Weight Loss Tips

5 Steps to Stop Emotional Eating and Finally Lose Weight

Food is comforting.

Really, who hasn’t reached for their favorite comfort food after a long, hard day. And who hasn’t rewarded themselves with a “treat” after a big “win”? It’s not unusual, but when you start to rely on food as your main form of comfort or reward there’s a problem.

Emotional eating, or comfort eating, can be triggered by a number of emotions, whether they’re good or bad.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an emotional eater, you could be wrong. As a personal trainer and nutritionist who specializes in weight loss, I’m going to give you my best tips on how to stop emotional eating and lose weight!

kami with idealshake in gym

Identifying Emotional Eating

Often times emotional eating means overeating. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never turned to celery sticks when I’m feeling blue. Instead, it’s always the high-calorie, carb-heavy foods. Which definitely isn’t good for your waistline or weight loss goals.

The problem is that you might not even realize that you’re an emotional eater. Emotional eating is when you turn food into a form of comfort or escape. When food holds a special purpose other than giving your body fuel, that’s emotional eating.

There are a few telltale signs that your mind has hijacked your stomach.

1. You Eat When You’re Not Physically Hungry

Hunger isn’t an emotion. Or at least it shouldn’t be. When you do eat, it should be because you have a physical need.

Think about when the last time you ate was. Was it three hours ago or one hour ago? If it was only an hour ago then you’re probably not actually hungry. That or you need to eat more filling snacks and meals.

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If you’re not sure whether you’re actually hungry do the “apple test”. Ask yourself if you’re hungry enough to eat an apple. If not, then you’re not really hungry. True hunger isn’t nearly as picky as emotional cravings.

2. It’s Hard to Satisfy Your “Craving”

Again, true hunger is easily satisfied by healthy foods. When you’re actually hungry broccoli, chicken, and brown rice sounds like the most delicious dinner EVER! Emotional hunger can be hard to satisfy. It can be difficult to scratch that itch and fulfill your cravings.

When you’re eating emotionally nothing hits the spot so you end up eating and eating. Have you ever kept snacking after you felt full only because you couldn’t find the right food. You’ve probably even found yourself chowing down on foods that you don’t even like on your quest to feel satisfied. I know, I’ve been there!

3. You Mindlessly Munch

Mindless eating can be a little scary. You sit down to watch your favorite show. You’re cuddled up with a comfy blanket and your favorite snack and you’re ready to unwind. Eating is so relaxing. But you’re so lost in the act of chewing and swallowing that you barely even taste the food. Before you know it you’ve polished off the whole thing.

Emotional eating has an element of mindlessness. You’re trying to disconnect from your negative emotions or fill a void with food.

4. You Eat During Emotional Times… Or Just to Kill Time

If you find yourself eating when you’re feeling sad, stressed, or mad, then you probably already realize that you’re an emotional eater. But emotional eating can be a response to positive emotions or just feeling bored. Using food and eating to comfort, celebrate, or keep yourself occupied is a sure way to create an unhealthy relationship with food.

And when it comes to eating in response to a bad mood, your food choices are only going to make things worse. According to researchers at Penn State, women who were concerned about their eating habits only felt worse after “bouts of disordered eating.”

“There was little in the way of mood changes right before the unhealthy eating behaviors,” said Heron. “However, negative mood was significantly higher after these behaviors.”

Overcoming Emotional Eating


The first thing to understand when trying to overcome emotional eating is that it is possible! You can take control of your emotions and your actions. But it takes real effort and consistency. Once you master that, you can control your eating, cut calories and lose weight!

Don’t forget that this is a process. Creating new, healthy habits doesn’t just happen in a day. So be patient with yourself! If you do slip up, don’t beat yourself up. Just try again next time. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to have healthy and filling foods to turn to. If a food is healthy, filling, AND delicious, even better! It will help to satisfy those cravings without causing you to go overboard, and it will also help you to feel physically full.

