Health & Wellness Articles

Take Action Against Emotional Eating

Regain Control With Exercise

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Rely on others
What does food provide when you’re emotional? For most, it’s comfort. Why not turn to a friend or family member instead for that comfort? If you’re worried they won’t have time for you, that’s where fitness comes into play. Exercising with a fitness buddy or a group when stress and emotions hit benefits everyone. You are able to share your time and your feelings with someone you trust. Perhaps they have some great advice for you, or you may think of a better way to handle the issue just by saying it out-loud.

Plus, with this strategy, everyone receives the benefits of working out. It’s a win-win situation for you and your fitness buddy!

Comfort exercises
When emotions hit, some of us open the fridge and find our favorite foods to console us. Think about some exercises that you find comforting instead.  "Comfort exercises" are your favorites, the ones you always enjoy. They should be activities you look at as FUN, not as work.

You can have a different comfort exercise for each season (running in the winter, yard work in the summer) or for different times of day (push-ups in the morning, stretching in the evening). You can have several comfort exercises, or just one. Discover what exercises you truly enjoy, ones you look forward to, and lean on them when your emotions strike.

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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 completely agree that exercise can be a tool in managing stress and anxiety which often leads us to overeat, but moderation and context is important and it isn't the only way of lessening anxiety. Binge eating followed by compulsive exercise may help in regulating weight, but it does not solve the problem. Meditation, yoga, connecting with a friend, going for a walk in the woods...these are also effective ways of managing the anxiety that leads us to use food as a tranquiliser. As long as the exercise isn't compulsive or compensatory it can be a great tool for stress reduction, but it isn't the only one. - 8/6/2014 10:13:59 PM
  • I really like the idea of comfort exercises! I need to put my thinking cap on and figure out what that means for me. - 5/7/2014 10:46:50 AM
  • COPSCOBLR
    Awesome n helpful - 5/7/2014 4:58:44 AM
  • 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

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