How to stop emotional eating

Disconnecting food with how you feel can put you on track to stop emotional eating.

Emotional eating and over-eating usually go hand-in-hand. Dr. Caroline Cederquist, the medical director and co-founder of bistroMD, tells Metro how to end the pattern for good.

Is there a difference between stress eating and emotional eating?

Stress eating is a component of emotional eating. Emotional eating is eating when the reason is not to quench hunger or meet nutritional needs.

How does emotional eating develop?

Most of us are raised in families that celebrate with cookies or treats. The connection between food and good emotions are made, but over time, every emotion becomes a connection. I often have patients who say they love food because it doesn’t want anything from them. But it’s a fallacy because it does want something from you. It wants to sit on your hips. Instead of eating, take time for yourself. Take a bath, or read a book.

What are some other ideas for quitting?

Try to disconnect food from emotional stimuli. If we are to take control, we have to change that reflex. It helps to keep a food log. Write down how you felt before eating, what you ate and how you felt after. Then ask what can you do next time the situation comes up. It requires work, but it’s work worth doing. The secrets for success are within us.

Start with your cart

Just like she would for anyone else, Dr. Cederquist recommends emotional eaters plan out a well-balanced diet with a proper combination of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Good daily eating habits begin with your shopping cart: “The choices we make feed into this emotional eating cycle,” she says. “Feeling out of control is demoralizing. The big challenge is to break the cycle. What are the problem foods for you, what do you lose control over? Don’t buy [those foods]. Clear out your cupboards. Saying no once in the store is easier than trying to say it a thousand times at home.”


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