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By identifying what triggers our eating, we can substitute more appropriate techniques to manage our emotional problems and take food and weight gain out of the equation.

Situations and emotions that trigger us to eat fall into five main categories:
Social: Eating when around other people. For example, excessive eating can result from being encouraged by others to eat; eating to fit in; arguing; or feelings of inadequacy around other people.
Emotional: Eating in response to boredom, stress, fatigue, tension, depression, anger, anxiety or loneliness as a way to “fill the void.”
Situational: Eating because the opportunity is there. For example, at a restaurant, seeing an advertisement for a particular food, passing by a bakery. Eating may also be associated with certain activities such as watching TV, going to the movies or a sporting event, etc.
Thoughts: Eating as a result of negative self-worth or making excuses for eating. For example, scolding oneself for looks or a lack of will power.
Physiological: Eating in response to physical cues. For example, increased hunger due to skipping meals or eating to cure headaches or other pain.

To identify what triggers excessive eating in you, keep a food diary that records what and when you eat as well as what stressors, thoughts, or emotions you identify as you eat. You should begin to identify patterns to your excessive eating fairly quickly.

How Do I Break Myself of the Habit?

Identifying eating triggers is the first step; however, this alone is not sufficient to alter eating behavior. Usually, by the time you have identified a pattern, eating in response to emotions or certain situations has become a pattern. Now you have to break the habit.
Developing alternatives to eating is the second step. When you start to reach for food in response to a trigger, try one of the following activities instead:
• Watch television
• Read a good book or magazine or listen to music
• Go for a walk or jog
• Take a bubble bath
• Do deep breathing exercises
• Play cards or a board game
• Talk to a friend
• Do housework, laundry or yard work
• Wash the car
• Write a letter
• Or do any other pleasurable or necessary activity until the urge to eat passes

Sometimes simply distracting yourself from eating and developing alternative habits is not enough to manage the emotional distress that leads to excessive eating. To more effectively cope with emotional stress, try relaxation exercises, meditation, counseling or talking it over with your Health Coach!

These techniques address the underlying emotional problems and help resolve the original problem as well as teach you to cope in more effective and healthier ways. For more information on these techniques, contact your doctor.
As you learn to incorporate more appropriate coping strategies and to curb excessive eating, remember to reward yourself for a job well done. We tend to repeat behaviors that have been reinforced, so reward yourself when you meet your nutrition management goals. Buy that blouse, take that vacation, or get that massage to reward yourself to increase the likelihood that you will maintain your new healthy habits.

Re-printed from the Meltdown Challenge.  If you have interest in learning more about the Challenge, message me privately and we can chat!





    1. Hey there, Debbie. First of all, nice to hear from you, for sure. I’m thrilled to be able to share information with you on this topic. I’m totally available for a continuing dialogue because it’s a way to shed light on the things that keep us from getting what we want, in this case better health, for sure, and then going forward, acquiring a sense of control that serves our goals and aspirations.

      What we say about ourselves after the words “I am” is very important! 🙂 We always want to be aware that we can use ’empowering’ language that will help to shift our frame of mind, especially when there is a challenge to be confronted.

      Sugar and anything that contains sugar can be very addictive. It’s really the ‘carbohydrate’ macro-nutrient that once out of balance can drive us to eat more & more. When we look at this topic on its face, it sometimes feels like we are ‘weak’ or we have no ‘will power’. Well, those are dis-empowering terms and I never use them to coach a client who is already down. We focus on our choices ( and ask ourselves this incredibly revealing question: What do I want now or what do I want most? If you are able to give this question some time to sink in….ya’ know…..let it percolate and watch what happens! You will find that what emerges truly does turn out to be ‘what you want’ and the reasons that accompany the ‘what’ will lead you to the ‘why’ and once you identify that, Debbie, you will be unstoppable.

      I would love to keep in touch. We are now FB friends. PM me there anytime and we’ll move down this path together! Thrilled you are engaged!

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