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Health & Wellness Articles  ›  Emotional Health

Take Action Against Emotional Eating

Regain Control With Exercise

-- By Zach Van Hart, Staff Writer
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HEADLINE: Emotional Eating is a Problem

Your reaction: Tell me something I don’t know…

By now, you likely know what emotional eating is. You probably realize that emotions cause 75% of overeating. You're an expert on how to discover times and triggers of high emotions. What you’re waiting on are alternatives. Enter exercise.

Exercise is a great emotional outlet because it provides remedies for many of the emotions that trigger eating. Plus it’s a healthy alternative.

You’re in control
Different feelings can cause emotional spells. Loss of control is one. Maybe you’re going through a difficult break-up. Your company is downsizing. A family member is ill. You can go all day feeling like you’re losing control – until the moment you open the fridge. Now, the control is back.

Exercise can remedy this even better, providing the same in-control feelings that food does. You can decide which exercises you do, where you exercise and for how long, and the list goes on. Work out in the living room, or at the park. Break a quick sweat in 15 minutes, or walk for an hour. Unlike other areas in your life, this choice is yours.

Reverse the unhealthy trend
Hopelessness is another cause of emotional eating. You may feel unhealthy, overweight, and that you can’t do anything about it. So you turn to comfort foods, typically unhealthy ones, and simply add to the problem. Exercise is another way to deal with your emotions and to regain hope, only it’s a healthy version. All exercise holds some healthy benefits; there’s no exercise that will make you unhealthier. Continued ›

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About The Author

Zach Van Hart Zach Van Hart
Zach is a journalist who regularly covers health and exercise topics.

Member Comments

  • I have found that it not emotional eating so much as it is eating out of boredom or exhaustion that gets me. I am working on mindful eating and not eating just for something to do - I always stay busy but sometimes the tasks are tedious and dull and I think that I want to eat when I am really not hungry. - 12/26/2013 10:55:29 PM
  • Oh shoot (picture from article goes into my head) . . . now I want a Reese's cup . . . lol!

    I am in control and REFUSE to spend my hard earned $1 on junk food. Thankfully!!!!

    My go to tip for avoiding emotional eating . . . take a bath, take a nap, take a walk, or call a friend and paint my fingernails (it's hard to eat with wet polish)---just to get 'engaged' in something besides eating.

    Good article, good common sense. - 10/11/2013 3:58:01 PM
  • Sometimes I eat when I get emotional. But exercise is a great way instead of stuffing our face. - 8/12/2013 7:40:39 AM
  • the problem that i come up against is this: i know that exercising will have the same effect as eating, but going to the kitchen doesn't take as long. i'm a med school student, so i don't necessarily have time to change into gym clothes, go downstairs, and do a 20 minute workout every time i'm stressed out or frustrated (happens often)... - 4/3/2013 9:31:49 AM
  • My problem is that I don't have money to go to the gym, swimming, yoga or dancing classes (not even for one only) I do my exercises with the videos provided by sparkpeople and with fitness evolved, dance central - xbox. I can't share my problems (that are many for almost 3 years) with my family that is in another country and I don't have "friends" to share with either. Some days its only a hopeless felling that all I can think it's give up and just don't think anymore and go on automatic. Today specially was a really hard begging but here we go again and keep going the way I can. - 11/3/2012 12:01:38 PM
  • WELDEDLIFE, you should see a vertical bar to the left of the article. The third button up from the bottom of the list is "save".

    I like this article and I think it is useful and true information. However, I need some tips for dealing with stress and emotions during periods when I don't have time to exercise. I am going through a period like that right now and it is extremely difficult because exercise is my stress reliever and when the days are so packed that I can't fit it in, my stress level gets out of control. - 10/2/2012 3:49:58 PM
  • Is there a way to favorite articles on spark for our accounts. This is one I want to keep and reread. - 10/2/2012 12:21:00 PM
  • Boy, this could have been written after an interview wtih me. Thanks for posting it and for the ideas especially about the exercise being another form of control...and a LOT healthier and more productive than mindless eating! - 9/29/2012 4:39:03 PM
  • Great article. I especially liked the idea of the comfort exercises/activit
    ies. - 9/29/2012 1:16:21 PM
  • CARRIEPIN
    Great article! I have slowly come to love exercise (I used to HATE it) because I've found exercises that are enjoyable to me. For me those are yoga, pilates, dancing and kettlebells. Last year I had lost 50 lbs when all of a sudden my husband lost his job and it was a very stressful time. I just gave up. Stopped exercising and began eating too much. I knew I was undoing all my hard work but just didn't have it in me to keep going. I'm back on track now but am prepared this time in case another very stressful life event happens. Yoga is my favorite "comfort" exercise. It feels so good to stretch and feel strong and balanced at the same time. Thanks for putting this into perspective! - 9/29/2012 10:20:29 AM
  • I am so thankful for this article.This is my biggest problem I have gained the 10lbs i have lost nthe last two weeks. I did it today. had a bad day cried into my snickers....liter
    ally. - 9/29/2012 6:00:37 AM
  • I never considered exercise to deal with emotions...makes sense - 9/23/2012 9:55:17 PM
  • I appreciated this article because I am an emotional eater also. I like the part about exercising to stay in control instead of turning to food. I have been doing that for years now & it does work. I will find myself reaching for the candy jar when I get under stressful & emotional situations. I have had to train myself to go for a long walk or run instead. By the time I get back I no longer think about eating to calm myself. It has taken a long time to cultivate the habit of exercising instead of reaching for food, but it has been well worth it. - 9/23/2012 7:46:22 PM
  • I noted the article said that comfort foods are bad, there are some healthy comfort foods (especially in moderation) - I think its when we make bad choices that that compounds the problem. - 9/23/2012 1:54:19 PM
  • Right now we are doing some remodeling in my house it has been going on 6months everything is just piled up. It drives me crazy, that I can't put stuff up and have my house in order. I feel out of control. So I think after reading this article , when I feel like a caged rat I will go for a walk to clear my mind and fit up spirits instead of eating. Thanks - 9/23/2012 11:39:06 AM