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Why Do We Struggle With Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating can be described as routinely turning to food as a coping mechanism; eating to escape, numb, change or amplify feelings.

Research shows that 75% of eating is emotionally driven. We often eat not because we are hungry, but because we are bored, stressed or feeling anxious.

Did you know that there is a biological connection between stress and emotional eating? The body produces cortisol when it is stressed, alarmed, or upset, and cortisol makes us crave salty, sweet, and fatty foods! Before we became a civilized society no longer needing to hunt for food, our bodies told us when we needed food to be able to fight, or flight but now we are bombarded with advertisements for all kinds of feel-good foods, such as chocolate, sugary drinks and these same seemingly happy people in these advertisements encourage us to eat or drink these things to also feel happy, and we end up doing so to self-soothe.

Is any of this familiar to you?

Standing in your kitchen crunching through an entire bag of potato chips (crisps, if you're from England.)

Eating a huge bowl of ice-cream becuase you are sad.

Sabotaging yourself by ordering a pizza instead of eating the nutritious meal you intended to eat.

Making a coffee wit the intention of having just two cookies with it, and polishing off the whole package.

Sudden urgent cravings for something.

Craving a particular food and nothing else will work.

Using food to make you feel better, and perhaps over eating.

Feeling shame or guilt over your eating habits.

When you are feeling stressed and your go-to or only way of managing the stress is to turn to food, that is when emotional eating can become a problem.

Binge eating, emotional eating, and over eating are all ways we react to our emotions, without really understanding why we do it.

Sometimes, when there is unprocessed trauma in our lives, we can lean on emotional eating as a way to cope with life's stressors. Coaching can help to educate you around emotional eating, as well as seeking out a therapist or a dietician.

When addressing emotional eating there are several things you can do for yourself:

  1. Don't let yourself get too hungry. Hungry and angry combined is sometimes referred to as "hangry" and it is not a good place to be in as it can make you very irritable, and set you up to eat unhealthy fast foods, so plan ahead, and include protein with each meal.

  2. Be mindful of what you eat, why and when, keeping a food journal will help with this, logging not only what you ate but how you were feeling when you ate it, will help. Learn what your go to food is when you feel stressed.

  3. Eat a healthy well-balanced nutritious diet of all types of foods, include healthy fats, protein, fresh fruits and vegetables and be sure to drink lots of water.

  4. Reach out to a coach, dietician, physician or therapist.

  5. Consider using hypnotherapy to help you to change your mindset around emotional eating.

If you would like a free Emotional Eating Hypnosis recording, please send an email to and I will forward it to you!

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