How To Stop Eating Your Feelings

When was the last time you were angry or frustrated with somebody you love?  It happens to most of us all the time. The more important question is how do you handle it?

Their is a big difference with people who communicate effectively and people who struggle with communication.  If you comfort yourself with food after a yelling match or suppress your feelings with food right away, you are probably an emotionally eater.

I’ll teach you to communicate in a non-confrontational way and avoid using food to manage

 Take a look at this example:

You prepared dinner for your husband and he comes home an hour late.  It annoys you because you worked hard to prepare it and he didn’t bother to even let you know he would be late. You’re worked up and turn to your comforts of food.

As soon as he walks through the door, you say, “I can’t believe you are so late! I made dinner for you and you couldn’t even bother to come home on time!” He immediately responds with, “I can’t believe that you are yelling at me! I have had a long day and I don’t want to hear this from you right now!” He then storms out of the room.

In this example, you, the wife, are communicating aggressively and ineffectively, perpetuating an angry and defensive response from him. You are also sitting with the stress and anger and probably are turning to an easy comfort… food.

Now consider this…How you can sit with your feelings and then communicate more effectively in a way that doesn’t cause him to become so defensive and you to get more angry?


This is how you can communicate your feelings in a positive way without turning to food.

He’s late, notice you are getting worked up. You try to call him and he doesn’t answer. Take 10 deep breaths.  Instead of going for food, consider writing him a note saying you stepped out and will be back or going upstairs and taking a hot bath.

He arrives home an hour late.  When he walks in you say, “Hi, I have to tell you when you come home late, it upsets me because I spend a long time preparing dinner and I need you to let me know when you are going to be late so I don’t sit around and wait for you.” He responds by saying “I’m sorry that I’m late honey. Next time, I will let you know when I’m running late.”

In this example, you have taken a simplistic and much more effective approach. You have calmly explained to him why you were angry and how he can avoid upsetting you in the future. Given the way you approached the situation, he understood and responded with an apology as opposed to reacting defensively and aggressively. 

To implement the approach, you just need to follow three simple steps, which can be referred to as the WIN formula:

1.     When you did this:

The first step is to identify the “when”; you must explain the timing of the situation and the facts. Instead of yelling at the person that you are upset with, you should calmly explain to him or her when it is that you became upset and the facts surrounding the situation.  This will demonstrate that you are willing to resolve the problem as opposed to merely looking for a fight.

2.  I felt this:

The second step is to express how the person’s actions made you feel. By approaching the situation in a positive and pleasant manner, as opposed to yelling at the person, he or she is more likely to listen to what you have to say rather than blocking it out.  This will surely yield a more desirable result.

3. Need you to do this: 

The third and final step is to express to the other party what you need from them in the future to ensure that this type of a situation is not replicated.  This is the preventative aspect of the formula. 

Learning how to effectively communicate can be quite easy. Applying the WIN formula will allow you to express your feelings in a more meaningful way and will undoubtedly produce better results.  Ultimately, your relationships with your friends, family members and significant others will prove to be stronger and less strained if you commit to following the WIN formula. 

The benefit of communicating is to build a healthy relationship, but the main goal is that you don’t turn to food to suppress your feelings. This tool is one of the most effective ways to communicate. Start putting it into place and feel free to reach out if you need any further support.

Want to get off the diet roller coaster, stop eating emotionally, and lose weight?  Get my Emotional Eating Toolkit.

Natalie Shay is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach specializing in emotional eating. She struggled with her own weight for 20 years. She finally learned to stop dieting and lost 75 lbs. In 2007 she became a Registered Psychotherapist to help emotional eaters stop turning to food for comfort and lose weight without dieting. She helps support her clients and guides them to meet their goals to stop dieting and start living.
Natalie can be reached here