Emotional Eating

A few weeks ago, I dreamt that I had 2 weeks to do absolutely nothing, and I was sobbing (in my dream), as I hate to be bored. {I’d clearly forgotten that I was a mom}.

If I go back in my thinking to Varsity holidays, I so clearly remember days when I was home for hours on end, and had nothing to do. Whilst it’s rare now, in my life as mum of 2 little ones, to be alone, it is not rare to be bored. I actually coach so many mums of young kids who admit nibbling on almost anything they can find in the afternoons, mainly due to boredom. It’s not that we’re lonely or alone {gracious NO, kids let you know they’re there}, but the lack of adult stimulation can get to one, and definitely cause the surfacing of uncomfortable emotions.


Why do so many of us turn to food when bored, tired, lonely, or frustrated???

My thinking is… because we can. It’s the one thing that’s been there all along, for us to manipulate. We’re 100% in control of it, and we love that. Control, I mean. When experiencing negative emotions, we often feel out of control and crave the taste of it again. TADA. Food becomes our thing. And because we were never hungry, we tend to choose unhealthy options; things we feel will lift our mood, rather than nourish our bodies. The thing with habits is that we often establish them with little intention and then wake up one day and BAM we’re an emotional eater. BUT habits can be broken and according to neuroscience the ONLY way to do this is..

  1. Identify the trigger (i.e: Boredom)
  2. Replace the habit with a new habit
  3. Ensure that the new habit feels good (Our brains only establish habits when they feel good)


Here are my 4 tips for overcoming emotional eating:

  1. Identify when you tend to turn to food. Time of day AND more importantly the emotional state that you’re in (i.e: The trigger)
  2. Write a list of 20 (YES 20) things that you could do, instead of open the biscuit jar, when these moments surface. PS: If are don’t have an alternate plan in place for dealing with negative emotions then the cycle we’re in is likely to continue…forever
  3. Give yourself 3 weeks to implement the above alternatives each time you realise the surfacing of the negative emotion/s that usually cause you to eat unnecessarily. Try out a number of different options, until such time as one, two or three alternatives seem to work. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.

It will take 21 days/3 weeks for your brain to form a new pathway between a negative emotion surfacing and what you habitually choose to do, in that moment.

Here’s to overcoming emotional eating and happily chopping on something delicious without feeling guilty or led there due to negativity 🙂


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