52 Ways To Comfort Yourself Without Eating

Emotional Eating: collage of distressed woman and chocolate

Filed Under: Emotional Eating

19 October 2016 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

How often have you found yourself at the bottom of a packet of Doritos or a jar of Nutella at the end of hectic day?

Comfort eating is an automatic behaviour for many of us. Studies show that eating when we are feeling emotional releases “feel good” chemicals in the brain. As human beings, we are wired to avoid any form of pain (whether it be physical or emotional) and to seek pleasure. This pleasure can be in the form of many things: shopping, alcohol, drugs, sex, Facebook. For many of us the easiest way to soothe ourselves is through food because it is so readily accessible.

When working with clients, I look at the kinds of situations that trigger us to overeat and we look at alternatives to eating. Of course, sometimes the only thing we want to do is eat and that’s perfectly okay – just do it mindfully. Emotional eating does not need to be emotional OVEReating. Read more about how to eat emotionally in a mindful way, here.

Together, with my clients, we have created a list of things that we can do instead of eat. So if you choose not to eat when you are feeling bad, here is a list to choose from!

  1. Call a friend who will listen
  2. Play with your dog or pet
  3. Find a soothing object – soft jersey, blankie
  4. Vent in a journal or vent to the chair
  5. Do a Mindfulness Body Scan
  6. Do a meditation
  7. Breathe …. take 5 deep breaths in, hold for 5 and breathe out slowly for 10 (watch this video)
    … or do square breathing (watch this video)
  8. Go for a walk
  9. Go into the garden
  10. Create a playlist or listen to music
  11. Do a puzzle
  12. Play cards or solitaire
  13. Create a vision board
  14. Connect virtually with others in support groups
  15. Play with worry beads
  16. Plan a holiday
  17. Plan a party
  18. Do some gardening or plant a herb garden
  19. Watch some TED talks
  20. Do a free online course
  21. Do embroidery , suddoko, a crossword, knit, sew
  22. Doodle
  23. Paint or sketch
  24. Squeeze bubble wrap – one of my favourites!
  25. Soak in the bath with Epsom salts and candles – cheesy, I know, but it works!
  26. Do 3 yoga poses
  27. Make yourself a cup of herbal tea
  28. Make a gratitude list or write a list of what is NOT wrong
  29. Check out Pinterest
  30. Clean out cupboards, drawers
  31. Netflix….
  32. Dance like nobody’s watching
  33. Scrapbook
  34. Organise your old photos or create a photo album
  35. Read a magazine
  36. Breathe again…..
  37. Rearrange a room
  38. Organise your books
  39. Write a handwritten letter
  40. Bake or cook something and give it to the homeless
  41. Next time you are at a toy shop buy bubbles and blow bubbles – another favourite of mine!
  42. Google an interesting topic
  43. Go into nature
  44. Get a mindfulness colouring-in book
  45. Visit a nursery
  46. Go to the movies
  47. Change into comfy, soft clothes and curl under a blanket
  48. Listen to a podcast or the radio
  49. Switch off all the lights and light candles
  50. Go look at the stars or the clouds
  51. Think of past happy moments
  52. Plan a career change

If none of these activities appeal to you and you choose not to eat, then the solution is to actually feel the emotion. The reason we eat emotionally is to escape and distract ourselves from the difficult emotion.

I’ll talk more on how to do this in my next blog…

“From our first meeting - two faces on Zoom across the world from each other, there was a sense of familiarity and comfort that was a healing balm for a lifetime of food struggles and dieting. Without realizing how much damage I had done to myself by adhering, for decades, to restrictive food plans and rigid diet programs, Xen had a way of redirecting the harsh and negative self-talk and sending me forth each week with compassion, mindfulness and a new way of seeing myself in the here and now. Gone are the maybe somedays, and if-only, and when-I’m-smaller thinking. Now I am committed to the imperfect and rocky path to listening to my body, accepting my perfect imperfections, and rejecting diet mentality. Those negative voices will revisit me from time to time, I know, but Xen has offered valuable tools for meeting each day as a fresh start - another choice, another chance. Her devotion to this work and her belief in her clients is a remarkable gift; I am so fortunate to have found her. It is never too late to let go of the drama and embrace joy, ease and self-acceptance.”

Karen L, Denver, USA

“I felt hopeless and helpless in my daily struggle with mindless eating for many years. Then I found Xen which is exactly what I needed! My decision to work with her helped me to finally repair my relationship with food. It's changing my life for the better, one day at a time. Now I have control over the food, instead of it having control over me, which is the way it should be. I highly recommend Xen to anyone who has a desire to overcome similar food struggles. Xen, thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

Karen J, Colorado, USA

“I reached out to Xenia because 2021 started on a tumultuous note for me. Between deaths, businesses suffering, hospitalizations, and job losses in our personal circle, I felt depleted and found myself being available for everyone but myself. Then I was hit with an unexpected health diagnosis, which was the last straw as it meant giving up “healthy foods” and workouts that I leaned on for my well-being and stability. Despite working in wellness (Yes, coaches and healers are vulnerable too!), I found myself reaching out to desserts for comfort. I like to live a life of permissions (not labels or deprivation leading to bingeing), so I wanted to work with someone who approached healing from a place of mindful compassion. I didn’t want to be my own client. Xenia was great in reminding me to be kind to myself. Working with her, brought me peace and helped shift my mindset. I love how desserts and I look at each other now.”

Sweta Vikram, New York, USA

“Working with Xenia was amazing. She armed me with a bunch of tools to help me through difficult times. Xenia is the kind of person who really cares for helping you in the long run. Her work will forever have an impact in my life.”

Daniela Velásquez, Ottawa, Canada

“Working with Xen was a game changer for me. After working together for a few months my relationship with food radically changed. I no longer felt like a failure. I now have the tools to nourish my body with foods that feel good in my body. I don’t feel guilty about eating cake or chocolate, I also don’t overeat cake and chocolate. I no longer feel the need to exercise to compensate for my eating. I feel much more free around eating and I am more accepting of my body. Xen has a nonjudgmental and compassionate approach to coaching and really supports you in the process.”

Rachel, Dublin, Ireland

“Working with Xen has been very empowering. Her approach is so refreshing from the usual. I have learned that I am in charge and that I get to choose what I put in my body and how to move my body in a way that I like! I get to make my own choices. It’s so liberating. Once you get a taste of freedom with food, there is no turning back to old ways! Thanks Xen for guiding me along the way to freedom.”

Heather B, Cork. Ireland

“This is the answer for those of you that struggle with food and all that surrounds it. Xenia said that I could make peace with food and it seemed at the time like an impossible dream. Turns out it isn’t. I recommend Xen and the mindful eating / intuitive eating approach unreservedly. If you have any questions about my experience, please get in touch. Thank you Xen. My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”

Michelle, Johannesburg, South Africa

“Xenia was a walking, living, breathing example of what can be done. I laughed and cried my way through a short course in this fascinating and invigorating programme with her, and have gained a designer tote full of coping skills that go way beyond containing kilogrammes. I feel infinitely lighter. I am doing this for me and, yes, you can do this for you too! And believe me, I’m cynical!”

Diana, Vancouver, Canada

“I don’t obsess about food like I used to. I am thinking differently about food and feeling so much more relaxed around all types of food. It’s wonderful to have pleasure and satisfaction from eating.”

Sarah, Illinois, USA

“I learned a new way of thinking about food. I have learned that food is not the enemy and that it can actually be enjoyed with no guilt.”

Sandy, London, United Kingdom

Certified by The Life Coach School Certified and Trained by The Original Intuitive Eating Pro Professional Member of The Center for Mindful Eating