How to Stop Emotional Binge Eating

by Melissa McNamara Google

About Melissa McNamara

Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.


Emotional eating occurs when you use food for comforting your mood instead of fulfilling hunger. Emotional eating is not an eating disorder, but it is a common symptom of binge eating disorder. Depression, anxiety, boredom and a stressful event can increase your risk of an emotional binge eating session. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States, and there are several methods available to control your emotional eating habits.

Step 1

Consult with your doctor or a counselor about your emotional eating. Psychotherapy can help you identify the triggers of your emotional eating and develop a plan on how to control these urges. If you’re in a group psychotherapy session, you can meet others who struggle with the same eating patterns.

Step 2

Learn stress management techniques to help you face the problem before it starts. Meditative breathing, practicing yoga, reading a book, exercising, taking a bubble bath and doing fewer daily tasks are all examples of stress management.

Step 3

Create a plan of action for what you’ll do when the urge to binge occurs. Be prepared and know what to do if you become emotional. Call a friend or family member, take a walk, give yourself a manicure, organize your closet or go to the gym. Finding a replacement for eating is necessary to stop the binge-eating routine.

Step 4

Limit the amount of food in your home and only buy healthy foods. Keep your diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats. High-fat foods may activate brain chemicals that make you feel content and fulfilled, which is the reason you tend to overeat these comfort foods.


  • Do not start a weight management program until you have been treated for binge eating since a low-calorie diet may trigger binging.
  • Keep a journal that includes what you ate, how much you ate, when you ate, and how you felt before and after eating. This may help you discover and break the patterns of your emotional binge eating.
  • Discuss antidepressant medications with a psychiatrist. Antidepressants can improve your mood and lessen your compulsive urge to binge eat. Medication is typically most effective when taken in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Eat breakfast when you wake up. Breakfast is often skipped by people with binge-eating disorder.


  • Some patients develop suicidal thoughts while taking antidepressants. Talk to your doctor immediately if this occurs.
  • Emotional binge-eating can lead to obesity, which increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

Photo Credits:

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or