Everyone has done some type of emotional eating including myself. I want to give everyone doing my Bootcamp in Medford some tips to help you get through stressful times without relying on food to help you.

Emotional eating is a coping mechanism for dealing with negative emotions. Instead of facing the causes of stress, anger, sadness or anxiety directly, you soothe or comfort yourself with food. But after the initial pleasure from eating goes away, the emotions that triggered the craving still remain.

This becomes a circle that gets you nowhere. You get upset at work say, you buy cookies and you feel great for the moment. The stress went away and you feel motivated and happy. This is because carbohydrates and sugary snack foods can help to elevate serotonin and dopamine – two neurotransmitters (brain hormones) that can help us feel better. Unfortunately this is only temporary and will not last long. You WILL come back to feeling the way you felt before reaching for food. Its literally a circle that keep going and going until you put an end to it. This is difficult as I know because this has happened to me but, you can stop this cycle.


1- Ask Yourself Questions– 3 questions to ask yourself before turning to food to feel better are the following:

  1. Will 2 minutes of joy from eating help me in the long run?
  2. Will eating junk make me feel better than being lean, healthy and happy?
  3. Is there anything else I can do instead of reaching for “candy” to help my mood?


2- Distract Yourself – Distracting yourself helps a lot. Part of the reason to ask yourself the three questions above is to also distract yourself. Try to “not eat” for 10-15 minutes. Research shows that if you wait 10-15 minutes before you reach for junk food, the cravings will go away. Do anything you can to delay binging for at least ten minutes and then ask yourself the same questions as you did in tip # 1.


3- Listen To Music – Music can act as therapy and help you relax and get your mind off of things. Listen to a couple of your favorite songs that tend to get you in a good mood. By the time you finish listening, the cravings should be gone.


4- Exercise for 5 minutes– This might be hard if you are at work but if you can, try to do jumping jacks, push-ups, run in place, take a walk or go running. This will distract you, reduce your cravings, reduce your stress and burn extra calories. Instead of eating 1000 calories of junk food to make yourself feel better, you can burn extra calories and be that much closer to reaching your goals.


5- Always keep a healthy snack with you– Bring a snack with you at all times just in case you get in a mood that makes you want to eat “junk”. A good example could be an apple and peanut butter. This is a very healthy snack and the peanut butter will satisfy you as if you ate, say candy.  (make sure you use natural peanut butter and do NOT eat the entire jar as someone “cough, cough” might have in the past.)


Give these tips a try next time you get stressed or in a bad or sad mood instead of reaching for food to help you feel better. Food might help in the short term but if you keep relying on food you will be doing the same thing months down the road only this time with 20-30 extra pounds of fat on you.


Written By: Dean Rafferty    7/31/2012