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Your Mood & Food – Beyond Emotional Eating

By July 19, 2017March 15th, 201952 Thoughts for the Chronic Dieter

In my last blog we talked about how emotional eating can be really harmful for your mindset and your waistline.

It was heartening to hear so many people getting back to me saying “this is exactly how I feel” (and it’s great when that happens, as it means the answers I have will really help too!)…

Some of you had some really good questions and comments, and there were a couple of recurring themes I think are be relevant to many of us 🙂

Theme 1: “I don’t know if I’m an emotional eater”

There are plenty of reasons why we overeat when we’re not hungry (e.g., out of habit, because we like the taste, or just because the food is there!) and sometimes emotional eating is tied in with these other non-hungry food cues, so it can be tricky to tease them apart.  Thank goodness, this one’s pretty easy to solve.  If you go to our Online Questionnaire we actually have a measure of emotional eating you can use to find out where you currently sit. When you complete the questionnaire it is this result here:

The questionnaire is the same one in the table in the my last blog so you can compare your score against that, but as a general guide below 40 for a woman and below 30 for a man is great (and anything else can benefit from a bit of work!)

Theme 2: “I’m not an emotional eater, but emotions drain my willpower”

This was a very common response as it’s a very common experience.  While this is not emotional eating per se, your emotions are still very much affecting your food choices through what we call dual-process dynamics.  Basically, we have two systems in our mind that are making our food choices at the same time*:  The Reflective System – which is deliberate, logical, and takes willpower (I think of this system as the Dr. Spock System), and the Impulsive System – which is fast, emotional, and habitual (I think of this as the Homer Simpson System).  When we feel emotional our reflective system is weakened and our impulsive system is strengthened, leading to poorer food choices!  Because dual-process dynamics powerfully affect our food choices, we address them in our Freedom From Emotional Eating program, and people certainly appreciate working through this often experienced – but seldom dealt with – way that mood effects food!

If you are wondering if your emotions may be affecting your food choices on top of emotional eating, you can go to these results on the questionnaire which measure your emotional wellbeing. As a general guide, being around or below the norm of 16.14 for women or 15.52 for men on the stress scale, or below 15 for women and men on the depressed and anxious moods scale is great (and, again, anything above can benefit from some extra work!)

You can also see this result, which measures the extent to which unpleasant emotions provide a barrier to regular exercise.  As a guide, people who score over 50 tend to be regular exercisers, whereas people scoring lower tend to exercise less regularly.

So hopefully you know a bit more about how your mood affects eating choices, over and above just emotional eating. We cover all of this and more in our upcoming program, and I’ll be sharing more about it in my next email…


For now, I want you to reflect on whether dual-process dynamics are effecting your eating (basically are intense, recurring, or persistent unpleasant feelings making healthy eating harder?), start to think what you may be able to do about it, and if you have any doubts about how it all applies to you, be sure to complete the questionnaire!

Thanks for taking the time to go through this all and talk soon guys!

Free yourself from Emotional Eating forever.

Find out about our online program Freedom from Emotional Eating


*For more on this, see Thursday Therapy 29 – “I know what to do I just can’t do it!

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