You are currently viewing 3-step plan instead of emotional eating

3-step plan instead of emotional eating

You know emotional eating is not what you want to do, but what should you do instead?

Start by following this 3-step plan below of what to do instead of emotional eating so that you have a strategy and are ready when your emotions hit you and you instinctively reach for food.

No amount of vegetables, rice cakes, or protein shakes compares to your favorite “go-to” food. This is why using replacement food when you are emotionally craving food to fill a void does not work.

So the key to doing something besides emotionally eating is to have a strategy planned in advance of activities you would ACTUALLY DO!

Creating your 3-step plan will help you find alternative strategies besides food

When finding your alternative strategies, you will need to do some advanced planning, when you are not super stressed.  Right now you can start with a basic template.

Try using the following 3-part outline to draft your success plan.

1. Discover what emotion your emotional eating is trying to fix

Start your plan by determining what triggers you have that produce heavy emotions you use food to address. 

Consider what feelings you experience when you have to work later than expected, don’t get a promotion you were hoping to receive or miss an important appointment.

These emotional situations can lead to feelings of frustration, sadness, disappointment, and overwhelm.  Now that you have a few ideas, take a few minutes to write down and identify additional triggers you experience.  

Everyone uses emotional eating from time to time

Do not get too worried if you do not have all the answers now.  At least you know some of your sensitive experiences that trigger an emotional response. 

After you identify several of your triggers, you can move on to connecting those feelings to a possible alternative solution besides food.

2. Connect feelings with something besides food

Now that you have a few triggers and their emotions identified that lead you to emotional eating, you can come up with strategies to address those specific emotions.

List your emotions on a piece of paper and come up with activities that could help lessen the physiological response.

EmotionAlternate activity
FrustratedSqueeze stress ball
SadListen to uplifting music
Overwhelm5 minutes of deep breathing
AngerBeat rug against wall
DisappointedGratitude Journal
ScaredCall a friend to vent
AnxiousDraw, knit, or other hobbies
Alternate list of activities

Add to your list items specific to you. Continue to build on your list as you discover new emotions and alternative activities to complete besides eating.

Now that you have a basic list created, develop your strategy to put your alternate plans to do something instead of emotional eating into action.

3. Put your alternative plan to stop emotional eating into action

Now that you have an alternative plan, you are ready to set your plan into motion.

Start by placing your alternate strategies list in helpful locations.  Think about locations you frequently eat for emotions.  Try placing a copy of the list on your refrigerator, in your car, on your desk at work, or on your phone, and maybe even place your list as your screensaver.


The next time you find yourself in the middle of an emotional eating spiral, grab your list and try a few of your strategies.  Often you will find that after a few minutes of doing another activity besides eating from your list, the drive to eat diminishes.

Keep in mind that you may not completely lose the desire for food. However, if you can create some mindful moments and time for yourself, the delay is often enough to reduce your drive for eating. The dealy is created by using alternate activities and is similar to “How mindful breathing can help you with emotional eating.”

The eating delay, paired with completing an activity to address the emotion you are experiencing, provides another approach besides using food.

The key to success is being kind to yourself and understanding that there is nothing wrong with emotional eating. 

Everyone uses emotional eating from time to time. 

However, if you feel overwhelmed and out of control with your emotional eating and want help stopping, schedule a time so we can talk about your next steps.

Take our free emotional eating quiz to find out if YOU are an Emotional Eater

Take the Emotional Eating Quiz

If you are looking for more information on emotional eating read these articles

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.