Emotional Eating

Stress Eating

Do you instinctively want to open the refrigerator when you are bored or under stress?  Do you reach for food when you feel tired, lonely, sad  or want to reward yourself (e.g., “I had a bad day)? 

Many people do it. And when that happens, we turn to comforting but unhealthy foods (like 'junk' food) that are high in sugar, salt and fat to meet our emotional needs rather than our stomach's.

Relying on food to hide, bury or ‘fix’ emotions is called Emotional or Stress Eating. Caused by everything from work stress, financial concerns and relationship conflicts to hormonal changes, mixed hunger cues and worries about public health crises  or global pandemics like Covid-19.  

It's common to seek comfort through food , but Emotional Eating can become a vicious cycle that leads to an unhealthy lifestyle. Negative emotions can lead to a feeling of emptiness, and food may temporarily fill that void. Unfortunately, it can also make you feel worse because the emotions that caused you to overeat in the first place are still there.

It's okay to treat yourself to your favorite foods in moderation. However, uncontrolled Emotional Eating can cause intense cravings for fattening foods such as high-calorie sweets, sugary drinks, ice cream, cake, pasta, chips and pizza. Over time, the risk of  inflammation and chronic disease increases, which can lead to serious physical and mental health problems, including, but not limited to:

  • Weight gain
  • Binge eating, food addictions & other disorders (e.g., anorexia, bulimia)
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Anxiety or depression from suppressing negative emotions

How Stress Management Coaching Can Help

 If you struggle with emotional eating, you are not alone! Coaching can help you find more satisfying ways to calm your emotions and regain control of your stress and desires. Personal coaching provides step-by-step guidance and skills to restore a healthy relationship with food by helping you to:

Identify your emotional triggers. Strong emotions such as anger, frustration and sadness often trigger Emotional Eating. Fatigue, boredom and social pressure are also common triggers. For example, you're more likely to overeat when you're tired, have nothing to do, or are spending time with friends and family. Recognizing your stressors is the first step to combat stress and overcome Emotional Eating. Take our free stress quizzes to identify your emotional triggers. 

Recognize physical and mental hunger. Unlike physical hunger, mental hunger can make you crave certain foods. For example, if you're about to eat a pint of ice cream after eating a big meal, ask yourself if you’re still hungry or if your mood is triggering your desire to eat ice cream. While satisfying your physical hunger and replenishing your body with the healthy nutrients it needs is not associated with negative emotions, overeating can cause you to feel regret, shame and guilt. 

Consciously eat more food. Recognizing when you’re prone to overeat or drink can help you eat more consciously. Keeping a food diary is a great way to gain insight into your current habits and lifestyle. Monitoring your current health as well as your food, water, caffeine and alcohol intake can help you make better decisions, curb unnecessary snacking, improve nutrition and avoid weight gain. 

Reduce the effects of physical stressIt's important to address the physical reasons why stress can lead to overeating. When you’re under chronic stress, your body releases cortisol and hunger hormones in large quantities, increasing your appetite and cravings for sweet and  fatty foods. By reducing symptoms of physical stress, you can prevent them from  will help you prevent it from developing into eating disorders that are difficult to control. 

Learn new coping techniques. Deep breathing, meditation, muscle relaxation and regular exercise are natural remedies to lower stress. Reducing tension, slowing your breath, calming your mind and engaging in gentle physical activity like yoga or tai chi can provide a positive boost and counteract the emotional triggers of stress and eating.  

Schedule a free, 30-minute, no obligation Discovery Call to explore how coaching can help accelerate positive changes in your life.  We work with clients in New York and across all 50 U.S. states and can customize a Stress Management Program that fits your specific needs.

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Wendy Padob, CEO and Executive Health and Wellness Coach at WP Creative Wellness provides virtual and in-person coaching services to clients in New York, across all U.S. States and globally.


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