Emotional Eating: How To Take Control + What You Can Do to Stop Stress Eating

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If your routine feels kind of like wake up, walk over to the fridge, take on your day, and make multiple trips back and forth to the fridge, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. Emotional eating is an all-too-common transformation killer that sometimes feels impossible to deal with.

Due to the general sense of stress that’s happening, it’s not surprise that now more than ever, emotional eating is an important topic. BUT, it can be an issue beyond what’s currently happening in the world: Whether it’s drama in your marriage, the loss of a loved one, or just good old stress at work, the inability to deal with our emotions in a healthy way can lead us to blind binge on foods we know are not on plan! Please don’t feel you are alone…Chris and I have both struggled with emotional eating our own lives as well.

Best Ways to Control Emotional Eating + What to Do to Stop Stress Eating

Through the years of working with people (and being one of them!) that “eat their emotions”, we’ve found/created 4 helpful ways to combat urges to?emotionally eat, and stay?on track. Let’s break it down:

  • Track your foods. If you’re tracking your food intake day in and day out, regardless of whether you’re feeling like you’re on the verge of a binge or not, it can keep you on the right path. Seeing how well you’ve been eating and realizing what a damage eating that entire bag of potato chips would be to your goals is an amazing motivator to put down the crap and get your booty to the gym instead. Highly recommend this one!
  • Phone a friend. If you don’t already have an accountability buddy…get one! When trying to drop some pounds and stick to a new lifestyle, having someone right next to you to cheer you on and keep you on track when you need it most is vital to success. Find someone you can seriously trust, and when you’re about to gorge on a gallon of ice cream, call her/him for an uplifting chat instead.
  • Stay busy. This is the tactic I’ve found works the best for me. Instead of wallowing in your sorrows on the couch, mindlessly eating chips and salsa (totally guilty), hop up and get moving. If some exercise is just not in the plan, no worries! Head out the door and run some errands or go to the mall instead. Anything to get your mind off your struggle and get your body moving.
  • The rubberband trick. This is something we’ve done with our EWL peeps for years, and it seriously works. Grab a plain old rubber band, decorate it if you’d like, then throw it on your wrist and leave it there. Then, when you’re feeling like you’re on the verge of diving into a dark zone, snap your wrist with the rubberband to refocus your attentions. It may sound silly, but we have found it to work again and again.

If you’re asking yourself, “What can I do to stop stress eating,” starting with these tips and tricks will really help you along the way. There are so many different ways to keep your mind and body on track when the urge to binge comes up, but these 4 have proved to be the most successful for us and our peeps. Try one or all of them out next time the craving calls!


Relating reading:

Ask The Powells: How Can I Structure My Meals?
Reignite Your Fire To Achieve Your Goals
Ask The Powells: How Do I Gain Healthy Weight?

42 Responses

  1. My weight journey has been like a hike in southern Ohio. Up and down. I have struggled for the least 2 years and put back on every pound I lost 5 years ago. It seems like the harder I fought the faster it came on. After a super crappy 4 months I found myself sitting in my office TODAY missing a dear friend and going to eat. I realized I wasn’t hungry, I was sad. Thank you for these tips. I am so amazed and grateful at the amazing timing of it all

  2. Heidi,

    I’ve been watching the program for some time now. Never realised you had a website (totally blonde):-) WOW, find some excellent advice here. I can train like a beast, but i struggle with nutrition. And boy am i happy to see you just give all the advice here! Thank you so much! I want a total transformation before 1 December. Wish i could borrow you in person for 1 month! Would be totally awesome! keep up the good work! Lots of love xoxo

  3. shamecca legette – July 16, 2016
    Shamecca again. OK. I was 265 and and I just came down to 249 if I do the carb cycle will I gain the weight loss back?
    How many pounds can I expect to lose with the fit carb cycle a month with me following the with me following the exercise plan and cycle to the T?
    Can I take my Garcina Cambodia with the carb cycle?
    I have not been drinking a lot of water?(I?m ashame of it but it will get better !)

    So the last four or five days I?ve been eating good,(garlic asparagus,rice, baked tilapia,salmon with salad yogurt for snacks and lunch oh and fruit, broccolic, rice, chicken,one diet soda and I?m doing 6k steps daily, yes, I?m balling outta control I changed my name to big sexy ,but anyway is it possible that I have Chinese tonight? I?m wondering if that?s what a carb cycle is?

