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Three-step process to stop emotional eating


3 steps to stop emotional eating 


When we feel sad, worried, or anxious, the feeling is not asking for food. It is asking for ATTENTION. 


Why do we grab food when we have negative emotions? It’s our brain’s way of keeping us safe. That’s its #1 purpose. It’s kind of sweet when you think about it, but it doesn’t help us grow emotionally and it doesn’t help us achieve our health goals. So the next time you have the urge to feed your feelings, here’s a three-step process to help guide you through. 


  1. Identify the feeling. We often respond to the feeling by eating before we even recognize what the feeling is. Stay with it until you can put a name to it. You can ask yourself questions like:


  • What’s really going on here? 

  • Can I detect any physical sensation that might point me in the right direction to what I’m feeling? (heavy in the chest, tension in the shoulders, knot in throat, suppressed motion, like you want to explode, yell, run, etc.)

  • What was I just thinking about before the urge to eat came up?



  1. Once you identify the feeling, it’s time to handle it. 

Ask yourself:

  • What do I really need right now? (connection, validation, rest, a break, help, etc.)

  • How else might I meet that need? (texting a friend, asking for help, having a good cry, taking a walk, etc.)


  1. Pause and recognize what is happening. 

Ask yourself …

  • How do I want to feel in five minutes?

  • How do I want to feel about myself at the end of the day 


This pause gives the executive decision making part of your brain engaged in the process. See, the part of your brain that urges you to eat, that wants to keep you safe, doesn’t understand that you have goals. It doesn’t understand that you can handle your emotions, that you can grow emotionally. It just detects pain and wants to keep you safe. 


Emotional eating is something that so many of us struggle with and we think we’re making it better in the moment. But we all know what comes after eating: the shame and disappointment in ourselves. This three-step process gets that higher brain back to work in the moment you need it and helps you navigate the negative feeling while not ditching your health goals. 


I hope that you find this helpful! It’s hard to allow emotions to “be”. It’s uncomfortable and painful. But we are strong! 


If you need help resolving your emotional eating, reach out and let’s talk. You can always set up a free 15 minute call to see how we might partner in this. Click HERE to do that.  You can learn more about SSS Academy HERE.

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