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Overcoming Emotional Eating: Strategies for Success

Creating a calorie deficit is a cornerstone of many fad diets. If you’ve ever Googled “how to lose weight,” you’ve probably stumbled across some interpretation of the concept.

Signs of emotional eating

Most of us will eat to fulfill an emotional need at some point in our lives. Maybe it's a pint of ice cream to cope with a bad breakup or an excessive amount of chocolate chip cookies to deal with the stress and anxiety of a worldwide pandemic. 

However, some signs may suggest that emotional eating is causing problems in your life, such as:

  • Eating more when you are worried, anxious, or stressed
  • Eating when you're not hungry or feeling full
  • Eating because you are bored or tired 
  • Feeling out of control around food
  • Using food as a reward

It's important to remember that while negative emotions can cause emotional eating, so can positive ones. 

3 strategies for overcoming emotional eating

If your first instinct is to raid the pantry whenever you're stressed, upset, mad, lonely, exhausted, or bored, you risk getting stuck in an unhealthy cycle of never addressing real feelings or problems.

The good news is there are ways to make a positive change and create a healthy, balanced relationship with food. 

Understanding Emotional Eating Triggers

Addressing emotional eating starts with identifying patterns and causes of what provokes the behavior. Do you find yourself running to the drive-thru when you are stressed out? Is it a reward to treat yourself to a dozen donuts when something good happens? Everyone is different, so identifying your personal triggers is critical. 

Once you recognize your emotional eating triggers, you can create healthier ways to combat them. Enlisting the help of a professional, like a therapist or health coach, can set you up for success moving forward. 

Developing Coping Mechanisms

One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional eating triggers is to develop coping mechanisms. These are viable alternatives that positively impact emotions. 

Coping mechanisms may include things like:

  • Physical activity and exercise- walking, yoga, pilates, etc 
  • Journaling
  • Meditation and deep breathing
  • Practicing mindfulness 
  • Exploring hobbies and interests 
  • Setting goals and tracking progress 

Building Self-Control

A critical step in developing a healthier relationship with food is developing self-control. In addition to using one or several of the above coping mechanisms, you can build self-control by setting boundaries and limits around food. 

Equally as important as self-control, practicing self-compassion and kindness are also beneficial tools. This includes giving yourself grace if you have a slip up and using positive affirmations to help build self-esteem. 


Emotional eating is a common struggle, but it is possible to overcome it. By understanding your triggers, developing coping mechanisms, and building self-control, you can break the cycle of emotional eating and achieve a healthy relationship with food. Remember to be kind to yourself and seek additional resources for support if needed.

Our science-based nutrition program at Profile Plan combines a personalized approach with compassionate, one-on-one coaching and sensible meal options to help our members lose weight and live their healthiest lives. We explore different types of educational methods and lessons such as emotional eating in our weekly coaching sessions to help you build long-lasting, healthy habits..

 Take our health quiz today to find a plan that aligns with your health goals! 


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