How to Stop the Chaos of Emotional Eating and Thrive

Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence. — Buddha

Feeling out of control, at least a little bit, when starting a new healthy habit is to be expected. You’re learning and implementing new routines and relating to yourself in different ways.

Like anything new, there’s an adjustment phase where you assess what’s working and what needs to be modified.

The unique challenge of emotional eating is the nearly immediate calm that emotional eating gives.

Usually, emotional eating consists of food that is high in simple carbohydrates or a high sugar/fat combination. These foods quickly release brain chemicals that calm and help you feel better — in the short term.

(especially tune in to minute 1:00–4:00)

From a purely neurophysiological standpoint, it seems impossible to intervene and stop emotional eating. And yet, people do change.

You can learn to change your internal landscape, the triggers which lead to emotional eating and create new patterns that support and nurture you in ways that help you become a Conscious Eater.

As Dr. Nora states in the video above, the odds are stacked in the favor of maintaining the status quo. We are designed to keep wanting what we want. Human systems are designed to avoid change even when change would improve our lives.

Emotional eating is a complex system that is driven by the interplay of our biology and psychology. These systems work in concert with each other.

Stress happens, discomfort results and your brain signals to you to eat to feel calmer.

To stop emotional eating, you need a solution that comprehensively addresses what you need in relationship with yourself to successfully stop emotional eating.

You must override your biology — this is clear.

You need to help your body get past the desire to emotionally eat.

People have many ways they do this, some are restrictive, some are following one eating or meal plan after another (chronic dieters), some involve lots of counting (calories, carbs, protein, etc.).

The problem is that these methods don’t take into account changing your mindset about your relationship with food or your body. These methods focus on only one part of the equation — control the external — the food.

A more comprehensive way to take control is to change your relationship with yourself, Conscious Eating helps you do this. When we think about health we often think about mental health and physical health as being separate.

If you take the view of health as being just health, which doesn’t separate mental and physical health. The effects are both positive and negative.

Your internal system is constantly interacting and in fact, it’s impossible to stop the interaction, we are mind and body. When you adopt a relational mindset, you have a range of options to help yourself stop emotional eating and change the environment in which it thrives.

3 important questions that can help you transform emotional eating.

1. What’s the worst thing that can happen from feeling out of control?

Your answers might be fear based:

I’ll gain weight.

I won’t get what I want, so I might as well eat something I like.

I’ll feel guilt and shame about eating and/or my body.

Emotional eating pushes you to grow in your awareness of the variety of your emotional experiences. It’s like the message of emotional eating is a challenge for you to find out more about yourself. To increase your self-knowledge in the present moment. The feelings are just below the surface, waiting to be discovered and at the same time, you’re distracted with the food right now, calling you to be present.

(especially tune in to minute 0:30–3:30)

It’s a tricky thing this emotional eating.

It’s not really about willpower, it’s about the will to power through your limiting beliefs and to create a new relationship with yourself.

2. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you don’t emotionally eat and allow yourself to experience the feelings?

What if you can change the emotion?

(this one is short-watch the whole clip it’s a little less than 2 minutes)

You can make this happen. It’s not to “turn your frown upside down,” but rather to use the qualities of the emotion to get to know other aspects of what you’re feeling.

This is a change which enriches your experiences of life. No longer is it one insurmountable feeling, rather it’s a more manageable and often more freeing in that you can get unstuck and work with the feeling.

With a range of feelings, you can identify new options for self-care. New ideas will come and you will have new ways of coping you hadn’t imagined when the emotional eating episode first began.

3. What do you need to create an environment of curiosity about yourself and your process of becoming a Conscious Eater?

(especially tune in to minute 2:10–3:24)

You can think of this like being a detective sleuthing your way around your feelings with the intention of being present and clear. You can be secure in the knowledge that your efforts will increase your ability to get what you need in life.

This takes a plan and practice revising the plan. It’s a system that keeps moving you forward with each iteration.

Many people find that if they don’t have a plan, an alternative, they will inevitably emotionally eat. A plan is a commitment that you are intent on changing your environment. There are many ways to do this from actually physically going into a different room, having a mantra at the ready, practicing anxiety calming techniques, etc.

Right now, as soon as you finish reading this article, make your plan. It’s best to create the plan when you’re not hungry. My suggestion is that you make your plan as simple as possible to support yourself so you’re set up for success. You most likely need to make changes to it as you go and learn more about your needs in the process. Take each opportunity to grow in your relationship with yourself, your healing emotional eating and becoming a Conscious Eater for life.

Be sure to get your copy of the Conscious Eater Quick Start as each step will help you develop your plan.

Want more good stuff like this?

If this article spoke to you, please head on over at my blog, and I’ll send you the Conscious Eating Quick Start and change your relationship with food forever!

Tracie Strucker, PhD

Written by

psychotherapist (lcmft)| stress, emotional & binge eating specialist | courses & ebooks @

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