5 Reasons Why You Haven’t Been Able To End Emotional Eating

We all enjoy eating.

And sometimes we overeat, or eat when we’re not hungry, simply because the food tastes delicious or because of the social setting that we’re in.

And when done in moderation, there’s nothing wrong with sometimes using food to celebrate life or to really savour your favourite food.

Food is meant to be enjoyed, and it’s perfectly normal to derive pleasure and comfort from eating.

So, when does it become a problem?

When using food regularly to calm, soothe, comfort, and distract yourself from uncomfortable emotional states, and trying to fill up an inner emptiness becomes a habit.

And it’s true…. it does work…. you feel soothed…. it makes you feel better.

And while this does succeed in giving you a temporary distraction (yes it does make you feel better in the moment), it isn’t an effective long-term strategy for meeting your emotional needs.

Using food as your primary way of managing uncomfortable emotions can have many unwanted side effects….

  • Weight Gain
  •  Digestive Issues 
  •  Feelings Of Shame Or Guilt
  •  Sabotaging Your Overall Health

So, why have your previous attempts at controlling your emotional eating failed?


Reason 1: Misunderstanding Emotional Eating

One of the main reasons many people struggle to conquer emotional eating is a misunderstanding of what it actually is.

Emotional eating is not just about eating when you’re sad or stressed; it’s about using food as a coping mechanism for emotional distress.

The Solution: Start by educating yourself about emotional eating. Recognise it’s a complex relationship between emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. Understand that it’s not simply a matter of willpower. It’s understanding why you’re seeking comfort and learning healthier ways to provide it.


Reason 2: Lack of Emotional Awareness

Another hurdle on the path to ending emotional eating is a lack of emotional awareness. Sometimes, we’re not fully in touch with our emotions, making it challenging to identify the triggers for our eating habits.

Learn to sit with your emotions.

This might sound uncomfortable, and it probably will be at first.

Practise sitting with a feeling – acknowledge it, allow it to be present, and remember it’s ok to feel uncomfortable sometimes.

Our feelings, even challenging ones, don’t need to be fixed or numbed. They simply need to be felt and understood.

The Solution: Begin practicing emotional awareness.

Simply be still. Lovingly give yourself the time and attention you deserve.

Journal your feelings.

Use mindfulness exercises.

The more you understand your emotions, the easier it becomes to address them in healthier ways.


Reason 3: Unrealistic Expectations

It’s easy to expect that once we decide to stop emotional eating, it should happen overnight. Unrealistic expectations can lead to frustration and a sense of failure when you slip up.

The Solution: Adjust your expectations. Understand finding freedom from emotional eating is a process, not a one-time event. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories along the way.


Reason 4: Relying Solely on Willpower

Many of us try to conquer emotional eating through sheer willpower.

While willpower can help you initially, it’s a strategy that often sees you fail and end up back where you began.

It’s not always enough to combat deeply ingrained habits and emotional triggers.

Willpower is a function of your logical, conscious mind. The part of your mind responsible for decision making, setting goals, and devising strategies to achieve them.

This often clashes with deeply ingrained habits formed and controlled by your subconscious mind.

These habits can be hard to break solely through conscious effort, leading to that constant internal struggle.

The Solution: Hypnosis can help you take a closer look at what’s really happening under the surface, release all the emotional baggage and rewrite new patterns of behaviour.


Reason 5: Emotional Eating as a Comfort Zone

Emotional eating becomes a comfort zone in itself. It’s a familiar response to stress, sadness, or boredom, even though it’s not healthy.

The Solution: Work on finding healthier coping mechanisms that can become your new comfort zone. Engage in activities you enjoy, such as reading, art, or exercise, to replace the emotional eating habit.


So, How Can You End Emotional Eating When All Previous Attempts Have Failed?


1. Self-Compassion and Forgiveness

Be kind to yourself.

It’s easy to get caught in a debilitating food cycle. You start off each day with good intentions only to fall at the last hurdle. The compulsion to fill yourself with comfort food is simply too much.

Then continues the cycle of feeling shame and guilt.

As you tune into your inner dialogue, the clearer you see just how much space and energy it occupies.

Take the time to look at what you say to yourself with compassion and curiosity.

Understand that setbacks are a natural part of any journey.

Instead of berating yourself for a slip-up, practice self-compassion and forgive yourself. Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes, they’re valuable learning experiences.

2. Mindful Eating

Embrace mindful eating practices. Pay attention to what you’re eating, savour each bite, and listen to your body’s hunger cues. Mindful eating helps you connect with your body’s natural signals and reduces the likelihood of impulsive emotional eating.

3. Emotional Coping Strategies

Find more nourishing ways to soothe and calm yourself.

Develop a toolbox of healthy emotional coping strategies.

Learning some self-help tools to calm any overwhelming feelings that previously led you to seek comfort from food.

Use these to take your power back.

These can include self-hypnosis, deep breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, or having fun doing that hobby you love.

When you feel the urge to emotionally eat, turn to one of these strategies instead.

4. Identify Triggers

Become a detective of your own emotions.

Identify the triggers that lead to emotional eating.

Is it stress from work? Relationship issues? Loneliness? Once you recognize the triggers, you can work on addressing them directly.

5. Seek support

You know you’re intelligent, you know what to eat to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

You should be able to solve this all by ourself, right?

It often takes someone else to help you get to the root of the problem, to help you take a closer look under the surface.

Don’t go it alone.

Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist who can offer emotional support and practical advice.

Having a support system can make a world of difference on your journey to breaking free from emotional eating.

6. Keep a Mood and Food Journal

Track your eating habits and emotions in a journal.

Use your curiosity to identify patterns and gain insight into your emotional eating triggers. It’s a valuable tool for self-awareness.

7. Practice Patience

Remember that breaking free from emotional eating is a journey, and it may not happen overnight. Be patient with yourself and stay committed to the process

8. Celebrate Your Successes

Celebrate every small victory along the way. Whether it’s a day without emotional eating, trying a new coping strategy, or gaining a deeper understanding of your emotions, each step forward is worth celebrating.

Ending emotional eating is a challenging but incredibly rewarding journey.

It’s not about perfection, it’s about curiosity, progress and self-discovery. By understanding the reasons behind your previous struggles and implementing these practical strategies, you can find the freedom you crave.

Remember, you’ve already got the strength and resilience you need, sometimes it’s just a case of unearthing it.

Keep moving forward, and one day in the near future, emotional eating will be a thing of the past, and you’ll have a healthier, happier relationship with food and your emotions.

You can do this….and it might be easier than you think.