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Real Solutions For Emotional Eaters

November 14, 20235 min read

Let’s consider the typical cycle of emotional eating:

-Feel stressed from a tough day at work or maybe a day where you take care of everyone but yourself

-Overeat because you forgot to eat earlier

-Bash yourself for eating a ton of food.

-Feel more stressed, anxious, upset, etc.

-Vow to “do better” or get back on the horse

-Decide to go Paleo or keto and crush yourself in the gym

-You ate a brownie, now you feel crappy again

-Overeat for dinner

Repeat the cycle.

Here are a few solutions to help you start to conquer this cycle and hopefully break the chain!

Some folks call this exercise,”Break The Chain”. Sometimes it’s called “Notice and Name”. Sometimes we’ve called it keeping a “Food and Feelings” Journal. Either way, here’s how it works.Emphasis on “works” because it does work!

Most times when we go to food for support, and that’s what’s happening when we shove a mountain’s worth of food into our mouth without thinking, we’re doing just that, not thinking. We aren’t taking time to notice why we feel like we need to eat 16 cookies right now or someone will suffer.

Food journals in general serve several purposes but the most important of which is not to be held accountable for what you eat, it’s to become more aware or mindful. Most people grossly underestimate how much food they are eating when they take into account sauces, drinks, and snacking throughout the day. They also grossly overestimate how much protein they are bringing in on a given day. Especially if they are performing regular strength work.

With a food and feelings journal, we take time to notice, observe, and then record what happened leading up to food cravings,overeating,or emotional eating. Sometimes this may involve how you felt within a few hours after a meal as well.

Why? Because the feelings and cravings aren’t there for no reason.You aren’t broken. There’s some reason that they are there and if we don’t take time to notice them and consider them, most times they keep getting the best of us.

To help you get started, here’s a super simple version of a Food and Feelings Journal for you to make a copy of and use for yourself.

Here’s how Precision Nutrition recommends to use it:

1. Start with any recent food or eating-related episode that troubled you. (For instance, eating too much, eating foods you didn’t want, feeling out of control, etc.).

2. Write down all the stuff that was happening around you just before that episode happened.

For instance:

Where were you?

What were you doing?

What were you thinking?

What were you feeling?

Who was with you?

3. Now see if you can go back even further.

Maybe a few hours. Once again:

Where were you?

What were you doing?

What were you thinking?

What were you feeling?

Who was with you?

Try to capture as much detail as possible.

4. Now look at your data. Are there any patterns?

If you don’t see any connections right away, no worries.

Try this exercise a few times, and then start looking for links between what was happening in the days or hours before you had a serious food craving or emotional eating episode.

5. If and when you find patterns, be curious about them.

Don’t worry about fixing them right away. Just notice them.


“Every time I have a stressful day at work, I go out to eat for dinner because I don’t feel like cooking.”


“Maybe I should have prepped food for days like this ahead of time. Something easy and quick. Maybe a crockpot meal or something I can take from the fridge and throw into the oven. Or I could even call my spouse before I get home and they could put the food in the oven for me so when I get home the house will smell awesome and I won’t be tempted to order out pizza!”


“You know, I actually feel fine most of the month, but the week before my period hits — watch out.”


“I’ll mark my calendar for my PMS days on the calendar so I know about them in advance. Maybe I’ll consider a magnesium supplement as well.Oh, and I remember that one blog where Coach Joe reviewed some research that showed that women who ate a 1 small piece of dark chocolate per day during PMS were less likely to binge or reach for other unproductive foods later.”


“It’s been a long, stressful week at work. Give me that wine before I stab someone.”


“I’m going to get my workout in the morning so I don’t miss it on Fridays!”

Maybe your problems will be different. Maybe you’ll struggle to find realistic solutions for them.

The important thing is: Now you’re aware of what’s happening.

Here’s that Food and Feelings Journal to download again.


Make yourself accountable to a person… who really cares.

Here at BFP, we care deeply for our #BFPFamily members

Social support — whether that’s a friend, a workout partner, your spouse, your kid, your dog, a co-worker who walks with you at lunch, or a group you train with here at BFP, whatever — is crucial.


Emotional eating is a common symptom of stress and can derail your goals. Work for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and take time away from stressful aspects of your life each day.Focus on sleep first. I cannot overstress the importance of adequate sleep!

Hopefully this article resonated with you. Hopefully the solutions will help. Hopefully, you’ll consider BFP for some accountability and social support. If you’d like to try it out for 28 days and see if it’s a good fit, check out our 28 Day Jumpstart Program.


Coach Joe Rouse

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Breakaway Fitness & Performance

Breakaway Fitness & Performance focuses on strength training, weight loss, and a healthy lifestyle in their blogs.

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