IdealShake meal replacement shake is great because it checks all three of those boxes! It tastes like a dessert (have you seen all the delicious flavors?!) but it’s low-calorie and it has a hunger-blocker to help you curb your cravings. You’ll feel like you’re cheating but you’re not!

How to Stop Emotional Eating and Lose Weight

1. Be Aware of Triggers
When you get the urge to eat or have sudden cravings, take a step back and ask yourself why. Take account of your feelings. Are you stressed after a long day? Are you feeling lonely or sad? Write down how you’re feeling.

Knowing which feelings trigger your emotional eating will help you to take different actions. When you know feeling lonely sets you up for overeating, then you can replace that emotional eating with a more positive reaction. If you know you’re feeling sad you can take action and instead of turning to food you can pick a different, positive reaction that will help you feel comforted without all the extra calories (more on this below).

2. Eat Mindfully
Eating mindfully means really taking the time to concentrate on your food or your meal. Instead of plowing through a plate of food without even tasting it, slow down. When you eat more slowly you’ll actually taste your food and feel more satisfied. Doing this will actually help you eat fewer calories! Here a few other techniques to help you eat mindfully.

  • Put down your fork in between bites.
  • Sit down to eat.
  • Try to identify all the ingredients in your dish.
  • Count the amount of times you have to chew each bite.
  • Turn off the TV and put away devices.
  • Take smaller bites.

3. Take a Break Before Eating
If you feel hungry or the need to eat, take a five-minute break before you eat. This is a great time to ask yourself if you’re actually hungry and analyze your emotions. You’re not denying yourself food, you’re just taking a short break.

Set a timer, drink a big glass of water and do something else for the next five minutes. Who knows, after you take your break you might not be hungry anymore.

4. Accept Your Emotions
Another thing that is important to do is to accept your emotions. The good and the bad. Negative emotions are often the ones that are most likely to trigger emotional eating. But if you can accept that it’s ok to be mad, sad, stressed, or whatever the emotion may be, then you don’t have to worry about covering up those emotions with food.

5. Find New Forms of Comfort and Reward

kami doing yoga
One of the most important steps in overcoming emotional eating is finding a replacement for food. It’s ok to comfort yourself or reward yourself but it’s time to find a better alternative than food.

Eating might feel good while you’re doing it, but just like we learned from that Penn State study, it only makes you feel worse afterward. I know I’ve experienced that and I’m sure you have too. Below is a list of non-food related ways to comfort and reward yourself!

Non-Food Comforts and Rewards

  • Exercise
  • Get a massage
  • Take a relaxing bath
  • Give yourself a massage
  • Do some aromatherapy
  • Soak in a hot tub
  • Go to a fun workout class
  • New exercise clothes or equipment
  • Healthy recipe book
  • Relax with a hot pack
  • Listen to music you love
  • Go dancing
  • Phone a friend
  • Write in a journal
  • Read a good book
  • Play with your pet
  • Play with your kids
  • Cuddle with a loved one
  • Watch funny videos

The Wrap Up

Emotional eating is a major struggle that so many people face. You’re definitely not alone in this. Be patient with yourself and be consistent with creating new habits. When you’re able to control your eating habits and hunger you can cut calories and lose weight! And because you’re doing it the right way, you’ll keep it off!

Get the tool you need to help you achieve success. IdealShake meal replacement shake is a healthy, meal that tastes like dessert but is low in calories. Plus with a powerful hunger-blocker, you can curb cravings for up to three hours!

By replacing two meals a day with IdealShake you can maximize your weight loss for the best results possible. Treating yourself every day with a tasty shake is a great tool to help you cut down on those cravings and the need to eat emotionally.


Kami Price

Kami Price

Head Trainer & Nutritionist

Kami Price is the Head Trainer for IdealShape. She is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, a Pn.1 Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Yoga Instructor. Kami has been in the fitness world for over 10 years and prior to joining IdealShape owned one of the biggest private gyms in Utah.

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