Poll: Does Music Help You Handle Emotional Eating?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

We all know that listening to the right music can help us get the most out of our workouts. Not only can the prospect of listening to your favorite music while working out help you get off your butt and actually do it, music with a good tempo can help you keep up the intensity of your workout and have a little fun in the process.

But what about eating problems? Can listening to music help you avoid eating because youíre tired, bored, lonely, or frustrated?

Thereís plenty of evidence that music influences mood. It can distract you from unpleasant thoughts or feelings when youíre caught up in them; it can help you remember better times when youíre having a bad day; it can help you recover your inspiration when youíre feeling bored or wondering why you even bother to try to lose weight. In general, it seems to give us a way to manage and express feelings without doing something we donít really want to do.

At the very least, deciding to listen to a little music can help you put a little time in between the stimulus to reach for something to eat and your response, and thatís often all you need to stay mindful and avoid mindless eating.

I know that, when Iím trying to avoid extra snacking or, especially, my tendency to graze all evening while Iím working at my computer, playing some good music really helps. Iíve even got a special iTunes playlist I use with a few songs that seem to work especially well at helping me calm down if Iím upset about something, or rekindle my interest and sense of purpose if Iím bored or frustrated. When push comes to shove, I just tell myself Iíll wait until the next song is over before I decide whether Iíll have something to eat, and that often is enough to let the urge pass without eating.

Whatís your experience? Does music help you deal with emotional eating?

Hereís a few of my favorite ďsongs to soothe the savage breast.Ē Do you have any favorites that work well for you?

For keeping my problems in perspective:
Let It Be from Across the Universe

For picking myself up when I'm down:
Brad Mehldau's piano jazz version of Blackbird

For reminding myself what I'd rather do than eat:
Bob Dylan's Shelter from the Storm

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  • 93
    I've never heard of listening to music when I'm fighting the urge to eat. I'm going to try it. I do listen to music when I'm depressed a little bit. I suffer with sever chronic depression and when I'm so low listening to music doesn't always work. I'm really pumped by the thought of listening to music to fight hunger. Thanks coach. - 3/28/2010   11:29:09 AM
  • 92
    ABSOLUTELY!!! If I got my internal GPS to that iPOD more often, I'd be a lot less sedentary and have less guilt....because I wouldn't be grazing!!!!!!! Love this poll! - 2/10/2010   10:55:14 AM
  • 91
    Music is such a great gift! When I listen to music I easily get lost in it. I can feel in throughout my body. It's a euphoric experience! - 2/5/2010   5:03:57 PM
  • 90
    I love music since it makes me want to dance - not eat!! - 9/2/2009   2:29:32 PM
  • DCNURSE2000
    I like to listen to Harp music by Jeff Majors. It is Christian lyrics. My favorite song is Psalm 23. Music helps me with eating and relaxing. - 8/6/2009   10:17:53 AM
  • 88
    I like listening to Louise L. Hay's Stress Free/Self Esteem/Feeling Fine affirmation cd's - some of these have subliminal tracks with positive affirmations on them, and there is also a track with the same affirmations that are not Subliminal on them for those who want to hear it. The Stree free really helps me relax, and calm down. Love yourself, Heal your life! :) - 7/13/2009   11:25:57 AM
    when I was debating leaving my marriage I listened to a lot of music - in a way maybe it was a way of not dealing with the obvious. I found myself wanting what was happening in the songs I listened to. They were speaking what I wanted to say but did not have the guts to say it.

    I find though generally speaking I feel good when I listen to music and eating is probably the last thing on my mind while listening.
    So as a distraction from issues surrounding me and from a therapy stand point I believe whole heartedly that music provides all kinds of good things.

    SOmetimes it even gets me out of my chair to do the boogey in the living room.....dancing is an obvious response...so is singing.....in the car only though for the singing....lol

    So how can any of that be bad..... - 7/5/2009   8:38:55 AM
  • 86
    I'm going to work on building a little collection of soothing music to play at bedtime.

    I live in Austin, Texas--a big MUSIC town, and was a musician myself in my teenage years. Yet I have a definite lack of music included in my daily adult life. I've set up a sequence of short-term goals for myself designed to slowly begin incorporating music into my life again, more and more. I know music is therapeutic, and expressing myself musically used to be an integral part of my life.

    My biggest challenge with emotional eating is near bedtime. I'm seeking comfort and calm at the end of the day, and I run to SUGAR to dull my anxiety and stress. Since I'm also socially very isolated, I've been known to just jump in my car at 10pm to grab a pint of ice cream from a convenience store. I would begin eating it the second I got back in my car, eat while driving home, and finish off the carton in front of the TV. Talk about compulsive! For awhile, I even kept a bag of plastic spoons in the glove compartment for just that reason!

