Emotional Eating

How to Get Your Emotional Eating Under Control

Emotional eating is a topic that’s talked about a lot – especially in our fitness groups. It’s one thing having the knowledge and being aware of emotional eating, but it‘s also important to look at why we do it.

Why people eat emotionally as well as ways you can put a stop to it and improve your relationship with food.

What Is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating comes from stress, depression and pain. Whatever causes you to feel emotionally upset can trigger you to turn to food for an answer to make you feeling better rather than turning to a friend or loved one for help.

Where Does Emotional Eating Come From?

Emotional eating can stem from many different situations but one of the most common places it grows from is your childhood. Something as simple as your parents telling you that you ‘can’t have dessert until you’ve finished your meal’ could trigger emotional eating later in life because you’re having a restriction placed upon you.

We’ve been conditioned to think of food as a reward. Food is there to make us feel better and that’s what emotional eating is all about.

Emotional eating has obviously been linked to people being overweight. The more food you eat because of feeling emotional could lead to a negative relationship with food.

The problem with using food as a cure for feeling stressed is it’s only a short term fix to a long term problem. It gives you a short sense of relief but that’s all.

Emotional Eating Is A Reward Based Habit

Emotional eating distractions you from your immediate frustrations and gives you a sense of relief. People have been conditioned from childhood that they’re entitled to a food based reward. Here are a few examples…

  • Being allowed a dessert ONLY if you eat your dinner
  • Getting a sweet for being well behaved from the Dentist.
  • Having a chocolate for completed a piece of work on time.


It can feel as if food is taking control of your life.

Many people are known to go on bouts of emotional eating when they are alone. However, emotional eating can have profound effects when it comes to the social side of things.

Say for instance you go out for a meal with friends, and all your friends order a glass of wine with their meal. You know that you’re not supposed to allow yourself a glass of wine but you rationalise the reason for having a drink and feel obligated to do som because everybody else is having a glass.

So how do we combat emotional eating?

Eliminating emotional eating comes down to being aware of why you’re feeling hungry. Ask yourself ‘why am I craving this food?’ You’ll often find when people eat emotionally, they crave salty or sweet foods. So it comes down to being mindful when you feel you ‘need’ to eat salty or sweet foods. That could be your trigger.

You need to figure out if you’re ‘actually’ hungry or is it a sense of satisfaction you need? If you’re feeling lonely and feel the urge to emotionally eat – reach out and contact one of your close friends or loved ones.

Another great way to take your mind away from the thoughts of emotional eating is to go out in the outdoors.

If you’ve got a dog, you’ve got no excuse to going out and spending time outside.

Chill Out

You’ll find the act of just going outside or taking your mind away from food is going to destress both mind and body. Feeling exhausted or stressed? Why not have a long soak in the tub with some Epsom Salts? You can pick these up from most health stores for next to nothing.

As part of Next Level Performance, our team help our clients to work around emotional eating. It’s not a short term fix. We help you by building healthy lifestyle habits to put a long term stop to emotional eating. It’s much more than just giving you a nutrition plan to follow – it’s actually a lot to do with your psychology and conditioned beliefs around food.

For more great resources, please head over to my website www.rhysperrett.com or find me on Facebook!

Speak soon,

Rhys Perrett.

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