How To Stop Emotional Eating – Step 1 – Check The Basics 

 March 20, 2019

By  jennifer@thinkingnutrition.co.nz

“My biggest challenge with healthy eating is emotional eating. Ugh!”

You’re not alone. I’ve turned to the pantry for comfort when I’m tired and emotional too. Or found myself eating in reaction to stress or frustration (hello fellow tired mums!).

Some days I just don’t have the energy to deal with my four year old’s evening antics. He slowly tortures me when asked to brush his teeth. Taking one incy-wincy, teeny-tiny little step at a time, seeing how slowly he can walk to the bathroom while watching my face for a reaction. Sigh.

Then the same slow-race begins again as we head to his bedroom.

And then I weather a(nother) massive bedtime tantrum for removing bedtime privileges (for one too many slow-races). Tired, dejected, feeling like a parenting failure. It often feels like a Mallowpuff or two, will make the situation better, even though I know it won’t. But I don’t care.

The Mallowpuff will taste good – and I want something good.

But what happens when one Mallowpuff becomes a pile of ‘puffs along with a pick ‘n mix of other delectable play foods?

Step 1 – Check The Basics – Your Hunger

Before the guilt rolls in and you’re angrily punishing yourself – make sure you’re listening to your hunger cues.

“A ravenous person is bound to overeat, regardless of his or her intention,” wrote Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in Intuitive Eating.

You can’t out-smart your biology.

Your body won’t allow you to starve without a fight.

And that fight involves your body amping up your desire for high-energy snack foods like chocolate, chips and candy. It pushes you to grab as much chocolate as possible, not a limp lettuce leaf, because it knows you need that energy to survive.

What you think is out-of-control emotional eating, is actually biologically-driven overeating in response to hunger.

  • Are you really listening to your hunger cues?
  • Are you always (ALWAYS) honouring hunger and eating in response to it?
  • Or are you letting yourself get over-hungry so that by day’s end, you’re an out-of-control, half-starved wreck who would hoover down the entire pantry given the chance?

Know Your Hunger – Know When You’re Really Eating For Emotional Reasons

Get to know your hunger inside out, back-to-front and upside down, so you can honour it.

Then you’ll know whether you’re eating for reasons OTHER than hunger, such as eating for emotional reasons. (Note: Emotional eating almost always happens in the absence of hunger).

So STEP 1 – in dealing with emotional eating, is to make sure you really know when you’re hungry and when you’re not hungry.

Because you may think you’re emotionally eating when you’re “tired and emotional”, but the reality is you’re “tired and emotional” because you’re hungry. Both lethargy/tiredness and feeling more emotional can be signs of hunger – it isn’t always about a rumbling tummy that signals hunger.

Get to know your hunger like the back of your hand – and you’ve taken the first step to really working out if and when you’re an emotional eater.

Jennifer xo.



Hey, I’m Jennifer. I help women transform their relationship with food, their body and weight, so they can ditch the guilt and shame, and focus on more important stuff - like living a happy and healthy life!

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