Ideas for Managing Emotional Eating, Part 1: Stress Eating

By Robyn Priebe
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A key piece of our healthy weight loss program is assessing whether emotional eating is a major contributor to weight gain.   The first step in tackling problematic emotional eating (not all emotional eating is a problem) is to identify your primary triggers and reflect on the most common situation/location you'd find yourself in when this trigger strikes.  This will help you plan the most appropriate and practical alternatives to eating.

For example, if the trigger is stress eating at the end of the day after work, your alternative to eating must reduce stress, not just be a substitute.  Planning to avoid eating by organizing your home office, working on continuing education, or helping your kids with homework probably won't help you reduce stress.  While those activities may be a distraction from eating, they are not serving the same purpose that the food would, helping you to de-stress and relax.

In terms of being practical, consider the location you are in when the emotional trigger strikes.  If you're dealing with frustration at work, going for a jog or taking a bubble bath is not going to fly.

Keeping these things in mind, I'd like to get a brainstorming session going with those of you who read our blog so we can help one another come up with a wide variety of tools to help us reduce the frequency of emotional eating.  This post will focus on ideas for tackling stress eating and I welcome any suggestions you have for stress reduction.  Below are some stress management ideas from Green Mountain at Fox Run staff:

  • Deep Breathing – it can be done anywhere and everyone knows how to do it.
  • Laughter – I like watching stand-up comedy. You can find 5-minute clips on youtube for a quick laugh or download podcasts of comedians.
  • A Good Cry – maybe not one for use during the work day, but at home with a tear-jerker movie and a box of tissues may work.
  • Meditation or Prayer - easy to use in most situations and doesn't require much time.
  • Creative Activity – my personal favorites are drawing, playing piano, stained glass projects, crochet, or paper crafts such as this magazine reed box.
  • Massage
  • Assertiveness & Selfness
  • Asking for Help
  • Journaling
  • Physical Activity
  • Music – my personal favorite; music always improves my mood and is easy to access in most situations.
  • Reading Something Inspirational


What strategies have you used to decrease stress and at the same time reduce stress eating?  What emotional trigger to eat would you like to see covered in our next brainstorming session?

2 Responses (Add Yours)

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