top of page

SEARCH

Stop Eating Your Feelings & Start Loving Your Body More (Includes Checklist Download)

When things in Life go pear-shaped, how do you usually handle it? I think its fair to say we've all drowned our sorrows in a tub of ice cream, greasy burger or pizza at least once to twice. But if this is your go to response to Life's hard knocks, its time to stop eating your feelings and start loving your body more.


Stop Eating Your Feelings & Start Loving Your Body More
Stop Eating Your Feelings & Start Loving Your Body More

Sometimes the stress from financial worries, health issues or relationships struggles can get the better of us. And for some, eating instead of dealing with those hard feelings becomes the coping mechanism.


Emotional eating is an issue that affects both sexes, although women seem to eat their feelings more than often than men. Eating food when you are not actually truly hungry is called "emotional eating", and is an avoidance tactic that people use to suppress or soothe negative emotions rather than face them.


Emotional eating commonly happens when you feel anger, boredom, fear, stress, loneliness, or sadness, and fills an emotional void. The stress of daily life can get too much and food offers a welcome escape. Unfortunely, this is a very dangerous habit.

Why Food?

When you eat, your brain releases pleasurable chemicals, in much the same way a drug or alcohol may give a user a high. When you start to eat, the stomach is triggered and signals the release of several hormonal responses. One of these pleasurable, pain numbing neurological responses is the release of dopamine, a powerful pleasure-inducing hormone. Scientists call this pleasurable sensation "ingestion analgesia". This literally means pain relief through consuming food.


Using food to numb the emotional pain, stress or escape hard feelings can be a way to create a false sense of wholeness or “fullness”. Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn’t fix the problem. If anything, it usually makes things worse. After eating your feelings, not only do the original emotional problems remain, but you may experience guilt and regret for overeating.


Now, you've just created a secondary problem.


Do you ever find yourself doing this? For many it can be so automatic you may not realise you are in fact eating your feelings until its too late.


Are You An Emotional Eater?

  • Do you eat when you’re not even really hungry?

  • Do you eat just because the food or snack is there?

  • Do you eat to feel better and calm your nerves?

  • Do you reach for comfort foods when you feel emotional pain or stress?

  • Do you reward yourself with food even if you know you don't need it?

  • Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself or in a food coma?

  • Do you feel like food is a friend is always there that doesn't judge you?

  • Do you feel powerless against cravings or out of control around food?

Using food as the occasional pick-me-up, reward, or to celebrate an event is quite acceptable. But when eating is your go to emotional coping mechanism, you do yourself a disservice. The main problem (anger, stress, loneliness, sadness etc) goes unresolved and never gets addressed. Long term. this creates some pretty poor eating habits that not only hurt your body but your mental wellness as well.


Find Other Ways To Feed Your Feelings


In order to stop eating your feelings, you need to adopt new ways of self soothing and learn to how to stop yourself. This is something I teach regularly in my clinic; trust me when I say it can be done. The best way is to focus on positive, non-food ways to manage your emotions instead of reaching for Ben & Jerry's cookie dough or those chocolatey TimTams.


I know this might seem easier said than done. And a restrictive diet isn't the answer. Diets usually call for some sort of restriction which only works if you have very good willpower and control over your eating habits. It doesn’t work when your emotions throw a spanner the mix, demanding an escape with food. You need to find non-food activities that you can do instead of turning to food for emotional an escape or fulfilment.


Emotional eating isn't a food problem, it is an emotional issue, and a sign something else needs to change. Don't stress if you identify with this poor habit or view this as yet another problem to overcome. Instead look at it as an opportunity to pivot and make some really exciting positive changes.


Now is the perfect time to move away from food as your primary source of comfort and free yourself from this pattern. You can totally do this. Begin by start thinking of alternatives to your favourite comfort foods such as going for a walk, having a warm cup of herbal tea, or calling a loved one for support. You can even reach out to me for a free 15-minute chat!


What activities can you think of right now that you really enjoy and that you think will help you feel good about yourself and boost a bad mood? Write them down as they come to mind. Set a reminder in your phone with your little list and make it pop up when you know you do most of your emotional eating. This is usually mid afternoon or in the evening for most people.


