5 Step Plan to End Emotional Eating

Emotional eating can be a among the more challenging weight-related behaviors to change.

Many of us never learned coping skills. We feel a strong emotion, it can be either negative or positive emotions – and we use food to try to get away from the discomfort or to intensify the pleasure. When the cycle isn’t broken the effect will defeat any effort to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

Here is a simple 5-Step Game Plan to beat emotional eating.

Think of emotional eating as an opponent.

It’s an opponent that wants to win, but you are wiser, stronger, and capable of prevailing. The best defense is a good offense!

1. Analyze past emotional eating events to learn what are your triggers. Know your opponent.

  • What emotions typically trigger overeating?
  • What are your “emotional indulgences?”
  • How do they affect your adherence to your food plan?
  • How long does it take before you regain control?

The best way to defeat an opponent is to understand how your opponent attacked and why you didn’t prevail.

2. Train!

The bag of cookies in the cupboard can sit there untouched until you get upset! Training makes you stronger. Plan a serving of 1-2 cookies into your day once in a while rather than depriving yourself of them until you're feeling overwhelmed by an emotion.

The bag of cookies in the cupboard can sit there untouched until you get upset! Training makes you stronger. Plan a serving of 1-2 cookies into your day once in a while rather than depriving yourself of them until you’re feeling overwhelmed by an emotion.

Prepare to meet and defeat your opponent. A rigid approach to eating leaves you dissatisfied and when you give into emotional eating it’s hard to regain control. You need to be stronger than your opponent.

  • Don’t avoid your emotional indulgence foods until you’re frantically spooning premium ice cream into your mouth to try to avoid the uncomfortable feelings of your emotions.
  • Work them into your food plan and enjoy small servings of those foods while staying within your food plan limits.
  • Discover non-food activities that relax or entertain you. Engage in them often so that they become a first line of defense when you’re challenged by an overwhelming emotion.
  • If you do turn to food your training will help you minimize any negative effect your emotional indulgence will have on your progress.

3. Don’t allow yourself to get psyched out.

Whatever the emotion take a deep breath and remind yourself you are a superior opponent. This is a match you can win! Maintain your positivity!

4. Have a plan ready.

What activity instead of eating will enable you to cope with the emotion? If you choose to eat, you have trained to eat your emotional indulgence foods without losing control. Decide how you want to proceed. Keep in mind your winning outcome: You want to cope with your emotions in a positive way that supports your weight-related goals.

5. Implement your plan with faith that you can make it work and beat your opponent.

You won’t win every time. Accept failure, but reject not getting back up to try again! Your opponent isn’t better than you, it just wanted to WIN more than you did!

Be like Mike!

dreamstime_s_35612316Michael Jordan wasn’t always a winner.

The first time he got to the NBA playoffs, his Bulls were knocked out in the first round. The next two years, they were swept by the Boston Celtics. After that, the Bulls were beat by the Detroit Pistons three years in a row.

All Jordan knew was failure. But it only made him want to be better. He’s said, “Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

Video: “I’ve Missed More than 9,000 Shots in My Career”

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.