Emotional Eating

Are you an emotional eater? I have to admit I am. I know I am. There are days I accept it and admit it to myself – these days are easier, I know I’m only eating for the sake of it and I can… put… the… chocolate…down..! Other days when I’m in a whirlwind of the emotion it can be much harder to laugh off the impulse to be a guts for comfort.

Emotional eating can be a result of habit, low self-esteem like a punishment for yourself and to reward yourself after a hard day. Think about how often you snack. Is it just because it’s something to do, it’s there, or it looks good? And then you’ve eat it without even realising you’ve eaten it.


Our relationship to food plays a major role in how we see food and the way we consume food.

So how does this emotional dependence on food develop and how does our relationship with food change the way we eat it? It appears from talking to a number of friends, family and general rad people that we all seem to emotionally eat in some way. What I found interesting was hearing that when most people got to a point of independence as a young person they tended to rebel. Not just with sneaking out bedroom windows and jumping in muddy puddles but also via food. If our parents are really strict with food, discipline etc, then the more likely we are to associate eating the naughty/forbidden food with our own independence and a reward for self. Therefore as time passes we view the naughty food as a little reward to make us feel better and as an aid/crutch to help find ‘one’s self’ and happiness. (ps. I can’t believe I just wrote ‘one’s self’ – ha.)

The answer? To start understanding our emotional triggers. What’s yours? Long hard days? Difficult family and friends? The biggest thing is to stop punishing yourself for having that cheeky biscuit or five. Don’t make excuses, start by being honest with yourself. Say ‘ok, I’ve had a crap day, I don’t need that naughty food’ and give yourself ten minutes for some breathing time before diving in. It does help the impulsive behaviour… a little bit. If you can start to avoid or recognise those people that make you feel this way, that’s also a good start. Be honest and prepare yourself, even just having an awareness that this person is a trigger for an emotional spiral downwards will help. We all know the negative self talk can be the worst, but if you start to turn that negative into positive, it can challenge our emotions and start to move us away from the fridge towards maybe a walk, brushing our teeth, or calling a friend. Emotional eating really is learned behaviour, so with time these basic tools can help you adjust.

This self motivation stuff is so, so hard. But let’s start talking and taking small steps together, because sometimes knowing we’re all in it together can help too.

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