How to overcome emotional eating and snacking

ION college food as fuel

It’s never been more important to eat a balanced diet and support your physical and mental wellbeing. We spoke to nutritional therapist Jenny Tschiesche, graduate from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION), about overcoming eating triggered by boredom or emotion.

Tell us, what causes boredom snacking and emotional eating?

“Many of us experience cravings or pangs for food we do not need. For many, the hunger for food is actually a need to fill the boredom gap or a need for distraction. Furthermore, a lack of daylight can mean a lack of vitamin D – that, associated with stress at this time, means we tend to want to eat sweet foods as a quick fix for low mood and low blood sugar.”

What tips do you have for overcoming boredom snacking and emotional eating?

“The best way to address this is to eat proper meals and to stick to meal times. Try to focus meals on good quality proteins such as tinned fish, eggs, tofu, legumes and lots of vegetables – either fresh, frozen or from tins if needs be. These protein-based meals will keep you fuller for longer. Furthermore, there are particular foods that can help boost levels of the happy hormone serotonin, such as fish, nuts, dark green vegetables, seeds, oats, yoghurt, eggs and poultry. Try and ensure you are eating these foods regularly too.

“If you do feel like snacking then ask yourself if you are ‘mouth hungry’ or ‘stomach hungry’. Mouth hungry is likely to be boredom hunger. Stomach hungry is based on a physical need for food. If you could eat a chicken breast and vegetables or a salad with hummus or cheese right now, then that’s more likely to be stomach hunger. If you could eat a couple of biscuits or a bag of crisps, that’s more likely to be mouth hunger.

“Address the mouth hunger with movement and water; get up and stretch; move around the house a little and remember to think ‘thirst first’. Drink some water or even a cup of tea and see whether the hunger is genuine after 10-20 minutes.”

A free bite-sized video series that might benefit you:

IOn college nutrition - thrive magazine
Food as Fuel: get ready to eat your way to better health – sign up now >>

What we eat has a huge impact on how we feel – both physically and emotionally. But how do we cut through the confusion about what and how we should eat?

Current challenges make it even more important to eat a balanced diet to support your physical and mental wellbeing. Our Food as Fuel free bite-sized video series has been designed as the first step in helping you take control of your health through understanding the impact of good nutrition, enabling you to feel energised and make the right decisions about the food you choose, despite any changes to your routine.

Discover small changes which make a lasting impact, and optimise your wellbeing in changing times.

The series is brought to you by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition – supporting the public in achieving optimum health through nutrition for over 35 years and showing that good nutrition education for all is vitally important and easily digestible.

Food as Fuel - Free Video Series

To access the free 8 episode video series – cutting through the myths and false information about nutrition – click here to sign up to the series: