Emotional Eating 101: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Before we begin, I want you to draw a picture in your mind of what emotional eating looks like to you. How does it feel? When do you engage in it? What kinds of emotions do you experience when you are driven to eat? What kinds of foods do you crave?

Explore your idea of emotional eating for a moment.

What image came into your head? I’m guessing you most likely included stress, chips, or chocolate somewhere in that discussion.

Emotional eating has so many forms. You may emotional eat when you’re happy, sad, excited, lonely, stressed, bored, and so much more

Today, we’re going to explore the ins and outs of emotional eating and then help you take steps to making better peace with food.



The typical picture of emotional eating is someone sitting on the couch watching tv while eating ice cream or chips.

But, it’s oh so much more than that.

The actual definition of emotional eating is eating for anything other than biological hunger.

This could mean, you love to celebrate an accomplishment by getting some sort of food. Maybe a graduation, a passed test, or accomplishing getting your teenager through the school year once more.

Emotional eating can also be performed on the go. Maybe you’re running around like a crazy person to get things done and you grab some chips out the door, or a soda, or you snack on some m&ms in the car.

Maybe you’re stumped with a problem or issue you’re trying to solve and you turn to food to munch on while you figure it out.

So, your first step is to throw out the ideas you have around emotional eating being something you always do in secret with a pint of ice cream.



Have you taken the eating styles quiz yet? The first post in this series will really help you understand HOW you eat. If you haven’t yet, head on over and take it.

The key to getting a handle on emotional eating is to start recognizing the feelings associated with it.

What kinds of emotions drive you to eat most? What kinds of foods do you crave?

Typically, people crave sweets or crunchy things when they’re stressed, busy, or frustrated.

Many women report wanting chocolate or sweets when they’re feeling down.

Other times, we feel a desire to eat every time we celebrate something, or feel we deserve a treat for a job well done.

So, your next goal is to start paying attention.

Start paying attention to when your eating is driven by anything other than biological hunger. Don’t try to stop it, just notice it first.

Create a list of your biggest “culprits”. Then we can move on.

In fact, the free mini course “Overcome emotional eating” will help you do just that. Click the button below to take my free 5 day email course on emotional eating and what to do about it.




Once you’ve identified the emotions that drive you to eat, the next step is to start tackling them one by one.

Are you stressed? Instead of grabbing food, stop and notice that emotion. Pay attention to it before the food even hits your mouth. Then ask yourself if eating the food will serve you in a positive way. If you tend to feel guilty after eating emotionally or realize you shouldn’t have done that, then consider other methods of dealing with the emotion.

When you’re stressed, what helps you feel calm? Do you like to walk, read a book, or talk to someone? Maybe it’s even something as simple as taking 10 deep breaths and carrying on.

If you’re eating out of excitement or celebration, what other methods of celebration could you implement? Maybe you go out to a movie, out with friends, enjoy a little retail therapy (in moderation of course).

The key once you’ve discovered the emotion that drives you to eat is to then figure out what you can do to deal with that emotion with using food.

Truthfully, it’s all about awareness. If you realize what’s happening before it actually happens, then you can do something about it.

In fact, in the eating styles blog post, I talk all about that. Knowing HOW you eat will help you understand WHAT to do when you experience a particular emotion.

Create a journal or list with your methods of dealing with emotions. For stress, write out a few things that might help relieve it. For loneliness, anger, or frustrations, what tools can you use to deal with it?

The free mini Make Peace With Food course will help you understand two different ways to deal with your emotions the right way.




One last point I want to make is that not all emotional eating is bad.

In fact, it’s ok to eat when you’re not biologically hungry all the time.

Eating is a social endeavor. You eat at parties, you eat to celebrate, you eat to bring friends and family together.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

If you only ate when you were biologically hungry, you’d probably miss out on a lot of fun things in life.

So, the message I hope you gain from this entire blog post is that emotional eating is a “moderation in all things” concept.

Learn your eating styles, learn your hunger and fullness levels, and learn how to deal with your emotions in the non-food way. So, the next time you’re at an event, a celebration, or anything with food, you’ll feel confident and in control of what you’re doing.

Food should not be the enemy, but rather a great compliment to a fulfilled life.

Learn to create balance when it comes to your relationship with food. Learn to enjoy it when the time is right and deal with your emotions that drive you to eat anything that doesn’t serve you and your goals.

Stay tuned for our last post in the series, learning how to eat mindfully every day no matter how busy you are.