Fitness columnist Emmet Rushe shares steps we can take towards addressing emotional eating.

Our cravings for certain types of food seem to always appear when we are at our weakest emotionally.

It may happen consciously or unconsciously.  Many health and dietary goals have been hampered by emotional eating.

There are differing types of stresses; financial, relationship, unemployment, workplace, health and even fatigue.
They can all have an effect.

When it comes to emotional eating, it isn’t as simple as saying, ‘if you want it bad enough’ or ‘all you have to do is….’ Or any other of the hundreds of memes that pop up on social media.

This mindset simply does’t work.  If it did, there wouldn’t be a problem.

With emotional eating, we have to look at what the actual triggers are that are causing the problems and take steps to address these.

The triggers will be individual to each person and everyone may have a few, but once you identify what they are, you will be able to manage them and your comfort eating.

 Stress can be a big trigger to emotional eating. Try a stress management technique such as yoga, meditation or relaxation.  Stress balls are proven to work as a sensory tool and may break the train of thought for you.

Are you Actually Hungry?
Is your hunger physical or emotional?
If you have just eaten, or have eaten a few hours ago the chances are you’re probably not really hungry. Give the craving a little time to pass, drink a large glass of water or some coffee and re-assess your ‘hunger’.

Keep a food diary.
A food diary is something that I mention frequently in my articles.  It is simply the best way to hold yourself accountable for what you put in your mouth.
Write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you’re feeling when you eat and how hungry you are. You will begin to see a pattern of when you eat and what the triggers are, then you can learn to recognize and deal with these when they arise.

The main time that the emotional eating seems to happen is in the evening. This is either when the kids go to bed and you finally have some down time, or if you don’t have children, it’s usually in the 2-3 hours before bed.
Instead of snacking when you’re not truly hungry, you need to distract yourself. Go for a walk, watch a movie, play with the Wii, listen to music, read, call a friend, go to the gym; the list is endless.

Remove all temptation.
Don’t keep supplies of comfort foods in your home if they’re hard for you to resist.
If they are not there, you can’t eat them. Throw them out, right now, and don’t say your kids/partner eats them. They will support you in your goals.
Also, don’t go food shopping when tired, hungry or emotionally stressed.

Don’t try and be perfect.
Do not aim for 100% when trying to lose weight, you WILL FAIL. You are not a saint, so don’t try and be one.
Instead, aim for 80-90%.
This will give you some leeway throughout the week to have a ‘free meal’ where you can eat what you like guilt free.


Snack on healthy foods.
Snack on fruit, chopped veg sticks, sugar free jelly.  Use diet drinks, coffee, water, sparkling water. They are a quick, simple and easy way to snack and will curb cravings.


Do not beat yourself up about setbacks with your diet.
Everyone falls off the wagon. 
Everyone makes mistakes.  
No-one is perfect.
The important thing to remember is that you have to have a healthy relationship with food first.
Once that is in place, the weight will take care of itself.

If you don’t have time to make it to the gym or can only train from home, my ever popular Drop a Dress Size Challenge restarts on May 17th.
It is a full 6 week training program that you can do from home with minimal equipment.
Click the link to find out more and read some of our success stories.