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7 Steps to decrease your emotional eating

Emotional eating is something that everyone does, occasionally.

You may wonder how to decrease your emotional eating on a daily basis.  Feeling out of control around food and like you cannot ever get enough is overwhelming.

Perhaps you identify with the food never really satisfying you.  Even though you are physically full, you just keep wanting more. Day after day the cycle repeats (for more on the cycle see [Why I can’t stop eating])

Saying you will not emotionally eat is not realistic.  Creating a realistic plan to avoid emotional eating can help decrease the anxiety connected with your eating episodes. 

When I work with clients to help them address their emotional eating, we typically follow these 7 steps below to help them minimize their emotional eating.

Here are the 7 Steps to help decrease your level of emotional eating.

1.  Determine what void your emotional eating is trying to fill

Emotionally eating to fill a void is usually about something missing in your life. So the answer to resolving the challenge of emotional eating is to develop a plan to address what is missing. 

A few of the common themes that are a struggle include lack of planning around snacks and meals, not enough sleep, lack of support, and missing creative or social enrichment time. By creating time in your life to address these important practices, you are taking the first steps to achieve your desired outcome.

2. Develop a plan that gets at the source of your emotional eating struggle

The benefit of setting a realistic plan is that you are being practical with your expectations. Instead of trying to avoid emotional eating altogether, try a goal of decreasing how often.

3. Snack and meal planning  decrease emotional eating

When you snack and meal plan, you have more successful outcomes with your food selections. Fueling your body with some advanced planning of snacks and meals helps to minimize the last-minute scramble. 

When you are really hungry and stressed,  you are more challenged with making decisions that feel good for you.

Planning for success is setting your intentions for what you want in your daily life.

  • Plan meals and snacks in advance to have easily prepared food items close and on hand. By planning out your food options for meals and snacks, the advanced thought decreases your chances of just grabbing any old food available.
  • Typically advanced planning provides more variety and balanced food selections. By having more balanced options, you will be more satisfied with your foods, which helps to decrease the biological hunger drive to get more food.    
  • Determining what times of the day, week, and year lead to more stressful feelings creates awareness. By being aware of the more challenging times, you can have food items and simplified practices planned in advance to help navigate with more success.
Setting a realistic plan to minimize chaotic food choices feels good

Determining what times of the day, week, and year lead to more stressful feelings creates awareness.

By being aware of the more challenging times, you can have food items and simplified practices planned in advance to help navigate with more success.

4.     Prioritize sleep to decrease emotional eating

Missing sleep is a recipe for struggling with emotional eating.  Feeling rested helps to ensure your body and mind have time to replenish energy stores.  The energized and refreshed body decreases your chances of grabbing food to meet your need for energy.

Besides, most of your emotional eating is at night. What do you think would happen if you went to bed instead of sitting on the couch with a bag of chips and dip? Work on obtaining the proper amount of sleep for you.

Getting more rest provides your body and mind with time to repair and unwind. Then you are able to connect more with family and friends.

5. Utilize support from family and friends  

A realistic plan is one that supports you for the long haul. Nobody can navigate life by themselves without any support.  Part of the struggle with emotional eating is due to being lonely and feeling isolated.

Do not be afraid to reach out to a loved one to help you when need an errand run, help with a chore or even just to listen to you while you vent.

If you feel you do not have supportive family or friends, make a goal to develop some new connections.  Remember, not feeling you have the support of others is one reason you may struggle with emotional eating. You can put a plan in action to optimize support and address emotional eating at the same time.

6.  Create more opportunities to enrich your creative side and social connections

Many of my clients are missing enriching activities that engage the social and creative areas of their lives.

All work and no play do NOT keep the doctor away.

Try new hobbies to find healthy ways to fill the void.  Make sure to plan activities that give you joy and enrichment such as a gentle yoga class, painting, attending a movie, or even visiting a museum.

7. Obtain professional help for optimal support with emotional eating

Many people struggle in silence with emotional eating due to feelings of guilt and shame. Professionals are skilled at helping you identify patterns you may not be able to see and solutions to address the challenge.

There are many support professionals, including dietitians who specialize in emotional eating, like me, who can help guide you on your path to feeling comfortable with your eating and emotions.

By building your skills and working with a professional with expertise in the area, you can make changes faster than trying to navigate the journey on your own.  Utilizing support and building skills helps you develop self-care skills that will serve you for a long time.

How do you put this all together?

Start working on developing your realistic plan by targeting 1 or 2 strategies above for a few months.  As you feel more comfortable, add another item to your practice.

Finding a realistic plan to stop emotional eating is about working on addressing what may be missing in your life.

So the next time you find yourself grabbing your bowl of ice cream, take a moment to ask yourself if you are living a life with a realistic approach.  A life that takes a practical approach to emotional eating by doing a little bit of planning, working on support, and tending to your self-care needs.

Maybe you prefer to have an expert working with you to navigate your emotional eating and find solutions that work for youSchedule a discovery call 

Kathryn Fink Martinez

Conquer food fear and overwhelm! My passion is helping guide people who are embarrassed about their struggle with food and teaching them simple habit changes that lead to a life with more energy, happiness, and the freedom to eat the foods they truly enjoy. Find a realistic food and exercise approach and remove the uncertainty about what to eat. Get started with some of the free resources on my Confidence in Eating website, especially the Bariatric Success Guide., Emotional Eating Quiz, and Binge Eating Quiz resources. I offer telehealth nutrition programs so you can live your life knowing how to nourish your body, mind, and soul.