Principle 7: Cope with your emotions without using food

Welcome to day 7 of the IE Principles & Practice series! ⁣


Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract, & resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, & 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 into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion.⁣

  • Remember: We all eat for comfort from time to time. That does not make you a failure, it’s part of normal eating. The purpose of this principle is to help you expand your toolbox of coping mechanisms to help you better care for mind, body, & spirit in sustainable and effective ways.


Reawakening your inner Intuitive Eater means that you are more connected and aware of your feelings—recognizing them is the first step!⁣

🌞You can do the following exercise now, or the next time your are feeling an intense emotion (when they are a little easier to identify). I invite you to pause and ask:

  • What am I feeling right now? (Use the Emotional Word Wheel in graphic-3 to help get clarity). Perhaps you are feeling calm, happy, peaceful, or stressed? Or maybe you are feeling wary, irritable, delighted, or sad?
  • What is the quality of the emotion that you are experiencing: pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral? •Where in your body do you feel the sensation from your emotion? ⁣

🌞When you find yourself turning toward food in order to self-soothe or distract, ask yourself 2 questions:⁣

  1. What am I feeling, right now?⁣
  2. What do I need, right now, that relates to my feeling? (It’s okay, if you don’t know, but it’s important to ask. In time you’ll get clarity). How might you meet that need in a compassionate, effective way?⁣

🌞Reflect on your favorite ways to self-nurture. Perhaps it’s asking for hugs, playing with pets, meditating, reading, or taking a walk in nature? How often do you allow time for these activities? ⁣

Please share your experiences & insights!

Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN

Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN is an award-winning registered dietitian, with a nutrition counseling practice in Newport Beach, California. She has written nine books including the bestsellers Healthy Homestyle Cooking and Intuitive Eating(co-author). Her newest book is the Intuitive Eating Workbook:Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food.


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