Cravings Crusher: 5 Ways to Conquer Your Emotional Eating Habits

We’ve all been there. Whether it was a rough day at work or a difficult conversation – sometimes food is what we turn to in order to fill the emotional void. Eating releases dopamine – the chemical in our brain that makes us feel good – so it’s natural that you’ll feel better temporarily, but this doesn’t last long. When eating is your primary coping mechanism, you may get stuck in a cycle that feels impossible to break out of.  

Emotional eating occurs when you eat in response to your emotions rather than hunger. While immediately heading to your pantry or fridge may seem like the only solution in these moments, eating won’t fix the feelings that triggered you to eat in the first place. Often, it may compound these emotions with guilt and shame. The more we use food to cope, the more automatic the behavior becomes, and the harder the habit is to break. 

If you are wondering if you’re an emotional eater ask yourself:

  • Do you experience urges to eat even when you are not physically hungry?
  • Do you feel out of control around certain foods?
  • Do you struggle to feel satisfied despite eating past fullness?
  • Do your urges to eat come on suddenly?
  • Do you use food as a reward?
  • Do you often feel guilty or powerless after eating?

If you feel this way, you’re not alone! By becoming more mindful of your emotional triggers and adopting alternative coping mechanisms, you can conquer the emotional eating cycle for good. In order to achieve this, you must first recognize what your triggers are. 

Keep track of your emotions when the urge to emotionally eat arises.

Are you tired, stressed, or bored? Sometimes emotional eating happens before you even process what you’re doing. Ask yourself what emotions, situations, and environments increase your urges to emotionally eat. Becoming more mindful of your habits allows you to become better aware of how to control them. This takes practice, be honest and kind to yourself. 

Overcoming emotional eating may seem overwhelming at first, but it is completely possible for anyone.

Below is a list of 5 ways to conquer emotional eating once and for all:

  1. Prioritize getting enough sleep.

Sleep is vital to all aspects of your life. Getting enough sleep can help reduce stress, improve mood, and allow you to think more clearly. Additionally, getting enough sleep can help regulate your appetite and reduce cravings.

  1. Make a list of alternative coping strategies for your emotions outside of food. 

Is it going for a walk? Calling a friend or family member? Cleaning the house? Make a list of ideas for yourself so that if an urge arises, you have a plan. You’ll find that there are other ways to fulfill yourself emotionally without involving food. 

  1. Make a plan for yourself.

Be mindful of what food you have in your house and what foods you often turn to for comfort or tend to overeat. Additionally, if you know there will be potential triggers during your day, make a schedule for your day ahead of time. If you struggle with planning or even knowing what to eat, my nutrition coaching can help to give you full clarity in what, how much, and when to eat. Learn more about my unique approach to fix your metabolism by heading here.

  1. Eat balanced meals regularly.

Making sure that you are eating enough is an important regulator. You may experience higher cravings at certain times of the day if you haven’t eaten enough. Additionally, eating in regular intervals, and eating nutrient-rich foods can leave you feeling more satisfied and reduce cravings. If you need inspiration for easy snacks to make eating consistently easier, check out our metabolism boosting snack list here.

  1. Move your body.

Physical activity helps release endorphins which can improve your mood, lower your stress levels, and help you feel more energized. Movement doesn’t have to be anything intense. You can go for a short walk, stretch, or practice mindful yoga. Take time to notice how implementing movement throughout your day makes you feel. 

Forgive yourself for the negative emotions you have surrounding emotional eating. Emotional eating does not mean you lack willpower. Just because you’ve tried to resist urges in the past and failed, doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. Through self-awareness, self-compassion, and dedication, you’ll find that you have more power than you think. You are fully capable of challenging your habits, finding new strategies, and transforming your mindset into one that will help you break the cycle once and for all.

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This article was written by Ava Stover, nutrition intern. Fact checked by Allison Tallman RD.

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