Cope with your Emotions with Kindness: Principle 7 of Intuitive Eating
Feb 15, 20

Cope with your Emotions with Kindness: Principle 7 of Intuitive Eating

If you haven’t already, check out our post introducing Intuitive Eating and our most recent post on the sixth principle, Discover the Satisfaction Factor.


In short, NO! It’s impossible to separate emotions from eating. Food is one of the most basic comforts of life; something humans have used for centuries to celebrate good times and bring people together in hard times. Please take this as permission to never beat yourself up for “eating emotionally” again

We all have an emotional attachment to food. But, as with most things, there’s the possibility of taking it to the extreme. Eating purely for emotional gain, or to cope with emotions you’d rather avoid, is the start of muddy waters. The bottom line is that food will never solve the problem causing you emotional turmoil. At some point, you will have to address the root cause of your pain, sadness, anger, or guilt.

Without doing so, you will continue to cope by over- or under-eating – a pattern that will only cause you more issues in the long run. Dysfunctional eating patterns will catch up with you and you’ll now have two problems on your hands.

“First, recognize that food restriction, both physically and mentally, can, in and of itself, trigger loss of control, which can feel like emotional eating. Find kind ways to comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your issues. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger may only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion.”

  • Intuitive Eating Workbook, Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole


How often have you felt an uncomfortable feeling and immediately moved to distract, comfort, or ignore it? How often do you actually allow yourself to sit in that feeling and experience it fully? Whether that be crying, screaming in a pillow, or simply sitting quietly while it washes over you – are you in the habit of really feeling?

Many people who aren’t in this habit will eat to make them feel better. Food is delicious, reliable, and comforting, but again, it’s not a solution. Truly allowing yourself to feel is key to processing your emotions.

First, identify what it is you’re feeling. This might sound easy, but you might have a “go-to” emotion: regardless of whether you’re sad, frustrated, or stressed, it comes out as something else, like anger. 

Next, explore the root cause. Why are you feeling this way? Ask yourself now, what do I need in this moment? This could be time in solitude, a conversation, therapy, or a bit of laughter. And if eating something delicious sounds just right in this moment, then don’t sweat it. Eat it and enjoy it! Just make sure that you’re not using it as a bandaid.

“The tendency to eat emotionally could provide you with a strange gift. Any time that you find that you’re craving food when you’re not hungry (or wanting to restrict eating when your body needs nourishment), stop for a moment to appreciate that this urge is actually a voice from within. It’s letting you know that there is an emotion or a need that requires your attention.

Contemplate what this might be and tap into that well of wisdom from within – you will find the appropriate fit for this emotion or need.”

  • Intuitive Eating Workbook, Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole

Our next blog post will focus on the eighth principle of Intuitive Eating, Respect Your Body.