4 Ways to Curb Emotional Eating

Elle Penner, MPH, RD
by Elle Penner, MPH, RD
Share it:
4 Ways to Curb Emotional Eating

Millions of people are affected by emotional eating. Though food is as delicious as it’s exciting and comforting, using it to cope with emotions like anxiety, loneliness, boredom or pain only alleviates those feelings temporarily—and it’s usually followed by major post-binge guilt. Luckily, seeking out social support can help you overcome your food crutch.


One in two people blame bingeing on mood swings, so you’re probably not the only one in your social circle eating to feel better. While unsupportive social interactions could be a potential trigger — especially ones that make you feel stressed — social support can play an important role in overcoming emotional eating, particularly for those who tend to shut down when emotions run high. Improve your social network by disengaging with those who are negative, and reach out to people you trust — family, friends and co-workers. Consider finding a community in groups like Overeaters Anonymous. Using the strength and support of others can help you work through those tough emotions without turning to food.


Tackling emotional eating requires that you face those emotions that send you turning to food. By acknowledging those trigger emotions, you’re being honest with yourself and building trust with those who want to help you. Sometimes a simple conversation can even uncover new emotions you’ve never related to overeating before. For example, it’s possible certain stressful social situations make you more likely to overeat. Once you’ve identified your emotional eating triggers, you’ll be in more control of curbing your emotional eating.


When working to overcome an undesired behavior, it’s helpful (and natural) to replace one habit with another. Once you’ve talked about your emotional eating triggers, brainstorm some eating alternatives with your support network for the next time your emotions run high. One of the obvious ones should be to immediately call a friend, family member, co-worker or someone from your support group. We all know that two heads are better than one, so the more ideas you can come up with the better prepared you’ll be.



A great strategy to prevent emotional eating is to substitute food with a short bout of exercise with your fitness-minded friends. Physically, exercise reduces stress and anxiety, alleviates boredom and releases feel-good endorphins. Getting one of your supportive friends to join you can squash feelings of loneliness and anxiety and provide an opportunity for you to vent, too. The next time your emotions get the best of you, call up a friend for a 20-minute sweat session or a walk-and-talk around the block.

Emotional eating is more common than you think, so don’t be afraid to seek support from your social circle. Social support can be a powerful component on your road to recovery.

About the Author

Elle Penner, MPH, RD
Elle Penner, MPH, RD

Elle is a nutrition and wellness writer, recipe developer, blogger and nutrition consultant whose favorite things include her camera, carbs and quality time with her toddler. For more from this busy mama, check out Elle’s lifestyle blog or connect with her on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.


Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MyFitnessPal desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest health and fitness advice.


Click the 'Allow' Button Above


You're all set.