Start Loving Your Body More


A large part of turning things around when it comes to eating your feelings is self-care. When I first started exploring the concept and self-love, I really didn’t know what it meant. I knew how to love someone else, but how the heck do I love myself? If I was honest, I was at war with my body. There was very little love until one day someone gave me a nudge...


My personal self-love journey eventually began with a book at the age of 14. The title was, “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise L Hay. A mentor of mine lent it to me and said, "Here, Em, read this..." Little did I know my life would change forever. Once I started reading, I was soon dripping off every word. So much of it made sense to me and is a large part of what I teach today.


Self-care and love for your body is about caring for yourself as you would a loved one or child. If you toddler or primary schooler was having a tantrum, you would not hand them an ice cream or chocolate bar every time and say, "Here eat this and calm down." Imagine that for a moment.


What do you think is going to happen? That child is going to very quickly associate food with comfort, a quick fix, and perhaps start to gain unnecessary weight as a result. Handing an emotional child food will not help them identify or articulate their feelings. It will not help them find constructive ways to deal with disappointments, sadness, stress or fear which are a normal part of the ebbs and flow of real Life. Food will not help a child express their feelings in positive ways, grow emotionally or become an emotionally intelligent young man or woman.


So why do you do this to yourself?


When you begin to love your body and give it the respect it deserves, it becomes easier to pivot away from the knee-jerk urge for ice cream when you just got fired or dumped. It becomes easier to recognise your feelings, hold space for them and respect your body enough not to damage it with food when what you really need is a little self-directed kindness and support.


Here's several simple ways you can start practicing this that are totally non-food related:

  • drink a glass of ice cold water; this can be a great starting point

  • go outside and breathe; close your eyes and just listen to the sounds around you

  • journal your feelings without judgement, just write whatever comes out

  • pinch directly in front of where your earlobe begins; its an acupressure point

  • do 1-2 minutes of burst exercises like jumping jacks, skipping, running on the spot

  • bury your head in a pillow and scream it out; let all your pain out through sound

  • call a trusted friend or message me for support; talk yourself out of a food fix

These ideas might seem super simple, and they are, but they do work if you are willing to give them a go. In most cases, all you need is an alternative way to manage your big feelings and a prompt to pivot away from always relying on food as the solution to emotional stress.


I often have clients write out a list like this that has more meaning to them, and pin it to their fridge and cupboard. Print out a stop sign if you like; that can be equally as effective. Whatever it takes to help you break the automatic cycle of using food for comfort.


Healthy + happiness,

Emma Lisa xx



Enjoyed this post?

If you enjoyed this blog post, I have a favour to ask. Please take moment to subscribe, and to write a review. Doing this helps me know you found value here in the content I work hard to share, and I would be truly grateful. Thank you so much!


Let's connect in the Eat Nourish Glow Facebook group!

Or come see what goodies I'm sharing on Instagram!

128 views22 comments

22 Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
Guest
Sep 13, 2021

I’ve just downloaded your e-book and I’m loving it, just had to share it’s made a big difference for me this week!! Do you do any classes on this subject? Thanks Belle

Like
Unknown member
Sep 13, 2021
Replying to

Hey Belle, thank yu so much for sharing your experience with it, I'm so glad!! I do have some classes and programs coming up in late September and October.

Health + happiness,

Emma

Like

Guest
Sep 08, 2021

These are some really good tips thank you, a gre read 👏

Like
Unknown member
Sep 13, 2021
Replying to

Thank you for sharing,

Health + happiness,

Emma

Like

Guest
Sep 02, 2021

Loved this download thank you so much!!!

Like
Unknown member
Sep 13, 2021
Replying to

Thank you for sharing your feedback.

Health + happiness,

Emma

Like

Guest
Aug 29, 2021

I'm so bad with my snacking. I crave salty all the time, what does that mean? And I guess a better question is how do I stop it? I just dont have the will power if I'm honest. Help!

Like
Emma Lisa
Emma Lisa
Aug 29, 2021
Replying to

Craving salt can mean many things from dehydration, lack of electrolytes, vitamin deficiency, or adrenal issues… I would highly recommend making sure you are actually hydrated, eating a well balanced variety of food and maybe try on some electrolytes for a few days. If you do not notice any difference, you might want to check with your GP.

Like

Guest
Aug 27, 2021