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How to Overcome Emotional Eating

By Ritamarie Loscalzo

emotional eating strategies food addiction

In spite of our best intentions to follow the right diet program, emotional eating sometimes gets the best of us. Emotional eating is a habit whereby we use food to bypass feeling our emotions.

Emotional eating expert Tricia Nelson has helped thousands of clients, mostly women, to overcome emotional eating with her signature system, Heal Your Hunger.

What is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating comes in all shapes and sizes. The definition is eating for emotional reasons instead of for nourishment. This can look like deprivation or restriction of food, food binges, or linking eating patterns to certain activities or settings, like in front of the television at night.

The Root Cause of Emotional Eating

The three primary driving emotions of emotional eating can be summarized by Tricia’s PEP formula – Pain, Escape, and Punishment. While emotional eating is not always tied to unhealthy food, we often use high-calorie, sugary, or high-fat food to numb the body and mind from feeling emotional or physical pain. Eating offers a welcome distraction from the challenging times in our lives and provides the Escape. Emotional eaters have a tendency towards guilt and use unhealthy eating patterns to covertly “punish” themselves.

Common Traits of Emotional Eaters

People Pleasing

One of the most common profiles of an emotional eater is the People Pleaser. If you place the needs of others before your own well-being, you may reach for food to “nourish” you. What People Pleasers actually crave is not the food, but is to meet their own emotional, physical, and spiritual needs before helping others.

Extra Sensitive

Highly sensitive people who are easily wounded or triggered by situations or people often turn to food to numb or ease the pain of their emotions.

Overdoing and Overthinking

A racing mind is like a runaway train and sometimes eating is the easiest way for overthinkers to slow down/stop their constant stream of thoughts. However, the slowdown or pause is temporary after the eating episode is complete.

How to Stop Emotional Eating

Find Community

We have a 57% chance of becoming like the people around us, so if you want to overcome emotional eating, you must surround yourself with people who are pursuing a healthy relationship with food.

Prioritize Self-Care

In order to actually tend to our emotions bypassed by eating, we need to prioritize a self-care routine. Self-care can include meditation, walking, journaling, or something that buoys your spirit and lets you focus on your enjoyment.

Stick to the Three Meal Rule

Because emotional eating often doesn’t follow genuine body hunger, emotional eaters can lose a true sense of their body’s hunger signals. Sticking to a three meal per day plan, with a strict no-snacking rule, for three days is a good way to reset your body’s natural appetite signals.

Express Yourself

Often emotional eating is a result of not expressing ourselves and then covering up our self-expression with food. Developing language and confidence to express one’s own needs to others or perhaps just saying them out loud is a good first step.

Grow in Consciousness

Feeling alone or negativity about life in general are very common triggers to emotionally eat. Reading spiritual literature, spending time in nature, or saying daily affirmations can help us grown in our consciousness and feed our feeling of connection.

Identify Your S.O.U.R.C.E

It is crucial to identify thoughts and beliefs that are not serving you in order to overcome emotional eating. To evaluate your own blocks, Tricia has a handy acronym- S.O.U.R.C.E- which stands for spiritual void, old wounds, untrue beliefs, resentment, compromise, and ego.

Have Courage and Seek Help

It takes courage to be able to face the emotions, pain, and discomfort underneath our emotional eating reactions. But the way out is truly to go deep within and bravely face the pain that we have masked for so long with food.

If you would like to heal your relationship with food, address the underlying causes, and find a supportive community all at one time, check out Tricia Nelson’s Heal Your Hunger program.

Your Hunger and Your Hormones

If you feel that you are an emotional eater and want some hormonal support for balancing your hunger and appetite, check out our Sweet Spot Solution program.

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Medical Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, drritamarie.com, and the experts who have contributed. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

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