Navigating Emotional Eating



Let me paint a scenario for you.

You’re about 2 months into your new nutrition plan.

Everything is going great. You’ve lost weight. You’re motivated and honestly, you’re just absolutely crushing it. There have been no road blocks or anything! YAY!

Right?

Almost every single time this happens, life hits.

One day you wake up. Food is prepped and pre-logged. You’re ready to keep continuing on your amazing journey.

But before you leave, you get in a fight with your spouse/roommate/sibling/parent/friend.

Traffic sucks.

Then you mess up at work, and your job is threatened.

Then you get a phone call that a family member’s health.

Maybe you have to work late and you can’t make it into the gym.

Stress builds up and up until you can’t control it anymore.

Those little restrictions you’ve put in place to seeing results all hit at once. Cravings rise. Your inhibitions lower. You start to cave and eventually crumble.

One slice of pizza becomes two.

One cookie becomes the whole pack.

And so on...

Fast forward a month and you’ve regained all the amazing weight you’ve lost and maybe more. Your motivation is tanked. Your drive is all gone. Your gym attendance is garbage. Old habits have reintroduced themselves into your lives. All that hard work you put in is now gone.

Emotional eating is one of the #1 reasons people fail their diets. In a study that polled the top nutritional challenge to 100,000 individuals, 63% of people put it at the top of their list. Sixty-three percent. Thing of that number. That’s 63,000 people in that one questionnaire...all saying their biggest challenge is emotional/stress eating.

Navigating emotional and stress eating is a tough one. Everyone experiences stress differently, which means the triggers, responses, and most importantly the solutions are all going to be different.


This blog aims to help YOU navigate the world of emotional eating, specific to YOU. By the end of this article, you should have a clear idea as to 1. what triggers you, 2. what your general responses are to emotional stressors, and 3. how to solve your own personal response to stress eating.

When it rains, it pours

A number of things can trigger stress and the risk of emotional eating.

  • Fights with loved ones

  • Loss of a loved one

  • A family member’s poor health

  • News from today’s world (hi COVID, the shootings that led to BLM, COVID pt. 2, etc.)

  • Your job

  • Your health

  • Relationship status

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Loss of purpose

  • And so so much more

The problem with most stressful events is that it’s never one isolated event. IF it was, you likely could handle it.

But it’s never just one thing. To quote one of my favorite country singers, Luke Combs, “When it rains, it pours”.

One thing becomes two...which becomes three and so on. It’s not always that everything DOES actually come at one time...but you become more sensitive and aware to the problems and stressors you had originally been avoiding.

I remember recently, I found out a family member of mine was sick. Two days later, I found out my childhood cat had a few days left in his wonderful amazing life. All of this was during the initial wave of the coronavirus pandemic. To me, it felt like one thing was adding up to two then three. BUT then I become aware of the downward spiral. Because stress was entering my life, I started to then tack on all of the other stressors...that weren’t actually stressing me out...like finances, my job, my purpose, and so on.

In many check ins, I start to see this spiraling effect. ONE thing happened...but it opened the door for all of the other stressors waiting at the surface.

Which brings us to the very first step to take in navigating emotional eating tendencies.

STEP 1. GET AWARE

This is the very first step. Get aware as to when stress is starting to creep into your life. If you continue to practice and embrace the “ignorance is bliss” ideology, then the stress is only going to get worse and worse.

Awareness is the first step to seeing change. In order to figure out how to address your emotional eating habits, you need to do the work FIRST to figure out what causes you stress, how do you react, how long do you typically react, etc. Doing so will let you put back ups and habits in place to take over when stress enters your life.

If you are one who typically embraces the downward spiraling effect of stress, then getting aware of it is going to be the first step to stopping it.

Answer these questions:

  • What types of events and stressors trigger you? You likely know by this point. Go back to the list in the section above.

  • Which stressors out of that list commonly affect you? Write them down. Which ones aren’t on the list that you can add?

  • Are you a downward spiral-er?

  • How often does stress affect you and your nutrition?

So now we know WHAT is causing stress. Let’s now figure out HOW you express that stress.