Rethinking Emotional Eating


Originally this post was going to be about performance, but it organically turned into a post about emotional eating. I want to say, I am not a registered dietitian. I am a regular person who’s spent a lot of (healthy and unhealthy) time thinking about, learning about, and exploring the world of food. I’m also a certified health coach and a survivor of anorexia nervosa (the eating disorder was pre-education, btw). Feel free to ask questions in the comments or shoot me a message.

Eating is Emotional

Think about it. Almost every holiday, celebration, and many rewards come with requisite eats and treats. Additionally, there’s a whole list of “comfort food” waiting to take our minds off of whatever ails us (stress, loneliness, missing old times).

We often gather around the table, the grill, or the movie popcorn with friends and family. Food is important to our emotional well-being. 


Sometimes emotional eating can lead to overeating, or getting stuck in a food rut. Maybe you miss family dinners but now everyone’s grown up and moved away, or weekends are just too hectic with kids’ schedules. Maybe those family dinners often had a regular side dish or dessert, so when that item is available you go a little overboard. Or, maybe you can only get the family to sit down together if you order a giant bucket of KFC. Whatever it is sometimes is ok, all the time isn’t doing you any favors.

What Can You Do About It?

First, understand this is normal. We all have our “things”. Second, give yourself permission to think about why the food is so important, or irresistible. Is that stale pretzel from the baseball stadium *really* tasty or do you get it because that’s what you always got when you went to stadium as a kid? No judgements, just a small bit of reflection.

Here’s an easy one for me. Sheet-cake? What’s even in that? No idea, but I’ve accepted more pieces than I’d like to admit at company parties because it’s what you do. Believe me, your cake having (or not) doesn’t determine anyone’s ability to have a good time. Besides, if you’ve ever worked in an office, you know that cake isn’t going to waste.

So reflect some. Keep a journal, track moods after eating foods on apps, or just sit with it for a bit. I’ve tried a few different methods, usually depending on my mood. There’s no “right way”.

I do suggest you try it though. Even just once. Pick a food, think about the why, and you might be surprised.

**Please, if you or someone you know has an issue with disordered eating contact NIMH.



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