    - 5/26/2009   7:42:28 PM
  • 85
    I use music therapy for practically every thing I possibly can through out my day. I wake up to it, I go to bed to it, I meditate to it, I even have music on when I am eating. Music is wonderful! - 5/14/2009   10:27:37 AM
  • 84
    What an awesome idea - I don't know how this hasn't occurred to me before. Thank you so much for this article, will definitely be trying this out... :) - 5/14/2009   9:58:10 AM
    Very interesting! I know the power of music on the mind and use it frequently to relieve stress or to motivate myself, or just to put myself in a different state of mind. But I never associated it with helping to control emotional eating. I'll have to test some tunes! And how great to find another Brad Mehldau fan! Thanks for this article. - 5/8/2009   12:13:32 PM
  • 82
    I never thought about music helping with emotional eating I will definately think about it more . I like listening to all differant types of music and when I'm stressed I like to listen to classical or opera and it calms me down so I will definately try this next time I start to eat when emotional. Great article!!! - 5/5/2009   10:08:26 AM
  • 81
    YES! Music helps me with so many things--dealing with anger, sadness, frustration, and stress; celebrating the good things and enhancing a good mood; studying (I nearly always have music playing while I study or read); and curing boredom, and thus stops me from emotional eating. It's a huge part of my life. I don't know what I'd do without it. I stick to various sorts of rock. My favorite music ranges from classic rock, rock with jazz or blues influence, symphonic metal, alternative rock, and...whatever the heck Primus is considered. A few bands that I would suggest to any rock fan are Wishbone Ash, Budgie, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Lucifer's Friend, Atomic Rooster, and King Crimson. They're all bands from the late '60s/early '70s, and Wishbone Ash and King Crimson still tour. Atomic Rooster just put out a CD in 2008. Amazing stuff--beautifully crafted, superbly played, and it rocks!
    And hey--if anyone else on here listens to these bands, let me know! I rarely find people who know them, so I love meeting people who do. :) - 5/3/2009   4:59:32 PM
  • JLG4779
    This is so true for me! I need to find a new focus other than having something to eat when I am upset and I find music is the best! I like a good rock ballad to pump me up, like Journey's Dont stop believin', works almost everytime! - 5/3/2009   1:08:07 PM
  • 79
    Great blog. I like music when i work out .. any thing that has a good beat - 5/3/2009   12:31:19 PM
  • 78
    I am an emotional eater but I always have gum and that helps, music however makes me workout harder and longer! - 5/3/2009   12:00:30 PM
  • 77
    Great article, I will try it..
    Thank you - 5/3/2009   11:36:38 AM
    I think music and a cup of green tea are good combination to avoid the temptation! - 5/3/2009   5:08:11 AM
  • 75
    I turn to CMT,switch to a favorite country video and it runs all the video music for that artist.I small size it to keep it as background music as I'm doing things on the puter.Favorites are Trisha Yearwood and Shina Twain but I like it all especially country gospil and country duets.Music has been part of my life from glee club to Karaoke.I like to hear the storys country tells and it relaxes me...Chef Jim - 5/3/2009   3:54:49 AM
  • SHERI1969
    I've never really thought about it, but now that I do, yes, when I am listening to music, food is the farthest thing from my mind. Even at concernts, nobody even thinks about having a drink of water while they are cheering and shouting with dry mouths. Part of my sig line in my regular email is Music is My Sanity. I could NOT live without music and I listen to it everyday, often times more than I watch TV. Music keeps me moving. So yes, music does help me not eat. - 5/3/2009   1:15:45 AM
  • 73
    I'm surprised to find I haven't had much trouble with emotional eating... but when I do, music helps. I always try to listen to my favorite music when I get in a bad or sad mood. - 5/3/2009   12:29:39 AM
  • APRIL66
    ...with my ipod - 5/2/2009   10:25:57 PM
  • APRIL66
    If I have the urge to eat, I leave the house. - 5/2/2009   10:25:13 PM
    I usually chew gum to avoid munching. Though music sounds like a good idea, and a heck of a lot cheaper, as I have a good library already. - 5/2/2009   4:51:05 PM
  • 69
    It apparently does work for me as If i am listening to music I rarely find myself eating. I am a grazer, but I have noticed of late that my grazing is merely elongating my meals. I have slowed down my eating pace. When I have music on it does soothe me and usually makes me want to move not eat. - 5/2/2009   3:06:20 PM
    Oh yeah, it works very well for me. It always has. It could anything from 50's & 60's rock that my sisters listened to, or 80's metal is my favorite. Oh I loved those 80's Hair Bands. I must say though, for a very close friend, it works just the opposite. If you haven't tried it you should give it a whirl! It just might work wonders. - 5/2/2009   12:06:43 PM
  • 67
    singing keeps me from eatting, or atleast slows me down :) - 5/2/2009   11:18:01 AM
  • 66
    Music sooths my savage beast often. And some days I have to just accept it was a bad day and let it go - and I put in the DVD - "So You Had A Bad Day" - 5/2/2009   9:53:33 AM
  • 65
    I absolutely love this idea. Using music as a distraction to emotional eating never occurred to me but I'm making a playlist today. And ACLAYJAR's idea of listening to humor too...Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me is perfect! - 5/2/2009   7:39:02 AM
  • 64
    Guilty confession: When I listen to music that I think is sexy (i.e. smooth jazz, etc.), it definitely takes my mind off wanting to eat. - 5/2/2009   7:33:33 AM
    I like these ideas. Music while I do my chores also helps me to get the job done. - 5/2/2009   4:58:03 AM
  • 62
    I find I'm much more easily distracted by and episode of "Wait Wait don't tell me" ""car Talk" or other humorous podcast. - 5/1/2009   6:56:11 PM
  • 61
    I am definitely an emotional eater and I am influenced by music. I just never put the two together. I am going to try this. The next time I feel the need to emotionally eat, I will try putting on some calming music or music that distracts me from eating. Thanks for this. - 5/1/2009   4:28:54 PM
  • 60
    I am definitely an emotional eater, but I never thought of using music to help me. Maybe I should make a playlist of songs to listen to when I'm about to eat because I'm stressed/upset/bored/etc. I think it would definitely help. - 5/1/2009   3:01:02 PM
  • 59
    Interesting, both the blog and the comments. I'm not much of an emotional eater ... in fact, more of an emotional under-eater, but when I think of what I'm usually doing while listening to music, it's not USUALLY anything that can be done while eating, so it makes sense. - 5/1/2009   2:55:06 PM
  • 58
    Well I'm not a emotional eatier, BUT when my girls are on their periods OMG!!!! I just cant stop eatting and listening to music i just don't know, I think it'll just make me want to eat more,i love to listening to my HARD CORE HEAVY METAL MUSIC when i clean or excersice I know it's weird but it really get's me moving. I think I'll just stick to listening to music when I'm doing my thing.. - 5/1/2009   2:02:34 PM
    I've never tried music to deal with my emotional eating. I'll have to give it a try. - 5/1/2009   1:41:57 PM
  • 56
    Workout music has always been important to me, but I never thought to use music to battle emotional eating. It's a great idea, and makes so much sense! I'm definitely going to try it. If nothing else, it might give me a little bit of a distraction when the munchies hit. - 5/1/2009   1:35:54 PM
  • 55
    I've never thought of this, but it does actually help. Sometimes I graze while at the computer, but when I listen to music rather than sit in silence I don't seem to graze. Interesting. . . - 5/1/2009   12:25:39 PM
    Cello Submarine CD - Classic Beatles songs done by 12 Cellists from the Berlin Philharmonic - Uplifting and beautiful - 5/1/2009   12:14:48 PM
    Thanks for the heads-up on Mehldau's "Blackbird," Dean!

