General Question

cthulette's avatar

How can I stop emotional eating?

Asked by cthulette (177points) June 15th, 2010

For the past two weeks I’ve been taking a summer class in a city that has positively nothing to do during the summer. It’s boring and dismal and I’ve found myself growing depressed and I’ve found that the only things that make me feel better are cooking and eating, and I’ve been eating rather compulsively lately. I haven’t been able to exercise much either with long study hours and perpetual bad weather, though I’ve been walking or riding my bike everywhere. Basically, how can I control the urge to eat when I’m not hungry?

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16 Answers

anartist's avatar

Eat things you don’t like.

MrsDufresne's avatar

The first thing I would suggest is that you eat three substantial and healthy meals a day, and two snacks in between if you wish. Be conscious about the time of day when you have your meals.

When you feel emotional depression, recognize that eating something will not make the pain resolve itself. Reaching for food to ease emotional pain and/or depression, is sort of the same as taking an aspirin for a headache. It will not cure the underlying cause, it will only provide ease temporarily.

Allow yourself to feel the hurt inside your body without reaching for food to ease it. Cry if you have to. Give your body permission to feel the pain.

This may be very difficult to do at first, but over time, it will become easier to recognize that emotional pain can only be fully resolved by it’s awareness, and thorough, constructive expression. A wise man once said, “The only way out is through.”

By eating, it seems like that is an attempt to nourish (and therefore heal) the part that hurts. But in order to heal, the pain needs cleansing, not nourishment.

All the best to you.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Make yourself exercise for 10 minutes, then if you still want it eat. You will find you are less likely to eat and when you do you’ll eat less.

If you have a doorway or narrow hallway, you can always exercise by placing your hands on opposite walls and trying to push the door frame/walls apart. Just make sure the wall is sturdy enough to survive the abuse. That is why I prefer door frames.

Your_Majesty's avatar

Drink lots of water before you’re going to eat your desired snack. It’ll make you urinate more but also make you eat less. Don’t make cooking as your ritual if you really don’t want to eat the result of it.

Seek's avatar

@Doctor_D has it!

Most “hunger” is really thirst in disguise. Drink an 8 oz glass of water before you eat anything. You might find you weren’t in the mood to eat anything after all.

This is actually something I’m working on myself. I’m a huge compulsive eater. Eat out of boredom, eat out of anger, eat out of happiness… it’s amazing I’m not 300 lbs. I’ve recently started the glass of water trick, and it’s working quite well.

filmfann's avatar

Rice cakes.

that shit is nasty

lifeflame's avatar

1. Eat whatever you are eating slowly and consciously. And enjoy it… really taste it. Chew it. By repressing the urge you are actually more likely to eat it.

2. If you are going to snack anyway, surround yourself by healthy snacks. Preferably ones that take a lot of effort. (e.g., Chinese wintermelon seeds are great because it takes a lot of time to get them out of their shell… lot of effort, low return) The water idea sounds great.

3. I find that when I am studying, I get the nibbles. it’s really distraction rather than hunger. What about chewing gum? Yoga stretches? (can be done in small space)...

Axarraekji's avatar

In my opinion food is not the problem. You will not stop emotional eating until you fix the emotions. They will not go away by eating rice cakes (though that is a funny suggestion).

Do your best to socialize! My boring place turns into a very fulfilling place when there is a friend there, even if we just talk for a while. When you have social things to do, not only will that occupy your attention and satisfy your body’s natural emotional, intellectual, and social needs, it will occupy your thoughts as you prepare for and reflect upon those social events.

Or, if it isn’t socialization that you’re lacking, found out what is!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Go outside and get some sunshine Sunshine.

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tedibear's avatar

For anyone who is an emotional eater, I recommend this book, The Food and Feelings Workbook, by Karen Koenig. I got as far as chapter 3 and it helped me immensely. I need to get back to it because I’ve had a couple of moments lately where I’ve been eating my feelings. They don’t taste very good. :~(

That being said, it sounds like this may be situational as opposed to a bigger problem. I think that you have received a good bit of advice here. Do something to distract yourself from eating for comfort. Move around, do something creative (draw, paint, color), call a friend, come to Fluther. Another thought – put a note wherever there’s food that says, “Are you hungry or are you bored?” That’s your reminder to pay attention to why you’re eating.

SebastianUllmark's avatar

A friend of mine has studied some about this. She herself has been struggling against her weight and this is her theory:

She told me that she believes in a connection in emotional eating that derives from a mental pattern which itself is a confused state of need and cravings. She based this theory in many things, but the major thing she personally felt, was a lack of security in her childhood. This, she claims, left her to search for control in her life, which wasn’t provided for anywhere else. When you can’t control the circumstances of your life, you can always control some things. Eating is one. No one else can force you to eat if you don’t want to, and the same goes for not eating. Now she felt like she could eat when she wanted to, and stop when she wanted to. The problem here is that, like with everything you attach to feelings, she got hooked on it. Soon she got the feelings of wanting food and needing food mixed up, and couldn’t tell the difference. A “healthy” person could when feeling the cravings for something say to oneself: “No, I don’t need it”, as opposed to a person suffering from an eating disorder couldn’t.

My tip, is to sort out the basics of this story. What I mean is, that you may need to distinguish the difference between Needing that food, and Wanting it. There is a huge difference.

boxer3's avatar

to stop myself from mindlessly eating, I chew sugar free gum, in a variety of flavors.
works for me :]

Seek's avatar


I just put an “Are you Hungry, or are you Bored?” sign on my ‘fridge. ^_^

tedibear's avatar

@Seek_KolinahrHappy to help. Worked well for a couple of my friends.

kerplunk226's avatar

Whenever you’re craving food but aren’t really hungry, drink some water (I like mine with lemon because it’s more satisfying).
Also, make sure to take breaks during studying because I ALWAYS feel compelled to eat when I study. At least walk around periodically or try to sit outside while reading. Lastly, maybe study while you are getting some form of exerice like on a stationary bike.

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