How To Cope with Emotional Eating

Who here likes to eat their feelings?

Y’all feel me though right?! Emotional eating. Let’s talk about it.

Emotions are SO CLOSELY related to food. From being excited about your parents letting you eat candy when you’re young, getting a special treat when you won your soccer game, your mom taking you out for ice cream when your first boyfriend broke your heart, the emotions you feel eating the Christmas cookies your grandma used to make herself, the relaxation you feel as you sip that glass of wine, the guilt (and possible hangover) you feel when you have a few too many glasses.

For most of us, food = feelings and memories. The good, the bad and the ugly, if we feel it, we’ve probably eaten something to go along with it.

How do i cope with emotional eating?

I’ve shared my journey with binging, eating disorders and cutting weight previously, so I won’t dig in to those topics here. But obviously, emotional eating ties right in with a history of eating disorders. And while I hope that you do not have a full blown eating disorder, many of us find ourselves stuck in a cycle of emotional eating OR just know that if a stressful day hits—we’re done for. So how do we: one, get out of the emotional eating cycle and two, prepare ourselves so that the next time the tough emotions come a-knockin’ (because we know they inevitably will), we aren’t waist deep in Doritos by the end of the night?

When the emotions have taken over and you’re already Eating your heart out:

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

This is one of those “easier said than done” moments. I get it. Because I have friends and family say this to me at LEAST once a week. So take it from the Queen of Unnecessarily-Hard-On-Myself Land—STOP beating yourself up! It will not make you stop eating your feelings, it will only cause more shame/guilt/desire to eat yourself into oblivion. Trust me.

When you feel the need to feed coming on but catch yourself:

Channel your emotions into something other than food.

Stressful work meeting causing you to make a beeline for the candy bowl? Take a walk (to somewhere other than the kitchen). Call a friend and TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS (novel idea isn’t it?). Pet a dog, any dog will do, they all love pats. Start writing a blog about how to stop emotional eating (hi, hello, I’m Taylor and I write about what I’m going through!).

When you’re questioning the meaning of life post-Food Coma:

Ask yourself: what am/was I avoiding by eating?

When I was deep in my eating disorders, I wasn’t actually upset with my body. Yes, I 100% took my emotions OUT on my body and used food as the vehicle through which I could channel my inner turmoil and then focus all my attention on my body. Something I could fix, something I could control. You know what I was really running from though? Years of anxiety caused from traumatic experiences: my mom getting breast cancer when I was young, my parents never being together, growing up feeling different than my friends because I only had one parent, feeling like a mistake for being born. Those were some DEEP SCARS. But instead of digging into those pains, I turned to food, binging, purging, and hating myself. Because those were things I could touch, feel, taste. Emotions are not so tangible (sadly, because I’d love to know what joy ACTUALLY tastes like! I’m guessing something like birthday cake and 4th of July potluck food. Not at the same time. That’d be gross.)

When you’re feeling more self-aware, this step can be used BEFORE you start eating those feelings. Because as we know, if you’re eating emotions, something is causing you to feel that way. Maybe it isn’t something happening in the moment or maybe it is. But through practice, patience and self-compassion, you can start to slow down and ask yourself, What’s really going on here? And maybe you’ll still want to eat that pint of Ben and Jerry’s! I’m not stopping you. But I hope that you’ll also be able to really lean in to whatever is at the ROOT of your desire to eat.

Chances are, you won’t feel the need to binge anymore. You’ll feel super proud of yourself for being so in tune with your ~~feEeEeLiNgS~~.

How do you cope with emotional eating? Drop me a comment below and tell me what works for you! I’d love to hear :)