Anthony Mottley

Anthony Mottley

Strategies for managing cravings and emotional eating

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Emotional eating, though not a formal diagnosis, is all too common in today’s society. It can affect anyone at any time and has many causes, from stress to boredom. Knowing how to manage emotional eating is key to enjoying life without gaining weight or feeling guilty about overeating. Here are some strategies for managing cravings and emotional eating:

Recognising the signs of emotional eating is the first step to overcoming it.

If you’re not sure how to do this, ask yourself:

  • Have I eaten more than usual?
  • Am I eating because of stress or anxiety?
  • Is there something that feels wrong in my life right now (e.g., a relationship issue)?

Slow down and take a breath

The first step to managing cravings is to slow down and breathe.

Take a few deep breaths, focusing on your breathing. If possible, take a break from what you’re doing and focus on something else–a hobby or book can be helpful in this situation. If it’s not possible for you to take a break right away, try taking some deep breaths while continuing with what you were doing before the craving hit; this will help calm down any anxiety that may have caused the craving in the first place.

Taking time out of each day just for yourself can help reduce stress levels and improve overall health so that cravings don’t seem like such an urgent issue during those times when they do come up (which isn’t often).

Ask yourself why you’re eating

When you’re feeling hungry, ask yourself why you’re eating. Is it because of a physical need or an emotional one? If it’s the latter, try to figure out what’s bothering you.

If your cravings are due to stress or boredom and not hunger at all, then just wait until they pass before reaching for that snack. If it turns out that eating isn’t going to solve any problems for you–or even make them worse–then give yourself permission not to eat at all!

Try to change how you think about food

When you find yourself craving something, it can help to remind yourself that food is not a reward or a punishment. Food isn’t your friend or your comfort; it’s just something that keeps your body alive and healthy. You don’t have to eat when you’re happy, sad or bored–you can wait until later if you want!

You may also want to try changing the way you think about food when it comes down to eating in general. When we eat mindfully (paying attention while we chew), our bodies often tell us when we’re full before we overeat anyway!

Focus on activities that don’t involve food

When you’re feeling a craving for food, focus on activities that don’t involve food. You can even turn to healthy activities like walking or taking a nap. If you’re not sure what else to do, try some of these ideas:

  • Read a book or magazine.
  • Watch TV or movies (make sure they don’t feature any commercials for junk food).
  • Take your dog for a walk in the park–you’ll both get exercise and fresh air!

Emotional eating is a learned behaviour, so it can be unlearned with time and practice

There are many reasons why people eat emotionally: they may be bored, depressed, or anxious; they may want to comfort themselves after feeling rejected or disappointed; they may use food as an excuse not to do something else that’s more challenging (like going on a date).

Emotional eating isn’t necessarily caused by lack of willpower or weakness–but if you have trouble controlling your cravings for sweet foods like cookies and ice cream after a breakup with your boyfriend/girlfriend then maybe you should ask yourself what those cravings mean for your emotional health!


Emotional eating is a learned behaviour, so it can be unlearned with time and practice. If you notice yourself feeling hungry for no good reason and then heading straight for the fridge or pantry, try to stop yourself from doing that. Take a moment to think about why exactly you’re feeling this way; maybe there is some other activity that would help calm down those emotions? If all else fails, at least remember that food isn’t always the answer!

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