• 04-06-2015

    Are You an Emotional Eater?

    By Francesca Tomas, RPC RTC

    When you crave food, you're often at your weakest point. You feel stressed, bored, tired, depressed, or like you are in a difficult situation. When these feelings trigger your need to eat, you are experiencing emotional eating.

    When you eat because of emotions instead of hunger, it's common to eat too much and to reach for starchy and sugary foods that give you a temporary mood lift. You can end up consuming an enormous amount of calories and unhealthy fats. This frequently triggers the cycle of weight gain, depression caused by poor body image, and an increasing need to eat more emotionally. This is a really tough cycle to be caught up in.

    Emotional eating can temporarily suppress or soothe negative emotions including: 





    Anger; and


    Everyday life and major life events can trigger these negative emotions. They can spiral you into emotional eating and can sabotage your weight loss efforts.

    These triggers include:

    Work and or family stress;

    Relationship difficulty;

    Health problems;

    Sleeplessness; and

    Financial pressure.

    When you eat emotionally, you are trying to cope. This binge eating or rapid eating may help push down the uncomfortable emotions that you're trying to escape. What began as a single bout of overeating can easily become a pattern. You may begin to use food automatically whenever you feel an uncomfortable emotion like sadness, anger, or fear.

    When your emotions drive you to overeat, it only provides brief relief. But you'll always end up in the same place. You'll feel guilty, helpless, hopeless, and predictably gain weight. So, you overeat again. Are you ready to break this unhealthy cycle?

    Here are tips for breaking the cycle of emotional eating 

    Keep a food diary. This requires you to honestly track your caloric intake;

    Manage your stress through better sleep, diet, and exercise;

    Fight boredom - analyze when and why you feel bored and plan alternative activities;

    Keep unhealthy foods that are high in fat and sugar out of your house;

    Have an occasional treat if you can really keep it an infrequent pleasure;

    Have healthy food available to snack on;

    Find alternative ways to feel better quickly such as exercise, socializing, and watching comedy;

    Pack your own healthy lunch and snacks for work;

    Get support from friends, family, or support groups;

    Learn from your setbacks;

    Keep a journal to release emotions; 

    Seek professional help.

    If you still can’t end your emotional eating, consider therapy with a professional mental health provider. Therapy can help you work through negative emotions that keep you stuck. It can also help you develop a plan to end the behavior successfully. 


    Francesca is hosting a 2-session workshop June 2015, "End Your Battle with Food and Lose Weight." Learn more here.

    Photo Copyright: bds / 123RF Stock Photo

    Copyright © Francesca Tomas RPC, RTC 2015