The Crossroads of Emotional Eating

Amanda Peterson, RDN, LD | Molly Mills, RDN, LD
July 15, 2020
A crossroads sign labeled "this way" and "the other way"

Emotional eating is often a response to stress or a negative event in our lives. And this has been common for many people throughout the challenging year of 2020. It’s no wonder that when we eat foods that make us feel good, we find ourselves going back for more. Eating a pint of ice cream after a breakup or a loss of a family member isn’t terrible, but what do we do when we crave that same ice cream day after day? What are we to do when we cannot say no to the temptation? These instances often make us feel as if we are at a crossroads and deciding which road to take can be very stressful. Combating emotional eating and cravings isn’t a quick fix, but with practice and a positive mindset, these habits can be changed to ensure you are getting on the right road for your long-term health!

  1. Understand that emotional eating is a temporarily relief from a problem, not a solution. Eating foods high in fat, salt or sugar may provide a quick “reward” to our brain, but can also lead to guilt and actually make you feel worse because you aren’t addressing the underlying problem.
  2. Find support. Support can be in the form of friends, family, co-workers, weight loss surgery support group, or MUSC’s Behavioral Medicine Clinic. By surrounding yourself with positive people who support you, you will have people to turn to when there is an evitable “bump in the road”.
  3. Identify trigger foods and remove the temptation. Simply put, you can’t eat food that isn’t there. Do whatever you think is necessary - don’t buy your favorite brand of ice cream, hide your credit cards so you don’t aimlessly use them, or clear your pantry of the foods that make you feel out of control.
  4. Channel the feelings that you are experiencing into something else. Read a book, take a bubble bath, join a yoga class, go for a run, walk your dog, go to the park with your kids - these are all great ways to change how you’re feeling into something positive. Not only will it make you feel better, it’ll keep you busy so you won’t have to think about what’s on your mind

About the Author

Amanda Peterson, RDN, LD | Molly Mills, RDN, LD
Amanda and Molly are the MUSC Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Program Registered Dietitians. With 15+ years of experience combined, they facilitate behavior change through nutrition counseling for weight loss and maintenance with children through adults.
Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery

Keywords: Bariatric, Diet, Healthy Eating, Weight Management, Weight Loss, Psychiatry