How To Stop Obsessing About Food

As I was growing up, I was always obsessed with trying to lose weight.

I was a chubby child and I tried every diet on the market, but I could never stop my brain from thinking about food.  

I wanted to be free, and yet, after years of dieting, I was up 70 lbs. How was this possible? It was my brain that couldn’t get out of the diet mentality. So I decided to look deeper. I realized that I wanted to nourish myself with nourishing food and lose the weight. But more importantly, stop my mind from dieting. 

So here are the steps I took to lose over 70 lbs. (and that many of my clients have taken too!),  to break free from the dieting frame of mind, and start nourish my body. 

Here are the ways to help you stop dieting and obsessing about food.


I have heard time and time again the plan to start a new diet on Monday morning and that this time it will be different. 


 So how can you make this Monday different?


Here is the key…. When we you start a health plan, I want you want to think of it as a lifestyle change as opposed to a diet (and not just convince yourself it’s a lifestyle plan). This is because dieting fails 95% of the time . [1]. But how do we get your brain to go along with our plan in order to have a 95 % success rate? We need to change the way we look at food.   


Here is the step-by-step approach to stop your mind from dieiting and emotionally eating.

Step 1

Acknowledge when you are thinking about food—say out loud (if you can), “I’m thinking about food and what ‘I should not eat." Don’t try to distract yourself, or you’ll just make your mind race even more. This step will help you realize how much you’re actually thinking about food.

Step 2

Take 5 deep breaths (and I mean deep full tummy breaths) and see if you can feel any emotion in your body. Put your hands on your stomach and take a breath through your nose. Start off inhaling for a count of three and then exhale for a count of three. You can work your counting breath up to 7 seconds. This will slow your mind and your heartbeat. It will also help you become more grounded.

Step 3

Now that you’ve slowed down a bit, you can start getting in touch with what is really driving you to eat.  Try to write out what you’re feeling, i.e. sad, happy, scared, bored, frustrated. You can pick one emotion to try to start noticing and build on that.  In order to stop the thought cycle, you need to visit the underlying feeling.

So start identifying which emotion is driving you to want food. Even though this process sounds easy, it can be harder to recognize than you think, especially if you’ve spent years pushing these emotions down.

This is why the breathing is so important, it helps you get in tune with your body.

Step 4

It’s time to release some of these emotions. 

This is important to break the cycle of holding on to the emotion, turning to food to soothe yourself, and beating yourself up for repeating this pattern.  

On a subconscious level, we perform this pattern as a way to distract ourselves from what’s going on underneath the distraction.

 Start by calling a friend and expressing how you feel or journal out your feelings and say it out loud. You can also work with a therapist who specializes in emotional eating to help you start learning to release these emotions.

Step 5

Now that you’ve figured out which emotions cause you to want food and you’ve released them, you can start learning new soothing techniques.  Try to build your “tool box” with new soothing techniques.

If you’re struggling, a great book my clients work with is 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food by Susan Albers.


With all the energy you put into dieting and the vicious mind cycle, you can spend that energy changing your frame of mind and finally being free from your dieting brain.


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