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What do you do when you're upset...instead of eating?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I am emotional eater. I have noticed that when I am upset, frustrated, or otherwise emotionally uncomfortable food provides comfort and calms me. I am really trying to break this unhealthy habit. Last night SO and I got into a fight and even though I was not hungry it took all my fortitude to not run into the kitchen and eat something. What are some of the things that you guys do when you are upset to avoid emotional eating?

post #2 of 19

Hi Mama,

I'm an emotional eater, too.  Here's what I try- going for a walk... to clear my head, to get out of the  house, etc.  I also try to talk to whoever is bothering me instead of eating what I want to say.  That takes more guts than  I have sometimes, but the result is usually really worth it.


I would like to eat less when I am stressed, but I am really trying to just eat healthier when I'm stressed sometimes.  Instead of a bag of chips, I'm trying to eat hummus and carrots, or an apple, or dark chocolate. 


It's rough.  Maybe some other mamas will have some great ideas for us.


post #3 of 19

My gut reaction is also to eat, long history of emotional eating here. Over the last 3 years I've worked really hard to be mindful of this, and turn to exercise instead of food. Vigorous exercise changes my internal environment, triggers endorphins, releases pent up anxiety, and turns all that emotional energy into physical energy. I always feel better after a workout. I never feel better after a 'binge'. I'm not perfect, and sometimes still end up with a chunk of chocolate rather than a barbell in my hands, but I'm doing better every day, and that's the best anyone can do.

post #4 of 19

Going for a run really helps me when I need some time away from life. 

post #5 of 19

I always feel better after a workout, but when I am upset it is harder for me to find the motivation to get started.  Getting out in the sunshine and fresh air really helps, even if I am just out playing with the kids.


Honestly though? When I am stressed,  I download and read zombie novels on my kindle.  I get a little instant gratification by being able to browse different titles and download the one I want instantly. They are trashy but fun and help me work out fear and negative emotions through an obviously fantastic scenario.  Nothing in my life is ever going to be as bad as a zombie apocalypse....Also, they are usually pretty gory and full of unpleasant images that do not tend to stimulate the appetite.

Edited by Aubergine68 - 3/14/11 at 9:49pm
post #6 of 19

I love getting free books on my Kindle!!!

I also love to read on it while I'm nursing my LO to sleep at night.  :-)


post #7 of 19

I have found myself doing some emotional eating lately. Not something I've really ever done. But I'd never parented a toddler and preschooler before!!!  (They really know how to push those buttons!)    So I NEED something to turn to when I feel out of sorts.  Knitting helps me keep my fingers busy and calms my brain and keeps me from eating out of boredom or stress.

post #8 of 19

I echo those who suggested exercise...maybe taking a walk, if you can get away, or doing some relaxing stretches or something else that feels gentle and healing.


Writing in a journal.


If you can enter your kitchen and still resist the temptation, maybe you can replace the food ritual with an herbal tea ritual. 

post #9 of 19

I didn't realize until recently that I am an emotional eater.  If I'm upset, I reach for "foods" and "junk" food.  If I'm depressed, I don't eat at all.  If I'm happy, I want to good foods.  Instead of eating junk foods when I'm upset, I'm trying to make myself walk.  If I'm really stressed, I try to make myself reach for my workout videos.  I've been really struggling with this lately and need to get my rear back into gear.

post #10 of 19

I just finished reading The Beck Diet Solution: How To Think Like A Thin Person. She touched on a lot of my issues and what to do about them. For emotional eating she said to picture how you will feel when you're done. You will be upset with yourself. You probably won't feel well because of what you ate. You'll beat yourself up and tell yourself you're not worth eating healthy.


She also said that "naturally thin " people never think of eating first when they are upset. I did a little survey on my facebook page and sure enough everyone one of my thin friends said clean, run, read, sleep, etc and those who were heavy or had been heavy said eat.


That really opened my eyes!


I try to treat myself with tea or a pretty mug or by investing in food I can have on my plan. So I know that's still food a little bit but I finally had to realize I'm worth spending $15 on the bottle of flavored stevia so I can use it whenever I want to;). Stuff like that has made a big difference!


I knit too;)

post #11 of 19
Originally Posted by PJsmomma View Post

I just finished reading The Beck Diet Solution: How To Think Like A Thin Person. She touched on a lot of my issues and what to do about them. For emotional eating she said to picture how you will feel when you're done. You will be upset with yourself. You probably won't feel well because of what you ate. You'll beat yourself up and tell yourself you're not worth eating healthy.



