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By Lisa Shaker-Knopp (
As a health coach, talking to many clients each week, I hear a common thread among people; when the going gets tough, they EAT. Some of them call it stress eating, some call it eating for comfort, and others call it eating for relief. No matter what you call it, eating your emotions can become very dangerous for your health and weight control. Especially if you continue to do fad diets, lose weight quickly, but don’t learn to disassociate food and emotions. 
I find that when people are happy, they eat. When they are sad, they eat. When they feel anxious, they eat. Any emotion seems to make people want to eat. When I hear these weekly explanations of why they needed to cheat on their diet because of various reasons it makes me ask the same question, “did that make you feel better”? Usually the answer is yes and no. At first the food seems to make them feel better, then the guilt and self loathing comes in. That can often lead to a snowball effect that can keep a client down and sometimes pushes them out. 
As a person who has battled my weight forever, I can empathize with my clients who feel desperate. However, one of the reasons that I have finally been able to keep my weight under control and keep a good maintenance zone is because I have learned to eat for health and wellness, not for comfort or other emotions. When I feel emotional, I choose foods that make me feel well, not ones that bring me down. But, if I eat some “fun foods” or eat with wreck less abandon I own it, contain it, have no guilt because it was a choice I made, and move on. I do not let it unravel me. That has taken me years and years of practice but now it’s easy for me. The main thing is to make a decision not let food rule you, and for you to be your own ruler. You are in charge. FOOD does not change the emotion you are feeling. Using other coping mechanisms to deal with your life situations is the key to your overall health and weight control. 
Here are some of my coping mechanisms: 
  • Have healthy snacks available in the house, car and office.
  • Make foods that taste amazing, have flavor, but are not full of fat and calories. (
  • Write in a journal.
  • Do some exercise, go for a walk or take a yoga class. 
  • Meditate or pray.
  • Get a massage, facial, manicure or pedicure.
  • Call a friend. 


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