In Defense of Emotional Eating

Emotional Eating is …. bad, right? Even throughout all of my diet-dogma-busting, and coming to realize that sugar, carbs, fatdairy, gluten, and calories were not the real enemies, it left me assuming that “Emotional Eating” was then the default problem. If food isn’t inherently bad, then why do people run into problems with it? Why do people get fat or have health problems? Abusing Food…. Right? “Emotional Eating”????

I definitely can get into a state of being uncomfortable or jumpy, and that  will sometimes lead to eating on autopilot- (which is different and less intense than my past denial/hunger binges). And eating on autopilot- as opposed to mindful slow, pleasure filled eating- isn’t exactly great or the most joyful….. so…that is what they mean, right? That is “emotional eating”? But after reading a quote by Gwenyth Olwyn, I think the term emotional eating needs to be redefined.

I think the problem is abusing food. And abusing food can be restrictive or it can be excess- as a way for control , or numbness, or escape. And the only way to get over that is awareness, bravery: learning to feel your feelings, and consistently letting yourself eat whatever the hell you want (which is paramount) Other than that, you must emotionally eat.

Let me repeat: You must emotionally eat. Eating is not a logical game. Eating is an emotional game, an intuitive and gut-led practice, an “I-can’t-explain-why-I-crave-tuna-right-now” (or brownies, or crackers). You cannot rationalize everything you eat. You cannot eat in a bubble. You cannot only eat when you are completely emotionally neutral. You cannot only eat things because they are “the best and healthiest foods”. Because that is disordered eating. That is where we ran into trouble before, because that is where we start striving for perfection where perfection doesn’t exist.

Our best bet at wholesome, healthy, delicious, pleasure-filled eating is to eat from your emotions. To eat from your heart, and gut, and from the inkling that you have, and the sense that you need some pineapple but you will never be able to prove exactly why. That is why cravings shouldn’t be fought.

“We cannot eat logically. Our logical minds are too late to the evolutionary party, by millennia, to actually offer any value to how we pursue and stay optimally energized.How you feel about your food is how you not only survive, but also thrive.-Gwenyth Olwyn in her post Bingeing is Not Bingeing

If you are stuffing yourself to a painful point often, or bingeing every night… you are probably still not letting yourself be free enough with food. There probably is a bit of restriction in the back of your head. A fear that next week or next month there may be another diet. Overeating naturally tapers off the longer your allow yourself to eat whatever you want. In time your body’s needs taper off and your restricted mind’s needs taper off. Be patient, and eat freely, and nourishingly…. and even….emotionally. Food is still not the problem!


  1. Carolyn says:

    Another kick-ass post. I like to read “Psychology of Eating” posts/blog. It sounds a lot like what you’re talking about here. You rock.

  2. Jessi says:

    Thank you so much. Even though I’m trying to intuitive eat, I’m trying to do it healthily, which means I’m still restricting a bit. And I wondered why I’m still having binging urges, if I’m eating when I’m hungry! Fuck it! “I feel like it” is a GREAT reason to eat.

  3. hybrid756 says:


    I’ve been a longish-time lurker on your blog, and I loved the way you approached this! I hear SO much about how to “combat cravings”… Seriously, who wants to waste their energy on that? If you want to eat nothing but junk all day, fair enough, take a look at why that is. But, my biggest cravings are for 2 things: salmon & roasted veg. Occasionally steak. Sometimes donuts. Often cucumber. I started “giving in” to my cravings nearly 3 months ago and have not eaten a pizza since. It’s weird! And I love it 😀

    I hope you don’t mind me posting this here, but it just details a few (ok a lot of) thoughts I had recently along exactly the same lines as this post, and I wanted to share it. Just because, you know… I think I get it 🙂

    I say the easiest way to get rid of cravings is to eat whatever it is that you want 😉

  4. Grace says:

    “You cannot only eat things because they are “the best and healthiest foods”. Because that is disordered eating. That is where we ran into trouble before, because that is where we start striving for perfection where perfection doesn’t exist.” < This right here is my biggest problem….and the fact that I know the calorie counts of EVERYTHING (thats what holds me stuck in my EDNOS)

    You are 100% correct. And for me everything sounds so simple and easy…yet, it so hard, like the above poster said :/

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