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5 tips to stop emotional eating [to fill a void]

Clients come to me with so much worry about their emotional eating. 

They know they are eating to fill a void. You know when you get in a trance and feel you need specific food. The experience is like being in a tunnel with your body on one side and the only vision you see is your food on the other side.

During the trance-like experience, your ears seem clogged, and your eyes focused only on finding food to satisfy you. Ironically you leave the eating episode still disappointed.


If you connect with this experience, you likely want to learn how to stop losing control. You know, so you can eat only one cookie instead of the whole box.

What is emotional eating to fill a void

Emotional eating to fill a void is attempting to use food to fill an emptiness and replace something that is lacking in your life or how you feel.

I’ve outlined 5 Tips to Help You Stop Emotional Eating to Fill a Void and decrease your chances of using food to address emotions.

1. Assess what happens when you eat to fill a void

You are overwhelmed and fear the long-term impact of your eating to fill the void. Your first step in understanding why eating to fill a void happens is to connect with what emotion you are trying to address by using food. 

By connecting with the emotion driving you to eat, you will be able to look for the factors leading you to emotionally eat.

2. Consider what factors lead to emotional eating for you

You are filling your body with food to replace whatever is missing or lacking in your body and life. By understanding how eating is a reaction to an emotional feeling you are experiencing, you can identify the factors you need to stop using food for emotions.

So to address this eating, consider what is REALLY  happening when you emotionally eat and what alternative options can be used

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5 Tips to STOP Emotional Eating to Fill a Void

3. Determine what to do instead of emotional eating to fill a void

By determining what to do instead of emotional eating, you have other strategies you can use. Try creating a list of activities you can do instead.

A few examples that may work for you include items such as:

  • listen to a calming music playlist
  • take a bath
  • call a friend
  • take a walk
  • take a nap/go to bed 

Now that you know what you can do instead of emotionally eating, let’s explore planning in advance to decrease emotional eating.

4. Advanced planning to avoid setting you up for emotional eating

Since emotional eating to fill a void is usually about something missing in your life, plan to address what is missing.  Many of my clients are missing enriching activities that engage the social and creative areas of their life.

Do you identify with the saying, “All work and no play” or “you can’t pour from an empty cup?”  All work and no play DOES NOT keep the doctor away. You cannot give to others if you do not “replenish your cup.”

This means you have to meet your self-care needs or you will look to fill them in other ways, and for you the filling in other ways is food.

By planning in advance and preemptively getting in your life what you are missing, food will not have as much power.

Sure, the challenge is finding the balance.  You tell yourself you need to take time for yourself and beat yourself up for going to food first. That judgment could be hurting you.

5. Remove judgment about emotional eating to fill a void

In order to stop emotional eating to fill a void, remove judgment about emotional eating to fill a void. This means you do not need to feel bad or talk poorly to yourself about emotional eating.

Emotional eating to fill a void is not always a problem. There is nothing wrong with emotional eating. Everyone emotionally eats.

Your harsh judgment and self-talk are more of the problem.  When you talk harshly to yourself, this berating does not help your emotional health.

Emotional eating cycle
Emotional Eating Cycle

This means that the way you talk to yourself impacts how you feel about your eating. Your self-talk can lead to more eating.  Consequently, you will have a vicious cycle fueled by your self-talk.

In this example, emotional eating is fueled by the harsh judgment that creates shame, which drives the need to feel better about yourself and how you nourish your body.


Your Action Step

In order to break the cycle, you stop placing judgment.  Remember, there is nothing wrong with emotional eating, everyone does it.  However, if you are concerned your emotional eating and judgment about your eating is a problem, following a few key strategies will minimize the feeling out of control and excessive use of food to fill a void.

Review the list above to help you Stop Emotional Eating to Fill a Void, even print the list out as a reference point. So the next time you are in an emotional eating situation, stop and think, could I be doing this to fill a void? Go through the list to use the list as a guide to help you identify what is happening.

If you think your use of food is more than just emotional eating and wonder if you have binge eating, you will want to read this article, What is the difference between binge eating and Binge Eating Disorder”

Find out how to regain control of your emotional eating to fill a void by scheduling a free discovery call here and starting your journey today.

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

Take the Emotional Eating Quiz

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.

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