By Renetta Weaver | Jan 1, 2022

Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

Emotional eating is something we all do from time to time. I mean who hasn’t enjoyed or indulged in food when you were not physically hungry? Food and friends/family go together. Food is the great social connector and is often the centerpiece of a wonderful experience. However, food can also lead to social disconnection when it is misused to help us numb out, escape, and to feel better in our bodies. That is when we are no longer enjoying food, but we are employing food into a form of service to cope with a real or perceived disservice. When we feel annoyed, angry, sad, or out of control and use food to relax those feelings, it comes with the unwanted emotional and physical consequences of guilt, shame, weight gain, and chronic diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

The New Year is one of those times that individuals plan to eat healthier and can bring up so many of our hidden emotions and exacerbate our emotional eating. We often want to avoid food because we are afraid that one bite of something will lead to binge eating. You know that kind of eating where you feel like you want to stop but cannot. That is when you know you are eating out of the emotional part of your
brain. When you are feeding your feelings, your brain gets a reward, so your brain gets hijacked by that feeling of pleasure and demands more food to get that reward even though it always ends up in negative outcomes later. If this is something you can relate to and have not
been able to overcome the emotional barriers to your physical weight loss then it might be time to seek out professional help.

In the meantime, if you are struggling with navigating emotional eating I want you to know you are not alone. I often get asked how to keep the scale moving to the left in the right way so I want to these four tips that I give to them might also help you or someone you know.

To break up with emotional eating:


Avoid triggering people, places, and things! For example, sometimes we feel obligated to attend our family gatherings but feel anxious about going because we know that a certain someone that hurt you is going to be there. Everyone else knows what this person did but they pretend like it did not happen and you are tired of pretending. Holding on to that secret is making you sick and you are tired of using food and your weight as ways to keep silent. I want to invite you to permit yourself not to go. Now I know others will try to make you feel guilt and shame but remember you are not to blame. No one has been there to rescue you so you must find healthy ways to save yourself. You do not have to keep going around the person that hurt you for the sake of making everyone else comfortable.


You do not have to cook with unhealthy ingredients. Listen,
that recipe might have been passed down through the generations in your family but obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and early death might have been unwanted byproducts. Those recipes might run in our family, but we can break the cycle and bring recipes that offer health and healing to our family. There is nothing new under the sun
but there can be new ways to get there. When you know better you can do better. Find healthy and tasty ways to prepare your meals.


Expectations lead to disappointment. Meaning we are attached to a
certain outcome. When things don’t go as planned, we feel some type of way. Let us start practicing non-attachment and practice acceptance instead. This way of being, allows us to stop doing too much. Remember my quote, “If it’s meant for me, it will never miss me.”


Eating fast and cleaning our plates are both usually learned behaviors
from our formative years. Those behaviors turned into habits and old habits die hard because a habit has become our brain’s GPS and does not rely on us to be a part of the process of getting to its desired destination. So, if the programing is around food getting you to a state
of numbness or euphoria, you are going to push on the gas pedal and eat fast. Or if you learned must clean this plate to avoid feeling guilty or getting in trouble you are going to clean that plate. Or you received the message that it was rude not to eat everything on your plate you are
going to eat even if I am full because I do not want to offend. A secret is to eat on a smaller plate or to fill your plate up with protein and vegetables and smaller amounts of slider foods.

Again, I hope these tips will help you to navigate emotional eating healthily in this New Year and all the other seasons of your life.

Dr. Renetta D. Weaver is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Board-Certified Bariatric Counselor. Dr. Renetta founded “Regain No More” which provides pre and post-Bariatric Education and Clinical support. She is a blogger for Clinicians of Color. Connect with her at renetta@regainnomore.com.


Renetta Weaver

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