Skip links

Emotional Eating and Weight Loss: Strategies to Curb Cravings


Emotional eating is a common phenomenon where people turn to food in response to their emotions, such as stress, sadness, boredom, or anxiety. This behavior can sabotage weight loss efforts, as it often leads to overeating and the consumption of unhealthy foods. In this blog post, we’ll explore the relationship between emotional eating and weight gain, as well as provide evidence-based strategies to help you curb those cravings.

Understanding Emotional Eating:

Emotional eating is driven by emotions rather than physical hunger. When you’re upset or stressed, your brain may release hormones that trigger cravings for high-calorie, comfort foods. This temporary relief is often followed by guilt and further emotional distress, creating a vicious cycle.

The Connection Between Emotional Eating and Weight Gain:

Multiple studies have linked emotional eating to weight gain and obesity. One such study published in the journal Obesity found that individuals who engaged in emotional eating had a higher body mass index (BMI) and were more likely to gain weight over time compared to those who didn’t use food to cope with emotions.

Strategies to Curb Emotional Eating:

  1. Mindful Eating: Practice mindful eating by paying full attention to your food, savoring each bite, and eating without distractions. This can help you become more aware of your body’s hunger and fullness cues, making it easier to distinguish between emotional hunger and physical hunger.
  2. Emotion Awareness: Recognize and acknowledge your emotions without judgment. Journaling or talking to a therapist can be helpful in identifying emotional triggers for overeating.
  3. Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Replace emotional eating with healthier coping mechanisms. Engage in activities like exercise, meditation, deep breathing, or hobbies that can help alleviate stress and emotional distress.
  4. Plan Balanced Meals and Snacks: Ensure your regular meals and snacks are balanced with a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce the likelihood of cravings.
  5. Keep Tempting Foods Out of Reach: Avoid keeping trigger foods within easy access. Stock your pantry and fridge with nutritious options and remove or minimize the presence of unhealthy snacks.
  6. Social Support: Share your weight loss journey with friends, family, or support groups. Having a support system can provide encouragement and accountability when dealing with emotional eating.
  7. Seek Professional Help: If emotional eating is persistent and significantly affecting your weight loss efforts, consider seeking the guidance of a registered dietitian or therapist who specializes in emotional eating and behavior change.


Emotional eating is a challenge that many individuals face on their weight loss journeys. However, with awareness and the implementation of strategies like mindful eating, emotion awareness, and healthier coping mechanisms, you can break the cycle of emotional eating and make significant progress toward your weight loss goals. Remember that it’s okay to seek professional help when needed, as overcoming emotional eating is an essential step towards achieving long-term weight loss success.


  1. Macht, M. (2008). How emotions affect eating: A five-way model. Appetite, 50(1), 1-11.
  2. Konttinen, H., Mannisto, S., Sarlio-Lahteenkorva, S., Silventoinen, K., & Haukkala, A. (2010). Emotional eating, depressive symptoms, and self-reported food consumption. A population-based study. Appetite, 54(3), 473-479.
  3. Van Strien, T., Herman, C. P., & Verheijden, M. W. (2012). Eating style, overeating, and overweight in a representative Dutch sample. Does external eating play a role? Appetite, 59(2), 782-787.
  4. Dallman, M. F., Pecoraro, N., Akana, S. F., La Fleur, S. E., Gomez, F., Houshyar, H., … & Manalo, S. (2003). Chronic stress and obesity: a new view of “comfort food”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(20), 11696-11701.
This website uses cookies to improve your web experience.
Call Now Button