intense craving for chocolate. The craving can act as an alarm to pay attention! Ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” Bored? Isolated? Physically uncomfortable? Stressed? What will help? (Probably not chocolate.) Get up and do what you REALLY want. Perhaps you need a break, some fresh air, a stretch, connection with another person.


4. Accept emotions. The reason we emotionally eat is to avoid an uncomfortable feeling. When we learn to be mindful and non-judgmental of these emotions they lose their power over us. Once you can say to yourself “I feel lonely. It is OK. It will pass. Maybe I should call a friend”, you will no longer be imprisoned by emotional eating. It is the awareness that gives you the control. Awareness, acceptance, and non-judgement is the key to stop emotional eating.


5. Pay attention to how you eat (not just what you eat). When you are eating, chew slowly. Be mindful of the taste, the texture, the smell, and the colors of the food. When you eat slowly, it gives your body the time it needs to send the signal to your brain that you are full. Slow down and you will eat less. Never eat out of a bag, standing in the kitchen, in front of the TV, or in your car.


6. Be nice to yourself. If you find it difficult to be mindful, don’t worry. It gets easier with practice. Follow the previous steps, and before you know it, you will be on your way to better health and weight loss. Negative self-talk will always sabotage your efforts to be healthy. Just be kind to yourself for better results.