Tips to help you combat emotional eating

Nutritionist and Centre Manager at Bupa UK
09 April 2018

When you’re tired, bored or stressed, do you turn to food for comfort? If this rings a bell, you could be letting your emotions rule your eating habits and using food to deal with feelings rather than hunger.

Identifying your triggers can help you to manage your emotions so that food isn’t your first port of call. Below are some of my quick tips to help you combat emotional eating.

1. Stress less

Feeling stressed can wreak havoc on our bodies. It leads to an increase in the hormone cortisol, which can make you crave fatty and sugary foods that provide instant energy and pleasure. If you’re worn out, stressed, and generally feeling run down, you’re more likely to eat uncontrollably as a result of your emotions. Learning how to manage stress levels can help guide you to a healthier waistline.

Here’s how…

Try doing some exercise or gentle stretches. It’s thought that the release of chemicals called endorphins when you exercise can help to combat the negative effects of stress. If you’re at work, a peppermint or herbal tea might help you relax, and take your mind off needing a sweet treat.

Find out more about how to manage stress, including self-help tips and other therapies. 

2. Manage boredom

When boredom strikes, is the fridge your best friend? Raiding the fridge when you’re at a loose end may seem like a good idea – and who can blame us when there’s so much delicious food around? But it’s important to resist, especially if you’re watching your waistline.

Here’s how

Remove any temptation by only keeping healthy food in the fridge and at home. Rather than eating when you feel bored, do something to keep your mind occupied. This could be reading a book, going for a walk, starting a hobby, or even planning some health goals. If you’re unsure how to set goals, take a look at our step-by-step guide to setting goals and creating new habits.

3. Eat mindfully

Mindfulness is the buzzword of the minute, but for good reason. It can help you to become more present and aware of how you feel and what’s happening around you. Where you can, try to become aware of the physical and emotional cues that cause you to overeat. It could be that having a hard day at work causes you to turn to the biscuit tin for a quick sugar fix. Being mindful and recognising these cues is the first step to changing the bad habits associated with them.

It’s also important to foster a healthy relationship with the food you eat and how you eat it. To do this, try mindful eating.

Here’s how…

When you eat, limit distractions around you and focus on your food – you’ll be more aware of what you’re eating and when you’re eating it. You’ll also be more likely to register when you feel full. Doing this can help stop you overeating and allow you to manage your weight more easily.

Find out more about mindful eating with our mindful eating masterclass.

These are my top tips to help manage emotional eating – they might not work for everyone, but I hope you find them useful too. And remember, if you find yourself going off track, don’t panic. As soon as you feel able, start to build these healthy habits back into your routines again.  

Even healthy people become unwell sometimes. Health insurance can help you get prompt access to the treatment and support you need to help you get back on the road to recovery. Learn more with our useful guide to understanding health insurance.

Victoria Evans
Nutritionist and Centre Manager at Bupa UK

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