Is Emotional Overeating Weighing You Down?

Are you:

  • Eating when you aren’t really hungry?
  • Struggling with stress or “nervous” eating?
  • Circling the kitchen because you can’t find “the thing” that will satisfy you?
  • Eating when you are bored, tired, frustrated, or procrastinating doing something else?
  • Hungry all the time-no matter what or how much you eat?

If so, it’s worth considering whether emotional eating is getting in the way of your healthy eating and weight loss goals. We all eat emotionally. We’re encouraged by friends, family, and the media to associate food with all sorts of warm, comfy, delicious things that are not simply a need for fuel. We’re taught to think of “comfort foods” and to reach for certain foods when we want to celebrate or gnaw away our frustrations. Emotional eating is a fact of life for most of us. But if it gets out of hand, it can TAKE the upper hand and become the primary factor behind your weight struggles.

If you are having a hard time with emotional overeating than you know what a vicious cycle it can be to break out of.

Remember that it IS a vicious cycle and apply these strategies to break free of the emotional overeating cycle and start walking a different path.

1. Call it emotional eating. If you are using food as a tool to cope with feelings or needs, than call it what it is. Once you identify emotional eating, let go of the other names you’ve been using-you know-the ones that leave you feeling awful about yourself, guilty, and maybe even ashamed. The issue is that you are an emotional eater. The issue is NOT that you are lazy, unmotivated, or undisciplined.

2. If you are going to change a pattern, you need to understand it first. This is why any diet you choose will probably fail you. A diet doesn’t teach you to listen to yourself and understand the pattern of your eating. A diet won’t help you understand what drives you to the kitchen after you’ve already eaten a meal. It won’t help you figure out what you are REALLY craving, feeling, or needing that isn’t even food. Taking the time to understand what’s really going on will help you craft a strategy where you address the CAUSE of your overeating. Programs like the Emotional Eating Toolbox? 28 Day Program can be helpful if you find that you need new tools or strategies to identify what’s going on or help creating alternatives to overeating.

3. Don’t just say no. No isn’t a strategy. To successfully take control of emotional eating, you’re going to need to decide HOW you’re going to not use food the way you’ve been using it in the past. What’s essential here is knowing what you will do INSTEAD of relying on food. Too many weight loss plans fail because of a lack of this type of planning. Make a list before you start your next weight loss attempt-or better yet-make it now. What are your trouble spots, triggers, and emotional eating cues? What can you try instead of turning to food?

Dr. Melissa McCreery is a Psychologist, Coach, and Emotional Eating and Overwhelm Eliminator for smart busy women. Are you struggling with emotional eating, overeating, and balancing work and life? Claim your easy-to-use audio series: “Five Simple Steps to Move Beyond Overwhelm with Food and Life” at


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