Emotional eating is eating in response to your feelings, not hunger.  Often junk foods or comfort foods are involved and usually in large amounts.  This is usually an attempt to avoid or stuff your feelings.  Which feelings trigger emotional eating are different for everyone.  It might be boredom, stress, depression, or anxiety to name a few.  Or your emotional eating might be a result of relationship problems, or due to poor self-esteem.  The following are some emotional eating alternatives to help you stop emotional eating before it starts.

Nyc-diet-planIdentify your emotions and your triggers.

Keep a journal of what you eat and more importantly how you were feeling when you ate.  If you have already eaten in the last three hours then you’re probably not eating due to hunger.  By keeping a journal you will be able to identify what your triggers are and that will help you to better combat them.

Get adequate amounts of sleep.

A 2011 study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people who slept for 9 hours ate 300 less calories per day than those who sleep for only 4 hours.  When you are tired you are more likely to eat in response to your emotions.


Exercise is a great emotional eating alternative.  Just a little exercise can increase your overall health and your sense of well-being.  It also causes a release of endorphins which are the brain’s feel good neurotransmitters.  This release of endorphins ultimately makes you feel better.

Studies have shown that regular exercise can increase your self-confidence and lower your chances for depression and anxiety.  It’s also known to help with sleep.  All of which help to ease stress and improve your overall mood.

Take a Time Out

Give yourself a time out.  Take the time to recognize if you are having emotional related cravings.  Then try a relaxation technique that works for you.  (Ex: Yoga, Meditation, Warm Shower)  Sometimes just taking the time to recognize your feelings and validate them and then taking a few deep relaxing breaths can work as a great emotional eating alternative.

Make a Plan

After identifying your triggers you can better create a plan.  Develop personal emotional eating alternatives.  Distraction is a powerful tool.  Read a book, take a bath, go for a walk, or call a friend.

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