Are You an Emotional Eater?

Do you eat when you’re sad, lonely, anxious or upset?

Do you use food as a way to cope with your emotions, especially strong ones?

Do you eat when you’re not hungry?

Do you eat until you are uncomfortable and stuffed?

Are you gaining weight and you don’t know why?

If you answered yes to these questions you’re most likely an emotional eater, which does put you at risk of weight gain, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes.  But, the first step towards any solution is recognizing the problem, so congratulate yourself and DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP OVER IT. That will just add to your stress.

You can gain control over these urges if you dig a little into the messages you’re sending yourself that trigger the emotional eating.

Often food is used as a pacifier for unpleasant or negative thoughts and feelings. I know that when I am stressed, distressed or even bored, my first instinct often is to go to the kitchen and reach for my favorite “comfort food.”  Overeating even healthy “comfort food” can pack on extra calories.

Here are some tactics that may short-circuit the emotional eating process:

  • Engage in self-soothing behaviors. Literally give yourself a hug and have compassion towards yourself.
  • Angry woman eating doughnut over white background

    Pay attention to the messages that trigger the emotional eating. Are you feeling lonely, bored or sad?  Did something happen that made you feel angry or anxious?  Try writing down your thoughts and feelings when you feel most vulnerable to overeating. Often a pattern emerges.

  • Do some self-talk. Replace the thoughts “I need this particular food or drink” to make me feel better with “I know I am feeling __________ right now but I am going to take a few deep breaths or go for a walk instead and that will make me feel better without the weight gain.”
  • Talk to a friend if you’re feeling lonely or upset about something. I am single and often call friends and family members at night to chat because I know that’s when I feel the most alone and am most likely to over-indulge.  Good friends are also willing to listen to your struggles and often offer some encouragement when you’re upset or down.
  • Ask yourself whether you are physically hungry or not. If the answer is yes, then eat a serving of healthy food and drink water. Please refer to the weekly meal plan in the Quick Start Guide to a Low-Carb Diet for ideas about healthy meals and snacks. If the answer is no then put the food back and physically remove yourself from the kitchen.  If you can’t do that try eating just a few bites, portion control is critical.
  • Distract yourself mentally from thinking about food. I keep my NPR station on most of the day so just listening to the news or my favorite program for a few minutes takes my mind off the urge to overeat.meditation
  • Meditate on a scene that brings you pleasure like a beach or a mountain top. Use your imagination to visualize something that is both inspiring and soothing.
  • Develop a routine for cooking and eating that involves 3 healthy meals a day and a few healthy snacks. Prepare food that is both healthy and delicious. Food is meant to be enjoyed so don’t deprive yourself unnecessarily. Check out my recipes.
  • Schedule a few treats during your week. When you’re eating healthy most of the time, you can indulge in a few treats, which gives you something to look forward to.  I enjoy a good glass of wine or a ginger molasses cookie once a week and savor the taste.

Was this helpful?  Drop me a line at and let me know.


2/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
Christine Lehmann
I'm Christine Lehmann, the Reverse Diabetes Coach™ and certified nutritional therapist. I'm dedicated to helping women prevent or reverse diabetes naturally. While doctors usually prescribe medications to control your blood sugar, I use a holistic, natural approach that is highly effective for lowering blood sugar, lo...
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