Do you mix food and feelings?

Food & feelings

When you are feeling stressed, bored or depressed, do you find yourself reaching for food?

As emotional beings, our relationship to food IS emotional. We take pleasure in eating. Food is not just fuel to us. But if you find yourself regularly using food to numb emotions or stress, its time to take a deeper look at what’s really going on.

Here are some steps you can take to bring a level of awareness to help you cope with emotional eating.

1. Identify your true need

Ask yourself whether you are hungry. If you are not actually hungry for food, ask yourself what you are hungry for – this could be love or connection or stimulation. According to Linda Spangle, when we are feeling angry, aggressive or stressed, we tend to crave more crunchy foods such as chips, cookies or crackers. When we are feeling more sadness, loneliness, fatigue or comfort we crave more mushy and smooth foods like chocolate, ice-cream or pasta. Often, craving something sweet means we are looking for more sweetness and pleasure in our lives – perhaps as a resulting from too much work and not having enough me-time. You can use your craving as a clue to help decipher your true need.

2. Find non-food ways of meeting your true hunger

Once you have identified WHY you are craving food without being hungry, realize that eating is not going to do the trick. Your cravings or binges are not actually the problem – the problem is what you are avoiding by eating. Try instead to identity what’s going on before you are tempted to eat and make a list of alternative ways you can address this need, such as talking to a friend or going out more if you are bored or doing things that bring you pleasure if you are craving more sweetness in your life.

3. Feel it, don’t fix it

If you just feel overwhelming feelings and can’t stop to ask yourself what you’re really hungry for, try to just feel what you are feeling for 30 seconds without judgment and without trying to fix it. Even if it feels like your emotions are going to swallow you whole, when you stop and just tune into your body to feel what is happening and where the emotion is within you, you are taking a first step towards bringing awareness to emotional eating. All emotions actually have a physical root, so trying to identify in your body what you are feeling is a very powerful tool to helping you cope with emotions.

4. Bring more satisfaction to your meals…and your life

Eating meals that truly satisfy you actually decreases the risk that you crave or binge on certain foods. According to Marc David, if your body does not register satisfaction when eating because you are eating food you don’t actually like or are not taking time to enjoy it, your body’s signal will be for MORE food which leads to binges or cravings.

Are your meals truly satisfying, do you take time to enjoy them and get the most out of them? Are you truly honoring your hunger and eating when your body tells you it needs food or are you waiting so long that you lose all control when you see food? Do you restrict yourself when it comes to ‘bad’ foods? Restriction actually leads to rebellion and loss of control, so try eating your ‘bad’ foods in moderation to avoid reaching this stage.

5. Be gentle with yourself

Above all, be gentle with yourself. If you are using emotional eating as a coping mechanism, there is a perfectly good reason for this. Change takes time and you can choose to focus on every tiny victory along the way instead of lamenting what isn’t working.

Apply an attitude of nonjudgmental curiosity and start investigating what is REALLY going on in your life. And if you need help with this, don’t hesitate to book a free chat with me to discuss how I can support you on this journey.


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  • Faris on Aug 05, 2013 Reply

    Wow – this is such an important topic and one that I suffer from greatly. Thank you for treating it with such sensitivity. I will try number 3 – feeling, not fixing – next time a binge feeling sets in …

    • Hiba on Sep 19, 2013 Reply

      I’m glad you found it helpful!

      • Jeannie on Dec 02, 2016 Reply

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      • nak check kredit u mobile on Jan 28, 2017 Reply

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