Stop Emotional Eating by Stopping All-or-Nothing Thinking

by Marsha Hudnall

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Strategies For Normal Eating

Break the all-or-nothing thinking of dieters and emotional overeaters with strategies that foster normal eating.

Take Our Diet Mentality Quiz:
Surprising Reason Behind Weight Gain
Answer these questions to gauge your emotional eating attitudes.

  • Do you eat to comfort yourself?
  • Do you think it’s inappropriate to do so?
  • When you eat emotionally, do you feel guilty?

If you’re like many of the women who come to Green Mountain at Fox Run, you answered yes to all these questions.

But do you realize that a “yes” answer to the last two questions may be a bigger obstacle to your health and fitness than the fact that you do eat emotionally?

Stopping Emotional Eating Completely Isn’t The Goal

Emotional eating is normal. According to Ellyn Satter, MS, RD, CICSW, normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad, or bored, or just because it feels good.

stop emotional eatingThink about it. What could be wrong with a soothing comfort food like hot cocoa after an afternoon of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing? Or the emotional pleasure you get from Valentine’s candy from someone special? Or the comfort of a delicious meal after a stressful week at work?

Believing you should never eat in response to emotions is a good example of the all-or-nothing thinking of dieters.

When dieters believe they are being “good,” they never eat emotionally. But, when they fall off the wagon, they frequently fall prey to emotional overeating or bingeing.

That’s because they think they have failed – in other words, they emotionally react and turn to food to cope.

If, on the other hand, dieters recognized that it’s okay to sometimes eat emotionally (and eat foods other than diets usually allow), they would be less likely to emotionally react and turn to self-defeating behaviors, including more diets and disordered eating.


Giving yourself permission to enjoy eating on occasions that have nothing to do with physical hunger is important to avoid feelings of deprivation.

Read This Related Article:
Emotions and Food
If you eat emotionally to excess, however, it’s important to explore why, and begin to develop ways to cope that don’t involve food. Alternative coping strategies, including new health and fitness behaviors, are key to stopping emotional eating in excess, and to help you become a normal eater

So enjoy your emotional eating on occasion. It’s good for you!

But if you tend to take it to extremes, read more about stopping emotional eating to discover why you may be doing so and how you can begin to change that habit.


Learn About Our Emotional & Binge Eating Intensive Weekend
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