How To Manage Emotional Eating When You're Feeling Down


Like any emotion, we’ve all experienced sad feelings. For some, feelings of sadness may come and go briefly, while for others, they may be persistent and overwhelming due to unexpected changes in your life. While it’s absolutely normal to feel sad at times, for emotional eaters, this may trigger uncontrollable binges and overeating. Learning how to deal with your sad feelings is crucial for managing emotional eating.

How Can You Deal with Sad Feelings?

Sad feelings don't have to trigger out-of-control eating. To manage emotional eating, we need to deal with our sad feelings in a healthy way.

Here are some ways to experience normal sadness so that it doesn’t lead to emotional eating:

1.   Allow yourself to be sad

Denying your feelings and trying to bury them is what drives you to emotionally eat in the first place. Instead, allow yourself to be sad (or experience whatever emotion you are feeling). Cry if you feel like it. Something that works for me is repeating to myself, “It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to feel this way” repeatedly. This allows me to sit with my feelings and accept them instead of pushing them away.

2.   Take time to think about your feelings and writing them down

Why are you feeling sad? Have you experienced a loss or painful experience? Did someone hurt you through their actions or words? Are there other words to describe what you are feeling? Often feeling sad could be better expressed with specific words such as feeling frustrated, embarrassed, lonely or disappointed. Exploring your feelings, especially in writing, can help you process the sadness and help you feel better.

3.   Get support

Call a close friend or family member – someone you trust. Expressing your feelings to others can help you process them. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know, consider speaking with a therapist. Not only will they listen, but they can help you fully understand and process your feelings while giving you tools to manage your emotions on your own.

4.   Practice Self-Care

Be sure to be kind to yourself. Be gentle and loving with your thoughts and actions. Care for yourself with anything that feels good – such as a hot bath, taking a nap, or going for a walk. Self-care could also be letting yourself laugh by watching a funny movie or socializing with friends. Even when you’re feeling sad, be sure to make time for yourself and take care of yourself however you see fit – because you deserve it!

While sadness is a feeling we all try to avoid, it’s inevitable that we will feel it now and then. The silver lining is that feeling sad can signal the need for a change in your life such as connecting more with others, healing a relationship, or dealing with a past trauma. This can be stressful and a difficult journey, but it is absolutely necessary for growth. If you're sad because you need to change something in your life, think about the steps you can take to make your life more enjoyable!

When we accept and allow ourselves to feel sad and process these feelings, we won’t be triggered to emotionally eat. When we deal with our feelings in a healthy way, we can enjoy a normal relationship with food – free from emotional eating.


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