Stop Eating Your Emotions! Three Unusual Strategies to Keep Emotional Eating At Bay

I realize these strategies are somewhat out of the ordinary, but if you're willing to apply them without limitation they work like gangbusters!
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Let's get real... overeating sucks!

There is nothing good about it at all.

  • You feel uncomfortable because you're so full.
  • You are mad or even disgusted with yourself for giving in.
  • You feel like a failure.
  • And the worst part, looking back you probably didn't even savor each bite to make the pain worth it.

If this has ever happened to you, just know you are not alone and more importantly, there IS a solution! In the following blog, I will teach you three counter-intuitive strategies that will squash out your emotional overeating problem once and for all! Practice the following three strategies as often as you can for the most effective results.

1. The Paradox of Permission:

There is a concept in intuitive eating called The Paradox of Permission. It states that if you give yourself unconditional permission to eat any foods you like, then after consistently practicing this, you will no longer crave most of the foods you thought had power over you in the first place. In other words, the less you fight the cravings, the less the cravings will appear, and the food will be taken down from it's pedestal since it's no longer forbidden.

Try this: The next time you're at a big gathering or party with tons of food, instead of mentally naming all the foods that you shouldn't have, tell yourself that you can have whatever you want and as much as you want of anything you see. Then, serve yourself accordingly. When you hear a 'judgy' comment pop into your head about how you shouldn't be eating this, calmly tell yourself that you are granted unconditional permission to eat and that this is necessary if you want to rid yourself of food obsession.

Still not convinced? Allow me prove my point: If I tell you not to think of pink hippos right now what pops into your mind immediately? I said stop it. Stop thinking of pink hippos dammit...Now, if I tell you to think about whatever the heck you want, what do you think about? Sure, maybe you thought of pink hippos for a little while, but then you probably got bored and started thinking about other more productive things like "how long has it been since my son has had a bath? I'd better slot that in today."

This is the same idea with the Paradox of Permission. If you tell yourself (or worse, some diet guru tells you) not to eat a particular food or foods what is the one thing you're going to think about, pine over or just plain obsess about? Exactly- those foods that are off limits. Take them off their pedestal and eat them already!

You will find that after just a few times of practicing this technique, you eat a lot less of the previously restricted foods than when you were constantly telling yourself what you should not be eating in the past.

Goodbye Emotional Overeating. Hello Freed up Grey Matter!


2. Eat What You Love and Love What You Eat!

In other words, from here on out, you need to make sure that you are only eating the foods that you really really REALLY want. If at a restaurant or a family gathering, don't grab every food that's been set out just because it's available. From now on, when making decisions about what to eat say to yourself:

"I eat what I love and I love what I eat!"

If you don't LOVE something, what ever you do- DO NOT eat it! Don't make food choices based on other people's feelings or judgments about you. Don't eat foods that you feel luke warm about. Be true to your body and taste buds. Tell the friend who wants to order dessert after a nice dinner out that while you'd love to eat a slice of carrot cake (even though you hate carrots...and cake), you have no room left in your stomach from the delicious steak and potatoes entree you just ordered.

Remember, you are not eating just to eat. You are eating to satisfy physical hunger AND to satisfy your emotional hunger for those certain yummy foods that you absolutely LOVE.

"The more you eat, the less flavor, the less you eat, the more flavor."

-Chinese Proverb

Eating anything that you don't really care for will take away from the enjoyment of eating your favorite foods because research has proven that enjoyment of foods that you deem "delicious" decreases as physical hunger starts to subside. So in the end, you will not only derive more pleasure from your meals, you will eat less too.

Voila, you no longer have the desire to eat out of boredom or deprivation due to eating bland, tasteless, crud (aka my aunt's weird marshmallow coconut jello dish that she brings to EVERY family gathering).

3. You are WHO You Eat With!

Who we eat with Matters! Their attitudes, comments and other factors about them can heavily influence the way you eat. How do your friends, family co-workers impact the way you eat?

List each person out in your mind or on a sheet of paper that you eat with regularly and answer the following question honestly:

"How do certain people impact the way I eat?"
Spouse or Partner
Children in your life
Extended Family
Immediate Family

List their names and why/how they impact the way you eat. If you find a few people have a negative impact on the way you eat, make a game plan for how you're going to deal with these people in situations where you are eating together.


"My grandmother pushes food on me, even when I'm full. I need to become more assertive and tell Granny in a firm but gentle way that I've had enough. I will continue to refuse (even if she offers several times). If I say yes after several No's I am training her to continue asking until I give in."

"My spouse strikes up stressful conversations with me at the dinner table almost every night. I can't enjoy my food and in fact, end up shoveling it in without noticing I'm eating because I am so stressed out by the things he is saying. I will need to ask him to keep these topics out of family dinnertime and ask that he only bring up pleasant subjects of conversation until dinner is over."

"I get so bored with constantly playing with the kids and doing kid activities every day that the only thing I have to look forward to is eating at snack and meal time. I eat and eat because I know that when I am done, I'll have to take on more tasks that bore me or make me feel unfulfilled. I need to sit down at night and list out some non-food activities that I can do with the kids that will keep me entertained and give me some enjoyment along with the kids like enjoying a movie together, taking walks in the park or going to the mall to look at clothes for both me and them."

Another example that I used to personally struggle with was eating in public or at my work cafeteria where I thought strangers and co-workers were watching me and judging my every bite. Therefore, I always ordered salad or packed "good-girl" foods to have for my lunch when I knew I'd be in view of others. I ended up feeling so deprived by the end of the week that I would rush home to binge-eat "naughty" foods all weekend long. Or worse, I would go into the bathroom at work just so I could shove chips or a brownie in my face as fast as I could, then hide the evidence in under used paper towels in the bathroom trash...this is no way to live people.

What you need to understand is that overcoming Emotional Eating is a journey. You (and your coach) are the only ones that know what you need to do to heal your relationship with food. Therefore, nobody should be telling you what, when or how much to eat. People pleasing by eating too much, not enough or depriving yourself as a sort of "badge of honor" is not going to fly any longer if you are serious about ending your obsession with food and putting a stop to Emotional Eating for good.

I realize these strategies are somewhat out of the ordinary, but if you're willing to apply them without limitation they work like gangbusters! After all, if your past attempts at restriction, crash-dieting, exercise-as-penance plans had worked for you, you probably wouldn't be reading this blog in the first place. Try them out and then send me your comments and let me know how they are working for you!