Practical Tips to Curb Emotional Eating
Do you turn to food in times of stress, boredom, as well as in times of celebration?
Do you feel like you have tried everything to curb cravings and emotional eating without
The majority of adults have eaten past their limit of fullness at some time in their lives, however turning to food as a coping mechanism for life’s stresses can quickly become a default habit that can also be destructive to physical and mental health.
Counting purely on willpower to curb emotional eating can be a challenging task if other
factors are also at play. Find out what else could be fueling overeating and use these practical tips and guidance to finally put an end to the habit.
1. Blood sugar balance
Although addressing your emotions when experiencing outbreaks of emotional eating or
bingeing is really important, it may not be all the parts of the puzzle. Do you experience
cravings that are hard to resist or find it difficult to focus on anything else? Do you find it hard to get through the day without coffee? Is 4pm synonymous with biscuits and tea?
Chances are that your blood sugar balance needs some attention.
Blood sugar levels can be imbalanced by many factors, such as skipping meals,
irregular mealtimes, stress, caffeine, sugar and alcohol (1). Blood sugar spikes and
crashes through the day can contribute towards episodes of emotional eating and
low energy levels. Aim to bring more balance into your daily routine and diet to curb
those cravings for good.
2. Mindful, distraction-free meals
In the world of distraction and limitless information that we live in, it can be quite
challenging to be fully present. How many times have you or your colleagues settled
with eating lunch whilst checking emails only to realise that your food has disappeared without even noticing it?
Eating a meal should take around 20 minutes for hunger signals to fully register satiety
levels. Being mindful and present during meal times helps promote smooth
digestion, increases absorption of nutrients and prevents overeating (2).
If mindful meals sound challenging, start with putting cutlery down in between
meals and take some deep breaths. Focus on the texture, taste and smell of food
and clear your mind from racing thoughts. Make sure you have no distractions
around you like the TV, your phone or a magazine.
3. Tuning into your true needs
Notice if food has become a go-to solution for times of celebration, reward,
emotional times or even a habit. Become the observer of your relationship to food
and whenever turning to food when not hungry, stop and ask yourself a question out
loud: “What is it that I really need?”
The answer may even surprise you as it could be something completely different, like “to talk to somebody”, “a long bath” or “acknowledgement”.
4. Watch your stress levels
Stress is one of the major drivers in overeating and emotional eating. When stress
levels are on the rise, body switches into the ‘fight or flight’ mode, which only uses
the most necessary body functions.
However, ‘fight or flight’ is only designed to last for about 5min, rather than days on
end. This increases stress hormone Cortisol levels and sends body signals that it
needs quick energy creating cravings for caffeine, sugar and simple carbohydrates
even if you have just eaten (3).
Next time missing the bus or paying bills is creating prolonged stress and anxiety,
consider the effects on your long-term health. Take a few deep breaths and come
back to the present moment for instant relief.
Complimentary foods and supplements
Certain foods and supplements may help balance blood sugar, reduce stress and anxiety or
help boost energy levels, that in turn will help decrease cravings and reduce emotional
- Chromium- when taken consistently, chromium has been proven to not only help regulate
metabolism, but also is extremely beneficial for blood sugar balance (4)
- Alpha lipoic acid (ALA)- is known to help balance blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity
just in 4 weeks (5). Available in supplement form, as well as in broccoli, spinach and sprouts.
- Cinnamon- this spice has been used for centuries for many health concerns, however has
been proven to be especially beneficial for blood sugar balance.
- Magnesium- this mineral promotes healthy sleep patterns, helps balance blood sugar and is
especially beneficial to regulate energy and stress levels.
- Rhodiola or ashwaghanda- these herbs are also called ‘adaptogens’ (6), meaning they help
respond to the environment by modulating stress and energy levels, without compromising
our wellbeing. In simple terms, it helps increase energy when needed and helps reduce
- Medicinal mushrooms- newest research starts to acknowledge many benefits of medicinal mushrooms. Also acting as “adaptogens”, some medicinal mushrooms, such as cordyceps and maitake (7), are also beneficial for blood sugar balance.
If you ready to change your relationship to food, but not sure where to start, contact Milda at [email protected] and arrange a FREE 20min consultation on the phone.
After her own journey with disordered eating and living a stressful lifestyle, trying to spin many plates at once, Milda has discovered nutritional therapy and, for the first time, has felt a sense of purpose.
As a CNM graduate, and having recently relocated to the West Country, Milda practices
nutritional therapy in Bath and Bristol, where she also offers nutritional coaching for binge
eating, emotional eating and bulimia.
She is passionate about complimentary alternative medicine and promoting healing through the resources of nature. The body is always trying to heal itself, we just need to give it tools to allow it to do so.
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(1) Pick, M. (2012) Are you tired and wired? London: Hay House
(2) https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful- eating
(3) Glenville, M (2006). Fat around the middle. London: Kyle Cathie Ltd.
(4) Anderson, R. A., Cheng, N., Bryden, N. A., Polansky, M. M., Cheng, N., Chi, J., &
Feng, J. (1997). Elevated Intakes of Supplemental Chromium Improve Glucose and
Insulin Variables in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes, 46(11), 1786-1791.
(5) Kamenova, P. (2006). Improvement of insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2
diabetes mellitus after oral administration of alpha-lipoic acid. Hormones, 5(4), 251-
(6) https://www.indigo-herbs.co.uk/blog/4- incredible-benefits- of-adaptogens
(7) https://www.indigo-herbs.co.uk/natural- health-guide/benefits/maitake- mushroom