    1. Hi Shameca: Congratulations on losing 16 pounds! You can learn all about the different carb cycles in this post: https://heidipowell.net/2713, and these carb cycles are for those who want to lose weight. As far as your rate of weight loss, that depends on your body composition and how well you follow your weight loss program, so there’s really not a one-size-fits-all answer to your question. Here’s a post where Heidi talks about supplements to help answer your question about Garcina Cambodia: https://heidipowell.net/10115. Hope this helps – you can do this!

  4. HELP…. Hello my name is shamecca legette and I’m 5’1 in height and 250 pounds in weight. I’m not really an active person by day consist of trying to make it to the gym once a day(if I can make it there) four times of week. I just started eating clean, but my a scale addict, I use the restroom I have to step on the scale to see how much weight I loss, take a shower check the scale take a sip a water back on the scale. I try to eat 400 cal at each food sitting or sometimes I’m just scared to eat all three meal everyday because the scale won’t move
    I’m not as active as I should be and I don’t drink a lot of water and I don’t have a exercise regime can u help?

    1. Hi Shameca: Yes, we can help! First of all, only weigh yourself once a week. Your weight naturally fluctuates from day to day, and that can be so frustrating! Here’s a post that outlines Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program, and it’s a complete nutrition and exercise program: https://heidipowell.net/9060. It works, and you can do this!

  5. Hi!

    I’ve put on about 20 pounds over the past 1.5 years and I’m really struggling to get it off. I eat whole foods and organically (no sodas/processed foods, etc), but it’s been a big struggle. In the video, you say that tracking what you eat is a smart step. I’ve tried hand written food journals and a phone app journal, but I’ve struggled to consistently write down what I eat. Do you have any recommendations for how to stay motivated and focused on remember to track food? Do you recommend hand written, phone apps or anything in particular?

    1. Hi Bree: I’d recommend whatever works best for you and whatever you will be most consistent with, whether that’s written or electronic. If you eat meals/foods routinely, that can also help make it easier to keep track of what you eat. And here’s a post about Chris and Heidi’s #1 transformation tool that can definitely help keep you on track and motivated: https://heidipowell.net/8679. You can do this!

  6. Hi Team Powell, I love your show and bought the Extreme Transformation book. I lost about 10 lbs following the food plan and only doing a treadmill routine of 30 min per day 3 times a week. Of course then life interjected itself,lol. I’m 66 yrs old with asthma so the intense workouts are kind of out of the picture for me. I’m restarting the food plan so I can lose 30-40 lbs. Since the intense workouts are not on the agenda, do you have any suggestions for seniors who want to lose weight and get in good shape? I think you might find there is a large senior base who need some help getting healthy
    Thanks for your time

    1. Hi Linda: Congratulations on losing 10 pounds! Nutrition is a huge part of weight loss, so make sure you’re following the nutrition part of your carb cycle exactly. Then move as you can as directed by your doctor, and you should be good to go! What has he/she said about swimming? Or maybe ask him/her about doing the treadmill for fewer minutes at a lower pace/intensity. Your doc can be a great resource to help you know what you can do as far as exercising goes. You can do this!

  7. Bonsoir Heidi je suis ce que vous faite ? la t?l?vision et sinc?rement j’adore.
    je ne suis pas en surpoids mais j’ai un grand parcours derri?re moi ancienne boulimique Anorexique et Hyperphagique j’ai r?ussis ? perdre 10 kilos et ? ne pas les reprendre je suis une di?te saine mais je craque tous les jours pour du pain ou ce don je me prive pour pouvoir m affiner et me muscler.
    Je viens vers vous car j’aimerais avoir des conseils pour ne pas grignoter craquer sur mes aliments interdit? je sais que tout est dans ma t?te mais j’ai toujours mes crises de boulimie qui revienne surtout en me privant. comment faites vous pour tenir sans grignoter ?


    Mlle Kimberley

  8. Hello,
    I was hoping you could give me some insight on emotional eating. I have suffered from depression for many years and have been an emotional eater. Which has gotten worse since i was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I put on 80 pound in 5 months which is how I was diagnosed. While I do my best to watch what I eat, something always pulls me back. I have followed your book for carb cycling and try no to stray from it the best I can. An I work out regularly! Doctors just tell me I have to accept it. This is the way it going to be. I dont want to accept that and for my mental healthy I refuse to beleive that. Do you know anything that help keep the craving down and can help boost weight loss for hypo thyroid???

