6 ways to avoid emotional eating during the holidays

At this time of year I am receiving lots of questions about ways you can avoid overeating during the holidays! Between shopping, cooking, baking, cleaning, traveling and being social - this festive time of year can make all your hard work over the last few months come unstuck. It is so easy to turn to food for comfort or to relieve some of the stress but luckily for you there is another way!

Emotional eating

Emotional eating is a cheap way to deal with feelings. Think of it as a version of therapy. It is comforting and gives us those feel good emotions. A little preparation can go a long way when trying to get a handle on your emotional eating. You can be sure not to pack on those extra pounds or develop other serious health concerns that can happen as a result of emotional eating.

You are not alone when it comes to turning to food to cope with your emotions and it is time we talk about 6 ways to avoid emotional eating during the holidays.

Let’s have a look at what these solutions are:

DUNNEBELLS - Emotional Eating.jpg
  1. Enjoy foods in moderation

    You are the person who decides what and how much you eat. Nobody else. Load up your plate with vegetables and greens FIRST and then add everything else. Slow down and enjoy your favourite foods. You do not have to give up your favourite foods, simply enjoy them in moderation.

  2. Get right back on track

    If you have an episode where you emotionally eat, that is okay. While I was working on overcoming my binge eating disorder (more on my story in this video), one of the biggest lessons I learned was how to rid the guilt and get right back on track. Over time, this was what was really helpful. Just because I had a bad day of eating didn’t mean I couldn’t start my next morning with a healthy meal and a workout. Think progress not perfection and if you keep working on your goals consistently you WILL get there.

  3. Sit down and CHEW your food

    Remove distractions like TV when eating food and pay attention to how your body is feeling. Often we overeat and emotional eat when we are distracted and just stuffing our face. Eating after 9pm (or any other late time) is one of those fitness myths, I wrote about 6 fitness myths busted recently and highly recommend checking it out because it doesn’t matter when you eat as long as you are taking the time to eat and chew your food, really savour each bite. When you become mindful of the eating experience the food will taste better and send those “full” feelings to your brain which will help you when trying to avoid emotional eating.

  4. Get support

    Getting support. This is the #1 thing I recommend when trying to overcome an eating disorder or deal with emotional eating especially during the holidays. This doesn’t mean you have to check yourself into a support group for binge eating or emotional eating. Maybe, someone to talk to when you are having a down day or struggling with your relationship to food is all you need! It is important that the support is from someone who truly understands, ideally someone who has been through the struggles of emotional eating so that the advice and support they offer is going to work vs. someone who just doesn’t get it.

  5. Practice self compassion

    Okay so let’s be real. It is the holidays. You are probably going to over eat. You have to live and you can’t isolate yourself just to try and not emotionally eat. What you can control is how you talk to yourself and how you feel before, during and after any sort of emotional eating episodes. We tend to be SO hard on yourself so my best piece of advice is talk to yourself as if you were talking to your best friend.

    What would you say to her if she told you “I had a huge overeating episode last night and am feeling like I undid all my hard work and I feel so much guilt right now” You would be supportive and kind and probably tell her it is okay and to just keep moving forward and to try her very best not to do it again right? So, take some of your own advice and be kind to yourself. Practice self compassion. You got this.

6. Ask for help

I know, you don’t want to admit you may have a problem with eating too much or emotional eating. For years during my binge eating I didn’t want to either. However, talking to your doctor (or someone you trust) could be the very thing you need to get you on that path to recovery. Some things to think about:

How does food make you feel?

Do you sometimes eat too much?

Do you feel guilty after eating food?

Do you sometimes feel controlled by food?

Do you eat in secrecy?

These questions can be an easy place to start when talking to someone you trust. Take the first brave step if you feel like you struggle with emotional eating. I promise you, you won’t regret it.


It is very important to pay attention to what you eat. This time of year can be very sad for some. Turning to food is definitely not the answer to long term happiness. In 2018, it is time you take it to the next level and try your best to be present. Focus on spending quality time with people and worry less about food. Enjoy the festive meals, but don’t allow any guilt to follow you.

At the end of the day, as someone who lost over 65 lbs I know what it feels like to want to stay on track during the holidays. If you want to lose weight, develop that toned look and increase your energy following a flexible macro diet and a customized fitness program with the support of an online personal trainer would be the #1 thing I recommend doing. You WILL see results like 100’s of my clients around the world who take part in the 8-week program.

Stay strong. Be the fire.


If you haven’t signed up for my Facebook group yet, you can sign up here.