What is Emotional Eating? What You Need to Know

what is emotional eating

I can’t remember the time I became aware that I was emotionally eating. If you asked me, “What is emotional eating?” before then, I wouldn’t know how to answer that question.

I saw eating as a mathematical game; the more calories I consume, the heavier I got. It was just another problem to resolve.

And so I began to eat less than I normally did before I decided it was time for me to lose weight. I controlled my appetite, watched what I ate, and exercised diligently. I set a goal and I did my very best to hit it!

My Experience With Emotional Eating

The problem was that the process of losing weight was difficult, painful, and filled with deprivation (or at least the process I went through). It was a constant mental game of not giving up. I told myself that once I hit my weight goal, it was going to be easier because I would be perfect and therefore happy.

One of things I did was have a weekly “cheat day” and it was something that I always looked forward to. It was usually on a Friday or a Saturday. I had a free pass to eat anything I wanted — sweets, mayonnaise on my sandwich (I once thought fat was bad), butter with my eggs, bacon for breakfast, and a whole bag of barbecue-flavored potato chips. I binged like there was no tomorrow!

It was like I was making up for something. Perhaps it was my way of making amends after allowing myself to feel deprived. Gosh, it felt great!

Now, that was emotional eating, and I had been doing it a lot before I even knew the answer to the question, “What is emotional eating?”

What is Emotional Eating: The Straight-Up Answer

When you eat in response to feelings or you use food to relieve negative emotions, you are emotionally eating. It’s eating for reasons other than providing your body with the nourishment it needs.

Emotional eating is prevalent in women. It is normal because we are emotional beings with an emotional relationship with food. It started from the day we were born. We learned that, whenever we wanted to get fed, all we had to do was cry. It continued during our childhood years when our mothers cooked for us. We usually celebrated our birthdays with a cake. When we got good grades, we got ice cream as a reward.

We eat to protect ourselves against negative feelings and emotions. In that regard, eating is a form of self-preservation. What could be more natural than that?

I thought there was something wrong with me and that my body was defective because it craved food all too often. I thought that I was weak and that nobody else ever did this.

Now, I’m glad to know that I was wrong. There is a way of healing this kind of relationship with food.

A 3-Step Solution to Overcome Emotional Eating

Three actions steps you need to take to start the healing process:

  1.  Get clear on your story around food. Ask yourself, “What is my identity around food?” You might say, “I’m a compulsive eater. I eat uncontrollably. I have zero willpower.” That’s a good place to start. Just get clear on that and acknowledge it.
  2.  Get on clear on the ideal story that you want around food. Ask yourself, “How do I want my relationship with food to be?” However, don’t change your story drastically. Going from “I’m a compulsive eater” to “I have a healthy relationship with food” will only make your brain say, “You’re a liar.”What you want to say is, “I am in the process of…” When you say “I am in the process of,” you take the power off of the old statement. Also, your brain is going to find evidence as to why that’s true. The good thing is it’s not going to find any evidence to the contrary.
  3.  Use your breath. Breathing helps you to go from a stressful state to a relaxed state. Binge eating is impossible when you are present. Anyway, you see it, using your breath is an effective way for you to stop feeling the need to use food as a drug.

To learn more about how our emotions impact our cravings, listen to my entire interview with Samantha Skelly here or you can play the audio or video player below:

Need Help With Emotional Eating?

Now that you know the answer to “What is emotional eating?” you may want to take the next step — finding freedom from emotional eating. I have a gift for you. My free Crave Cure Guide will help you overcome food cravings and take charge of your eating habits. Start your journey towards food freedom and better health today! Download the Crave Cure Guide here.


Read More: Emotional Eating: Everything You Need to Know to Stop It Permanently!


Share this:

Stephanie Dodier

Hello! I'm Stephanie, Clinical Nutritionist, author and host of The Beyond The Food Show and founder of The Beyond The Food Academy . I'm help women become intuitive eaters & body confident!. Get started now with my free Audio Training.

Comments are closed.