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The 3 secret tips to free yourself from emotional eating

Posted on November 10, 2013 by Prue Eddie

Emotional eating is a major cause of heartache for people who come into the clinic.  Let’s face it, most of us have been there at one stage or another.  Not only are you already feeling sad or upset about something, you then feel even worse by over-eating all the wrong things, a packet of chocolate biscuits, a tub of ice-cream or both and then feel guilty about it.  As an ongoing habit it can lead to increased weight gain and predispose to obesity.  Sometimes people believe they are physically hungry, when in fact they have a hunger for something deeper.

So how do we change these habits and make more conscious choices which lead us on a path to happiness?

1.  REALISE – Am I really HUNGRY?

People often confuse hunger with boredom, loneliness, joy, fatigue or thirst.  Have you gone to the fridge and the pantry and can’t find anything that seems like it will hit the spot?  I’m guessing you are not that hungry after all.  Everyone else is eating, you should too, right? Wrong!  Getting to the bottom of why you are eating is an important start and follow this one simple step, if you are not hungry, wait for a signal that you are.

2.  RECOGNISE your emotions

So you just asked yourself if you were hungry and you got a resounding NO as a response.  Firstly you should congratulate yourself for your insight and for not following your old unhelpful pattern.  Then ask yourself, how do I feel?  Allow yourself to experience the emotion you were feeling in the moment you almost dialed the local take-away shop.  Then take some time-out to reflect on what comes up for you.  This may be a revelation for you, it may be uncomfortable.  Don’t worry if it is a bit of a shock.  If it is too much at the time, you have permission to distract yourself, however set aside some time in the future to address this issue.

3.  REVIEW – Write it down

The process of keeping a food diary can be very enlightening if you are completely honest with yourself.  The best part is, no one has to see it but you.  Great things to include are what you eat, how much you consumed, the time of day as well as when you thought you were hungry – then realised you really weren’t (well done).  You may be able to establish patterns to your hungry habit, before your stressful work meeting, hanging out socially with a group of friends makes you eat more, or late at night in front of the TV makes you delve into a packet of chips.  If it is due to stress you can try relaxing activities such as listening to music, breathing techniques, exercise or meditation.  If you have a weekly dinner with friends, suggest you go for a walk together first, or go out dancing to build up an appetite.


Please note, this guide is not intended to replace support for serious emotional issues that require professional treatment.  Please contact the clinic if you feel that you are in need to further assistance.