Put down the cooking chocolate. Here's five ways to stop the trap of emotional eating.


Have you ever locked yourself in your bedroom and consumed an entire packet of Tim Tams after a hard day’s work?

Looked down at the crumbs from your desk lunch, only to not remember eating it?

Or, scoffed multiple handfuls of Jatz biscuits at night time, then moved on to the cooking chocolate, and then that can of Milo that’s been in your cupboard for 10 years?

Yep. Chances are you’re an emotional eater. And you’re not alone.

In America, 38% of adults say that they overeat food because of stress. And here in Australia, research into stress and lifestyle has seen an increase in emotional eating, and what’s known as Binge Eating Disorder.

According to The Butterfly Foundation, it’s characteristics are:

  • Eating a very large amount of food within a relatively short period of time (e.g. within two hours)
  • Feeling a sense of loss of control while eating

And like emotional eating, binge eating often occurs at times of stress, anger, boredom or distress.

Sound familiar?

On the latest episode of The Well, self-confessed emotional eater Rebecca Sparrow shared some tips that she has been using in her day-to-day life that stops her from hiding in the pantry stuffing her mouth meaninglessly.

Listen to Bec talk about her relationship with food here:

Here are some small tips that Bec says may help, from the book Slim by Design; Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life.

1. Hide your snacks in an opaque jar.

If you’ve bought a packet of Arnott’s favourites and have them sitting in a glass jar on top of the microwave, chances are they won’t last long.


But if you stick them in an opaque jar, you are less likely to think about them.

Out of sight, out of mind.

And clear your work desk of snacks: people who have snacks in or on the desk reported weighing almost 7 kilograms more than those who don’t.

2. Display the good stuff.

Sure, it looks good. But does it make you feel better?

Clearing your countertops of biscuits or cereals, and putting fruit and veggies on display can lead to you eating three times more fruits and vegetables.  Put those high-calorie foods in places that are hard to get at, and not eye-level.

3. Find another way to reward yourself.

Instead of rewarding yourself with a two-scoop of Messina, put on some music and have a dance around the house. Take a bath. Watch a trashy reality TV show. Call a friend and catch up: it's rude to eat on the phone, so you won't.

4. Meditate.

Avoid the chocolate, and maybe try to meditate.

We don’t mean for an hour. Or even 30 minutes. Take a few minutes out of your day to help remove stress. It might be listening to a short meditation (Meshel Laurie has great one minute sessions), or going for a walk around the block. It could be your own kind of meditation: fold laundry to keep your hands busy, colour in, do a puzzle, put a podcast in and listen to someone talking about something interesting.

5. Brush your teeth.

Nothing tastes as good as a minty mouth. Why would you want to spoil that?

Listen to the full episode of The Well here:

Do you have any other tips?

If you want to find out more information about Binge Eating Disorder, click here.

If you find yourself emotionally eating more often than not, contact the Butterfly Foundation's National Helpline on 1800 33 4673