    Now, don't laugh at this one: "Sheep May Safely Graze," by J.S. Bach. It keeps ME from grazing! It's got the same soothing effect on me that Pachelbel's "Canon" does. Another one is Barber's "Adagio for Strings." It's melancholy, but both it and the Bach selection are so soothing, they make it easier for me to turn down munching :) - 5/1/2009   11:56:55 AM
    Such an amazing concept!!
    Will definitely give it a try!:) - 5/1/2009   11:54:41 AM
    Dare I say it. I am not really a music person. I tend to listen to mostly instrumental music when I do have some on. Celtic or classical. I rarely have the radio on in the car and I have a 45 min commute. Don't listen to hardly any modern stuff. I find I just am not into it.
    I do listen to music when I am working out. In class don't have a choice as it is picked for me. And most of the time it is way way to loud for my taste. Why do they have to blast the volume when teaching a class???
    When on my own I listen to the sound track of Wicked or Sweeney Todd. I know both dark themes.
    I find that alot of the modern satuff does not help my mood, in alot of cases it makes it worse. Single no kids, just don't want to listen to love songs, some body done me wrong song etc. So I tend to stick with just plain music. - 5/1/2009   11:41:58 AM
  • 50
    Try "You better get to livin" by Dolly Parton - great motivational song! - 5/1/2009   11:27:26 AM
    Any activity will save you from emotional eating. Dancing it is best for that.Dancing to music that you like. - 5/1/2009   11:25:14 AM
    Wow! I've never thought of doing this. I am going to remember to give it a try. - 5/1/2009   11:20:30 AM
    This is something that I will definitely try. - 5/1/2009   11:12:22 AM
  • 46
    Over the years i have always use music to affect my moods. I never thought to use it as a means of helping me get over the urge to eat something! It always helps my moods, so i have an idea it will help with the overeating as well!
    Thanks for the heads up! Great article! - 5/1/2009   10:59:06 AM
    I have a Greek tape from a singer name Kostas, from 1985, the love album from the Beatles, and latinamerican music. - 5/1/2009   10:18:26 AM
  • 44
    Great topic, Coach!

    My main source of emotional eating is frustration, and it has many shades:

    - When I wanna keep my problems in perspective: Always look on the bright side of life by the Monty Python

    - When my thoughts have gotten too complicated and painful: Disorder by Joy Division

    - When all I see around me is darkness: True Faith by New Order

    - When I need just a little push to start feeling optimistic again: Friday I'm in Love by the Cure

    - When I need to know there's order in the universe: the Brandenburg Concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach

    There's so much more... I have different playlists for different moods...
    It works wonders for me!

    Remeber how Jack Nicolson's character did this in *As good as it gets*? - 5/1/2009   10:05:04 AM

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