Do This Before Attacking the Fridge

5 practices to break the cycle of emotional eating

Are you someone that barely gets home and heads straight towards the kitchen to grab a bite to eat?

Do you feel that food relaxes you and serves as a comfort for your stressful day?

One of the traits of emotional eating is to use food as a way of numbing oneself or one’s feelings. While I always stress that food is an important emotional component in your life that must be preserved and celebrated, emotional eating can be a problem when food becomes your only source of comfort.

In addition to causing possible damage to your health, the major problem of this behavior is the avoidance of emotions. Trying to ignore or avoid our feelings is like holding a ball underwater: it will come to the surface sooner or later with greater intensity.

This leads us to a vicious cycle of emotional eating. You eat to feel better, but you end up feeling worse about yourself.

While avoiding some feelings can temporarily make you feel better, it is impossible to break the cycle of emotional eating until you learn how to deal with them. Dealing means recognizing and recycling such feelings, a skill that, like many others, can be developed and practiced.

So, to successfully master your emotional hunger, the first step is to start feeling your feelings. How do you go about this?

Man holding up a hand to represent the number five.

Here are five ways to get started right now.

1. Be present

It is difficult to pay attention to your own feelings if you are never truly paying attention to the present moment. Taking a few minutes a day for yourself is a good first step.

Ask yourself how you are feeling. Is there any discomfort with what you feel at that moment? If you can be specific about what is bothering you, you can handle it better.

2. Take a deep breath

Focusing on your breathing is a great way to slow down and return to the present moment, especially if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

If you take a few minutes a day to focus on your breathing, you can better pinpoint when your emotions are controlling you — not the other way around.

3. Note physical sensations of your feelings

The next step is to understand how you feel — physically — about your emotions. Intense feelings can include sweating, chest tightness, nausea, a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, a racing heart, or muscle tension.

As we become aware of these physical sensations, we can observe them and use them as alerts to intense feelings that may be suppressed. If you suffer from emotional hunger, this physical recognition can help you become more aware of your emotions and then deal with your feelings in a healthy way rather than dealing with it through food.

4. Write about it

Writing is a very powerful practice for connecting with yourself. By writing about your feelings you may find yourself wondering why you are feeling that way. As a result, that emotion loses its strength.

Person holding a piece of paper that says, phone a friend

There are numerous benefits of keeping a journal, but if the idea seems strange to you, verbalizing your feelings works the same way! Find someone with whom you can talk about your emotions, be it a friend, family member, therapist or support group.

5. Be mindful with your eating

This is one of the biggest challenges in the modern world. If you remember to slow down and breathe throughout the day, you can try to do the same thing when you sit down to eat.

Learn how to feed your body slowly, attentively and in a relaxed state. If you can do that, you will learn to nourish yourself without excess. Start by stopping for a minute before eating — and just breathe. If you are feeling worried or anxious, tell yourself that you can handle it after eating. In 15 or 20 minutes you can eat carefully and without the feeling of urgency.

Pay attention to the smell, taste, and texture of your food. The end result will be a sense of satisfaction and physical fullness without having to overeat for it.

A juicy hamburger with bacon and avocado and fries on a plate

Have you been excited to try any of these ideas?

If you are ready to break free from emotional hunger, give them a try!

By practicing these steps, you’ll be able to deal with your negative emotions without eating them.


I am a Brazilian girl (living in Sao Paulo with my fiancé — and another 20 million people). I love coffee, books, and good food. I also really enjoy studying and learning new things that allow me to further develop myself both professionally and personally. I have a degree in Food Science and hold a Ph.D. in Agri-food Marketing. In addition, I am a Certified Nutrition Coach and an enthusiastic Nutrition student.__

There is a power that comes alive when women free themselves from the food prison in which they have learned to live, when they realize that they are capable and deserving of feeling fantastic in their own bodies, and that confidence is a state of mind — not a body lotion which you get the right to use when you reach a weight-loss goal.

My work is dedicated to nurturing, celebrating and sharing this message.