I wish I felt this way a lot sooner after it happens.  I don't usually beat myself up about it until a lot later. (like several hours or even the next day)


post #12 of 19

I put up a punching bag.  It helps.  I also just cry when upset.  I have cried a lot lately due to a loss of someone who meant the world to me.  I got the punching bag before during a time when they were sick as a healthy way to cope when I didn't have time to do a gym and outside was way too cold.  

post #13 of 19

love.gif I clean!!! and everything gets sparkly cause I take my frustration out on whatever mess is most readily available...of course that doesn't mean that when I am done cleaning I won't have a little snack, but I am not into emotional eating anyway, that is just to refuel.

post #14 of 19

When I'm mad at DH, I tend to clean too. It's usually when our fight makes me feel like I'm not good enough though. I don't clean to make amends, but I clean in a "I'm so much better than you" way. lol.gif


I also have a book that I read for when I'm mad. If I'm reading it, you know I'm upset. Sometimes I stare angrily at the words and flip pages once I finish staring at the words, then go back when it turns out that I wasn't actually paying attention to what I was reading. I "read" the book when I'm the sulking kind of upset, and I clean when I'm fuming mad. Sometimes I'll read the book though if I'm fuming mad and DH is home(I don't want to make him think that everything is OKlol.gif)


Sometimes I cry too, but usually just when pregnant or menstruating, or ovulating lol.gif and I usually cry and read or cry and clean at the same time.


and I'm WAY overweight. I think I used to be an emotional eater, and maybe I still am, but limiting the things I have in the house makes a difference for me. I don't keep chips or candies in the house, but I'll have things like loose popcorn available when I feel like snacking. It helps that I have to put the extra effort into making it too. 



ETA: cleaning is supposed to be my job, but with a crazy toddler(yep, blame the toddler!), that hardly gets done. So, cleaning makes me feel better (probably because I'm focusing on cleaning) but it also makes DH happy(unintended, or unconciously intended consequence) If I had a large garden, I could probably spend time out there, but my garden is just a balcony size garden. Spending hours doing one thing usually works for me, especially if it's not something I associate with eating(like, you can eat and read a book, or eat and watch a movie, or eat and read stuff online, but you're not going to eat and clean the house, or eat and reorganize the cabinets)


Edited by Amatullah0 - 5/11/11 at 7:12pm
post #15 of 19

Get some good tea! I love something that slows me down and helps me relax. A really nice cup of something hot is fantastic!


My favorite is a Lavendar Earl Grey.


Or get yourself some great lavender essential oil or something.


Anything you enjoy. Pamper yourself.


There are five senses and taste is only one of them. Indulge one of the others :)

post #16 of 19

I treat myself to really junky magazine...that's my guilty pleasure...I go to the drugstore and buy something truly trashy...and maybe even a diet soda (I rarely drink these) and if I really feel the need for something sweet or a treat a small contained indulgence (for example a single ice cream sandwich or one small bag of M&M's) or a small snack size bag of chips and that usually does the trick. 

post #17 of 19

Oh, I need all the tips I can get - the thing that sets me off is having my mom come visit.  She's always "on edge" because I know she wants to feel like she can just relax and be herself, but she won't because my husband's around and despite mocking his language-sensitive ways she doesn't actually want to piss him off, so she ends up being a little testy and occasionally takes it out on our daughter because she has minor issues with our parenting... argh.  Anyway, her visits are like the opposite of a spa weekend for me and I'm fine with my eating while she's here - that's not a problem - but after she goes, I crave sugar sooooo badly.  Also, when I'm sick (which I am now) I just want to drink juice and eat toast and other starchy stuff that I don't even want at other times and I can't stand the thought of my usual green veg + meat diet... but I think that's different.  But I also kinda want the sugar, but it's easier to just say no because I know it causes more inflammation and I can definitely do with less of that right now.


Anyway.  Cleaning, not gonna do it for me.  Someone mentioned that they clean when they're mad at their spouse - my DH does that to me and I HATE it.  Really.  I would rather he went to the bar and got drunk.  Because it's my job... and no, I don't love it, but it's really insulting when we have an argument and he just goes and gets the broom and starts sweeping the floor.  Especially if I've already done it.  Actually, no, it's worse if I haven't, because it is TOTALLY saying "I'm a better person than you and look, I'm doing your job which you totally failed at and you suck."  And also, my house usually NEEDS cleaning after my mom's been here.


The problem with exercise is that you have to have the time to do it - and I do exercise a lot but I have narrow windows in which to do it, whereas sugar can slip in anywhere.


I like the trashy magazine idea, I'll try that next time.  And zombie novels on the Kindle - well, my personal trash is bad fantasy & sci fi (especially Star Trek, nothing like Captain Picard to boost a mood).  But, again - I have a 5-year-old, a dog, a household to manage... oh, wait, somehow I usually manage to go through 3 books a week or so anyway... 


Maybe I should try clothes shopping?  At least I can take the child, although that's its own kind of stress right there.  Maybe I should schedule a mini spa treatment for after Mom departs?  Or an evening of drunken debauchery with friends? (aka, laugh about stupid stuff our kids/partners said, celebrity gossip)... I dunno...

post #18 of 19
I used to clean. Our dorm room was never cleaner than after one of my roommates ticked me off! Sadly, in the past few years, I've started eating instead. Not sure when it happened... I need to get back into cleaning the counters instead of cleaning out the cookie jar!
post #19 of 19

If I 'need' carbs/a sweet treat, I try to get the richest chocolate I can find (good quality) and indulge. It's a lot easier to eat just a little when it's primo, vs scarfing a Hershey bar or two, lol.


Ongoing carb cravings mean your brain needs a seratonin boost. Try adding a B complex (50 mg). I find it helps my mood a lot.


I think there are other ways to boost seratonin, but I forget what they are right now. Nursing, so lots of stuff off limits.


You might also see if a relaxant/destressing herbal treatment helps. Skullcap is one herbal option, or Passion Flower. Works well for me.

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