    1. Hi Sarah: You’ll want to discuss carb cycling with your healthcare team and see if they have any modifications they might recommend for your hypothyroidism. As far as emotional eating, be sure you’re making and keeping those small, simple promises to yourself, and here’s a refresher post on promises for your convenience: https://heidipowell.net/8679. These promises can be a huge key to achieving any goal, so be sure and give them a try! You can do this! 🙂

  9. So tough….do you have tips on how to not give into emotional eating when you are trying to lose weight but the scale is not reflecting it. I’ve been exercising….doing either metabolic missions or the group personal training sessions at the gym. This past week I even did the turbo charge – and I gained two pounds! My clothes fit better but in the back of my mind I keep wondering if maybe I’m kidding myself and not being honest. But yet I am measuring and weighing everything. I have not even been able to do the reset days as I am scared about overdoing it. Any ideas on how to not give into the depression on the scale not reflecting…or how to get it to budge?

    1. Hi Debi: It sounds like you’re on the right track! While the Reset Day can be scary, it is one of the keys to losing weight. It “resets” your body from it’s routine (our bodies love routines!), and has been proven to help you drop pounds. Give it a try? And remember to only weigh yourself once a week, and don’t forget about those promises that you make and keep to yourself. These truly are Chris and Heidi’s #1 transformation tool and can help with emotional eating especially! Here’s a refresher on promises, just in case: https://heidipowell.net/8679. You can do this!

  10. Those are good tips. I struggle with emotional eating. 5 years ago I started recovering memories from my childhood (sexual abuse). To say the least, this took me almost down–as I struggled to not become an alcoholic to numb the pain. I knew I had a bad childhood (you are not in foster care for nothing) but…..

    I struggle when I have therapy sessions….or right after. It’s like I need to sooth that inner child that is so damaged. I’ve now joined the Powell DietBet. Any other hints on how to deal with pain? I’m convinced that the stress of it does not do me any good–even if I stay under my calories.

    Me (to protect the innocent)

    1. Hi Annabelle: Welcome to Chris and Heidi’s DietBet game! I’m so sorry to hear about all you’ve been dealing with, and I can’t imagine how difficult this all must be for you. Besides the tips in this post, you might discuss them with your therapist and see if he/she has any ideas on what might help. He/she would be the best person to ask since he/she understands what you’re going through and is better trained to help. We wish you the best! ?

    2. One thing I was able to do….I at least won the latest Powell DietBet. It’s one step closer.

    3. That’s awesome! Every step, even the tiniest one, gets you that much closer to your goal! 🙂

  11. I just joined Powell Transformations for 14.99 month but it doesn’t say whether or not they incorporate the carb cycling and if it does is it extreme or intermediate or beginner? It has all the exercises and meals just didn’t mention the carb cycling. Also do i still need to buy the books? I am going al out to change my life and I really believe in this program so just didn’t have a way to contact them through that program.

    1. Hi Del: The Powell Transformations site follows the Easy Cycle, and you don’t need to buy the book – everything is outlined for you on the site. If you need to contact the site, there’s a chat/support button on the right side of the screen. You can do this!

  12. I am guilty of going up and down with my weight and emotional eating. I have to go to a wedding in July and am currently the biggest I have ever been(295lbs-5’7).I am unable to work due to a double rotator cuff injury and can barely use my arms. I see ppl on your show lose 90lbs in 90 days. Is that possible for a regular person? If I lose 90lbs I am still overweight but it is a start.I feel terrible about myself and want to be able to hold my head high not get lectures about how I am too overweight from people at this wedding.

    1. Hi Ayla: Chris and Heidi recommend a 10% weight loss goal for the first 90 days, and with your injury, which somewhat limits your ability to work out, this would be a great goal for you! You can learn about Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program – the same program they use on the show – here: https://heidipowell.net/9060. And be sure and work with your healthcare team on any exercises that involve your injury and have them help you make any necessary modifications. You can do this!

  13. Great tips! I find that keeping a food journal definitely helps me to stay on track and also to see my progress or where I might need work. I have never heard of or tried the rubber band tip but just might have to give that one a go for myself and clients. Like you said, it might sound weird but if it works to help you refocus….why not!? Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Ioma: I’m so sorry, but we don’t have any of the program or charts in Indian. You could try using Google Translate to translate the posts on Heidi’s blog into Indian. We wish you the best!

