I always thought Emotional Eating was WRONG and something BAD, but it’s actually OK. It’s perfectly ok to eat when you are not hungry for emotional reasons as long as you are aware you are doing it and you choose to do it. It can become a problem if it’s something you are doing all the time and it’s your only coping mechanism for strong emotions.
It can be tough to feel all of the feels 24/7 and sometimes you do need a distraction, but know that it doesn’t always have to be eating and you can find other tools to help you get through tough feelings.
Ultimately know that food won’t solve the real problem and the underlying need that needs to be met. There are a lot of other ways to meet your needs without eating that will probably feel better in the long run.
The first step is bringing awareness to how you are using food in your life and notice, without judgement, if you are eating when you are not hungry and what’s going on for you in those situations.
Something else that has helped me greatly is to know that having negative emotions is OK and it’s unrealistic to be happy all of the time and you need that balance of positive and negative emotions. I love the way Brooke Castillo explains the 50/50 balance of emotions on her podcast “The Life Coach School”. https://thelifecoachschool.com/podcast/188/
If you are prone to binge eating, that can be a sign that your life is too tightly controlled and binging is your only way to let go. If you are too busy and overwhelmed, eating might be the only way you are allowing yourself to take a break. If you are tired, then eating might be giving you energy. You might eat when you are bored to give yourself something to do.
You can learn new ways of coping and here are some suggestions from Intituive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch:
Journal your feelings
Talk to someone: a friend, a therapist
Get some rest
Spend some time alone/outdoors
Go for a walk
Watch a funny movie
Listen to music
Move your body
Here’s a really good list of figuring out what you might need: https://www.cnvc.org/training/resource/needs-inventory
If you do decide that you want to eat, then sit down and be present with your food. Accept and know that you are eating to distract yourself from some emotion and then move on afterwards without guilt or shame around it.