How to Break Emotional Eating Habits

How to Break Emotional Eating Habits
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How we feel can sometimes sabotage all our hard work in the gym, and especially in nutrition plans. Our emotions good and bad can often build bad habits of binge eating, or deviating from our plans. In fact, you might not even realize how much they are affecting your eating habits.

Take me for instance. I am definitely an emotional eater. I eat the worst food when I’m worried, stressed, and especially when I’m mad or sad. These emotions are normal and common in all of us. Life can be stressful, one minute you could feel on top of the world and the next you could be overwhelmingly sad. This is both a gift and a curse. I’m an emotional people person, and I often let how I feel play too big of a part in what I eat. The good news is we can break bad habits, and be more aware of our emotions while eating.

Let me give a little disclaimer first. I follow the Paleo and Zone Diet, however I often morph it into my own version depending on CrossFit workouts and my schedule. This blog is not meant specifically for people following the Paleo diet. The suggestions and advice can be applied to to any diet or food plan.

emotional eatingNutritional Moments of Weakness

As a CrossFit coach, I swear it is like “Food Confessional” during class. People admit what they have or haven’t eaten, how they steered clear of the candy aisle, but fell into a Pizza Coma the night before. Now it’s time for my confession, I am easily tempted by ice-cream, pizza, mexican food, and the yummy goodness of Pasta. I love food, and I have learned that I use food to cope with emotional issues. When I’m upset and sad, I don’t even blink while wolfing down a bowl of ice-cream. Only feeling guilt and ashamed after the bowl is empty and in the sink. Over the past 3 years I have learned how to manage my emotional eating and bad habits, and the truth is when I’m happy I eat as good as a professional athlete, and when I eat good I feel good. But this wasn’t something I learned quickly, it took me a long time to decipher why I ate like I did and how I could change.


A Tool to Find Out Why You Eat What You Eat…

From this journey one of the best habits I have ever practiced is writing a food journal. Not just the simple this is what I had for breakfast lunch, and dinner type of journal, no. This is more sophisticated and affective. Instead of keeping it basic, venture out to the emotional arena. Write down how you felt before you ate what you did. Were you sad, upset, frustrated? Or were you happy, and celebrating.

Writing down what you eat and the related feelings you felt can reveal why you might be splurging on hamburgers and candy. I follow this simple format for my food journals:


Meal of the day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack.)

Food choices: broccoli, grilled chicken, etc..

Feelings: Sad, lonely, excited, happy, frustrated…


By forcing yourself to choose one word that explains how your feeling will help you tap into the reasoning behind your eating, and help you think before you eat. Before you take a bite, ask yourself ” Am I hungry, or…”

How Can This Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals?

Many people have been told that keeping a food journal is the best way to lose weight and reach fitness goals, and it works. So why not take it a bit further and commit whole heartedly into a lifestyle that will benefit you, your family, your children, and the people around you.

Be happy. Eat Healthy.
Eat Healthy. Be Happy.


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A little more about Natasha Hawkins...

Experience: Division 1 Fastpitch Softball player at San Jose State. Degree: B.S in Marketing and Advertising Certifications: Certified Level 1 CrossFit Trainer Interests: She loves the way the brain works and how personalities and attitude can create a warrior of an athlete that will always persevere and make success for themselves. While she is not a certified nutritionist she studies and practices the Paleo diet and Zone eating. Quirk: I am an avid archer and hunter. Yup, it's true. I have shot archery since I could walk, and hunted with my Dad since I was born. I also have a sister (Cheridan Hawkins) who is a stud pitcher for the Oregon Ducks Softball Team and is on the Junior Olympic Team. My youngest sister Charli Hawkins trains with me at CrossFit and is also a catcher on the 12U California Grapettes. Follow Natasha on Twitter: @NatashaBHawkins