avoid emotional eating

60 Ways to Avoid Emotional Eating

September 5, 2014

As a little girl, I was a magician that would rearrange cookies in the cookie jar to cover up how many cookies I'd eaten on the sly. It wasn't just a cute phase or a small blip in my life. I've always struggled with emotional eating and the shame that follows. Whenever I feel an emotion that I don't want to feel or merely uncomfortable, I'll want to eat. After having weight loss surgery, I still struggle.  The urge to stuff my feelings has never fully gone away.

Since I'm no longer the little girl magician and I've invested so much to change my life and conquer obesity, I've spent many years looking for and testing ways to avoid emotional eating. I have a list that I started and occasionally add to things that help me. My emotional eating issues are a work in progress, just like this list is. When I come across something that is helpful, I will add it to my list.  I'm sharing my list with you, in hopes that it might help others and so that I can add others'  suggestions to this list. Let me know what works for you!

Ways to Avoid Emotional Eating List

  1. Hang out on your favorite ObesityHelp.com message board (or check out others) and post
  2. Set up an online tracker to keep you motivated and track your food and activity
  3. Change your environment to change your mindset, i.e., from your family room to go outside
  4. Call a friend or loved one
  5. Take a walk
  6. Do a crossword puzzle
  7. Garden
  8. Brush your teeth
  9. Paint your nails
  10. Take a shower or a bath
  11. Drink water (many times thirst masks as hunger)
  12. Organize a bothersome drawer or closet
  13. Play a video game
  14. Check out new apps on your mobile device
  15. Read a magazine
  16. Try out a new hobby
  17. Catch up on emails
  18. Go shopping at a mall
  19. Walk around the mall while you're there
  20. Eat a cinnamon or mint-flavored sugar-free mints
  21. Watch a movie
  22. Make a cup of soothing herbal tea
  23. Watch a favorite television show
  24. Write in a journal
  25. Do crunches and/or push-ups
  26. Take a drive - either alone or invite someone to go with you
  27. Create your own goal using the ObesityHelp Goal System
  28. Put in an exercise DVD and workout
  29. Play solitaire
  30. Listen to your favorite tunes
  31. Dance to those favorite tunes
  32. Check out Before/After Photos for lots of motivation
  33. Lift weights, kettlebells or use resistance bands to tone and build muscle
  34. Go for a bike ride
  35. Call, write a note or email to tell someone how much they mean to you
  36. Create a scrapbook of your favorite photos or your own weight loss journey
  37. Color in a coloring book (remember how much fun you had as a child?)
  38. Write down 10 people and things you are most grateful for
  39. Read a book
  40. Play a board game with friends and family
  41. Check out classes or lessons (singing, piano, cooking) that you're interested in
  42. Paint
  43. Try a hobby that involves your hands such as looming, knitting, counted cross stitch, floral design, etc.
  44. Write down the reasons you had bariatric surgery and wanted to lose weight; post it on your refrigerator
  45. Prepare a new healthy WLS-friendly dish
  46. Take a nap
  47. Take photographs of family, friends, outside and some selfies 🙂
  48. Plan your next vacation
  49. Play (or learn) an instrument
  50. Pray or Meditate
  51. Do Yoga
  52. Work on a jigsaw puzzle
  53. Go to the library and check out books
  54. Work on a Sudoku puzzle
  55. Buy an audiobook that you listen to only when you are exercising
  56. Make jewelry
  57. Check out volunteer opportunities in your community, i.e. school, church, hospitals, a favorite cause
  58. Read motivational and inspirational quotes
  59. Cruise the Internet to research about things you're interested in or, better yet, new things that interest you
  60. And last, but not least, address what's really bothering you so you can combat emotional eating
avoid emotional eating

Photo Credit: "3 Temptations" by Kathleen FranklinCC

cathy wilson


Cathy Wilson, PCC, BCC, had RNY surgery in 2001 and lost 147 pounds. Cathy is a regular contributor to the OH Blog and authored the "Mind Matters" column in ObesityHelp Magazine. Cathy is a licensed pilot and loves flying. She is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).

Read more articles by Cathy!