  14. Hey Heidi. I love yours and Chris show extreme weight loss. I am overweight big time. I was in a abusive marriage. I went thru a lot as a child that I haven’t told a sole. I suffer from anxiety and depression and take medication for them. I need help Heidi. I struggle from paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford a lot of stuff to be able to try to lose weight. I would love to talk to you or Chris about my weight gain. I am from a small town in Alabama. Please please help me Heidi. I need help to get this weight off.

    1. Hi LuCinda: Thank you for your comment! Chris and Heidi truly wish they could personally help everyone, but since they can’t, you can begin your transformation journey today with the same program they use on EWL. You can learn about their cycling program here: https://heidipowell.net/9060. And be sure and follow all the links within the post too. The exercise part of their program requires no gym membership or equipment, so that should be very helpful for you. And please discuss this, or any nutrition and exercise program, with your healthcare team first, and then follow any modifications they might recommend. Make that first promise, choose a cycle, and go! You can do this!

  15. 5 months ago I had an accident and landed on my spine (horseback riding) TG I had no fractures or nerve damage but still put me on a wheelchair for 2 weeks and I struggled to walk for a month after.

    Before the accident I used to be very active and workout 6 days/week (3 days/wk weight lifting + bootcamp, yoga, zumba, jogging, surfing, you name it) and was eating about 1350-1500 cal/day. Weighted 145 lbs. After the accident I havent been able to workout that much and have gained about 20 lbs! Its depressing.

    6 weeks ago I started walking every day for 30 mins and cooking almost everything I eat yet, I dont see any drastic changes. I am dealing with a lot of anxiety/frustration and I feel now is affecting me. The mental and emotional aspect of this situation has been devastating for me.

    Any caloric intake suggestions? I am eating 5 times per day (3 meals 2 snacks), I am shooting for over 100 gr of protein per day, I am 5’7”.

    1. Hi BB: I’m so sorry to hear about your accident and can’t imagine how difficult and frustrating this all has been for you. You can learn about Chris and Heidi?s carb cycling program, the same program they use on the show, here: https://heidipowell.net/9060. And be sure and follow all the links within the post?everything you need to know and do to achieve your transformation goals is outlined in their program. It would also be a good idea to discuss this program with your healthcare team first, and then follow any modifications they might recommend. Make that first promise, choose a cycle, and go! You can do this!

  16. Hi Heidi! All my life I’ve struggled with my weight. I’m definitely an emotional eater and a self sabotger meaning when I hit a good stride..I binge. I’m now 25 lbs away from my goal weight and seem to have hit a self sabotage wall that I can’t get out of. Help!!!

    1. Hi Emily: Congratulations on getting so close to your goal – that’s awesome! Here’s a post about Chris and Heidi’s #1 transformation tool, and I think it could help you move forward on your path to achieve your goals: https://heidipowell.net/8679. Give it a try – it works! You can do this!

  17. I purchased the book Extreme Transformation, and dove right in. But I quickly hit a road block. What do you substitute items with that you can’t find readily available in smaller towns…specifically low sodium cheddar cheese & low sodium cottage cheese? I already tried asking the grocer if they would special order and they can’t.

    1. Hi Sunshine: No worries, just do the best you can! You can use the “regular” brands of cheese, just try and keep an eye on those sodium levels in the other foods you’re eating. Aim for 2000mg a day of sodium or less. You got this! ?

  18. Neat tips….but how do you stop diving for the bag of yummy sugar (chocolate anything) when you are tired?? I eat well when i have energy but the second it dives off the edge, usually around thursday i hit the sugar and undo all the good stuff :/

  19. Those are great tips! I have started to do more crafting. I have come to the realization I am an emotional eater. I like to crochet to stay out of that zone. I gotta try the rubber band trick. I think the actual snap will help.

  20. Heidi, I look up to you and Chris both so much! That being said, I was wondering what y’alls opinion was on the Ketogenic diet. Is this something that you have heard of?

  21. This has ALWAYS been my problem and it does seem impossible to defeat. Binge eating has always side tracked me from achieving my goals. I’d either be so stressed that I couldn’t eat and I’d lose a lot of weight just to gain it all back when I’d be so down id eat junk non stop. I always feel terrible afterward. A daily battle in my life!

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