How to Overcome Emotional Overeating

Eating is something that we do every day, so we don’t always realize the emotional causes and effects of eating. We can unknowingly overeat during emotional periods, which can be detrimental to maintaining a healthy weight. Often times, when people choose food as a stress relief or a reward, they tend to choose less healthy options. The most important part about changing these behaviors is to realize that you may experience them, and to not feel bad about it. It’s never too late to change these and, like I always say, anything is possible!

I recently conducted a survey among my viewers to learn more about everyone’s differing feelings toward eating. Through my survey, I discovered that the majority of participants admitted to eating often when they feel stressed or upset. All but one participant said they use food to reward themselves. Using food as a reward is not always a bad thing, but if it’s often and is usually unhealthy food, it could turn into an issue. Two-thirds of participants said they sometimes eat when they’re already full, and one third said they do this often. Most people admitted to eating certain foods only when nobody else is around. The most popular types of food that people said they eat when they feel stressed or upset are sugary treats, fried and/or greasy foods, salty snacks, and bread products, in that order. Only two participants said they choose fruits and vegetables to eat when they’re feeling stressed. 

It was virtually a tie between “yes” and “not sure” when asked if the participants consider themselves emotionally attached to food. It’s not always easy to determine and the answer is not always black and white. However, it’s important to recognize the signs if you feel like you may depend on food to help you through emotional situations.

If you feel that you may experience emotional overeating, do not worry. Here are some tips to help you to work through this habit and to separate food from emotions.


  1. Remember that food will not solve any problems or make you feel happier in the long run.

    Although food can be delicious, it is not guaranteed to make you feel happier in a long-term way. There are many healthy, nutritious foods (such as various fruits and vegetables) that can keep you in a happier mood, but the physical act of eating does not solve problems. Plus, evidence suggests that most people gravitate toward junk foods when they feel stressed or upset. There are many ways to help you to calm down, feel happier, and work through your issues, but always remember that food is not a psychological cure-all. 

  2. Distinguish the differences between hunger and cravings. 

    This is such an important skill to master in order to prevent overeating. Our brains often trick us into thinking that we’re hungry. This happens when we’re dehydrated, bored, or stressed, to name a few instances. We must recognize when we’re actually hungry and wait for that moment to eat. If your stomach is growling, you know that you’re hungry. If your stomach feels content but you’re craving food, hold off on that snack.

  3. Find a form of emotional relief that does not involve eating or drinking. 

    Instead of reaching for a snack when you’re feeling emotionally drained, choose a healthier form of stress relief. Put on some relaxing music, do some yoga, go for a walk, meditate, and practicing deep breathing are all healthy alternatives to emotional eating. My favorite form of stress relief is heading to the gym and getting a powerful workout in. Find what works best for you and stick with it whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed.

  4. Practice mindfulness and self-control. 

    If you feel compelled to eat something, make sure you choose a healthy snack instead of junk food. Go for raw vegetables, such as celery or carrots with hummus, since the crunchiness might assist in easing tension. These will also fill you up faster, unlike junk food. Most importantly, know when to stop. Eat mindfully and slowly, pausing between each bite to allow your body to process your satiety. 

  5. Keep junk food out of reach. 

    This relates to the previous point. If you have no junk food available in your house, it will be much more difficult to binge on unhealthy foods. Fill your kitchen with healthy foods so that those are all you have to choose from. If it’s helpful, delete all food delivery apps to distance yourself further from unhealthy temptations.

  6. Feel confident and strong in your ability to overcome emotional overeating. 

    Always remember that you can do this. Never doubt yourself. You are capable of anything and everything. Food does not control you. You control you. If you choose to work on your emotional eating behaviors, you can and will conquer them. You are an amazing person and anything is possible! If you ever want to talk about this topic, please send me a message through my Contact page. You can do this!