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Food and Feelings

Emotional eating


Emotional eating (a.k.a. comfort eating or head hunger) is a tendency to use food as a way of suppressing or coping with difficult emotions. Almost everybody eats to cope with emotions sometimes, however for some people this can be a very significant problem and impair quality of life. If you struggle with excessive emotional eating it is not your fault and it is in no way a personal failing or weakness; there are lots of factors that lead to emotional eating including evolution and our biology, our personal history and our environment. The links provided below provide some useful information about addressing emotional eating.

Emotional eating resources


HelpGuide: A guide to mental health and wellness
This website discusses how to break the cycle of emotional eating and gives more information about how emotional eating patterns can become established. There is useful information on how to tell the difference between physical hunger and ‘head’ hunger that can lead to emotional eating.

HealthLink BC
This Canadian website has useful practical tools for understanding and managing emotional eating.

Dr Tracey Marks: Emotional eating – how to recognise it
A five minute video outlining some techniques that can be useful in managing emotional eating.

Soothing rhythm breathing


We can bring a sense of soothing to our minds and bodies by simply focusing on and adjusting our breathing.

Bringing a soothing rhythm to our breathing allows our bodies to step away from the threat system and into our soothing system.

The following exercise leads you through this:

Click here to listen to the Soothing Rhythm Breathing exercise (male voice)

Click here to listen to the Soothing Rhythm Breathing exercise (female voice)


Mindful eating activity


Here is a mindful eating activity for you to try. It will take about 10 minutes.

You can try this with any piece of food you wish – some people choose prepared fruit or crackers or cheese or chocolate. It needs to be a small piece that you can hold in your hand, then chew. Try and find a quiet space with a chair that supports you well, where you are not going to be interrupted. You might like to listen to the recording first to get the idea of what you will be doing and then listen to it again with the food ready nearby.

Click here to listen to the mindful eating activity.