By Paige Green, Hy-Vee Dietitian on Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Leave your emotions to your valentine, not your food

Hy-Vee Dietitian Paige Green discusses how to feel the love and feed your cravings:

If you struggle with emotional eating, overeating, or food in general, Valentine’s Day may seem like the ultimate challenge.

Chocolate. Is. Everywhere!

Everyone gets cravings, but if you’re trying to make healthier choices or take back control of those impulses, it can be a tough obstacle to overcome. Most people think emotional eating is due to a lack of self-control, however, that’s rarely the case.


Here are some tips to overcome emotional eating:

Be aware at your meals

Are you being conscious of what, or more importantly, why you are eating? Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the entire experience of eating. Are you picking at your food when you thought you were done? Do you keep digging your hand in that bag of chips only because you are bored?

The solution: Remain in touch with your body as you eat (or before you head to the kitchen for something to eat while bored at night). Are you eating because it’s true hunger, or grabbing something to fill a void? If it’s the latter, grab a large glass of water and do something productive. You’ll thank yourself later.

RELATED: How to ditch the diet in 2019

Food is your only pleasure

Do you turn to eating after a long day, tough conversation or stressful project? Most people who struggle with emotional eating would say they have nothing to look forward if food wasn’t there waiting for them at home. A large bowl of ice cream can be effective in temporarily soothing our hard-working selves. But why? Studies have shown that eating high sugar or high fat foods releases feel good hormones in our brains, so the calming effects you feel when eating junk food are real (and breaking these habits can be like kicking an addition).

The solution: Find other ways to reward or soothe yourself besides food. Take a bubble bath, call a friend, get a pedicure, or simply go the bed early.  

RECIPE: Satisfy your sweet tooth with these healthy truffles

Inability to tolerate difficult feelings

Wouldn’t life be easier if we could all avoid the things that made us feel rotten? Unfortunately, the ways we find to distract ourselves from these difficult feelings aren’t always in our best interests. Without the ability to tolerate life’s hard times, you are more susceptible to emotional eating.

The solution: Allow yourself to feel the bad feelings, just like you feel the good. No one likes to feel mad, rejected, or bored, but dealing with these issues will hopefully help you cut out the behaviors you associate with them (like devouring a whole package of cookies).     

RELATED: How to combat seasonal depression disorder

Replace hate with love when talking about your body

It may seem backwards, but hating our body is one of the biggest factors with emotional eating. Hatred, negativity, and shame rarely inspired people to make a long-lasting change, especially when we want to lose weight.

The solution: Stop saying you’ll love your body after your lose the weight. Start loving your body now and see how much you accomplish.

paige greenPaige Green received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management at the University of Northern Iowa in 2012. She pursued her passion for nutrition at Iowa State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics during the spring of 2015. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Paige truly sets out to educate individuals on finding a healthy balance in life and her passion for people and nutrition inspires clients of all ages. You can find Paige at the North Ames Hy-Vee.