7 Tricks To Pinpoint Emotional Eating Patterns

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Start with the gut, use ‘afformations’ and reflect on your childhood to move forward positively.

From their work as therapists having worked with thousands of clients, Liz Hogon in Melbourne, Australia and Sally Baker in London have compiled seven top tips to help you focus, and overcome old patterns.

Change your behaviours and you can successfully resolve your emotional eating and lose your excess weight.

1: Develop your gut reaction

This technique encourages your natural intuition to develop so that you can learn to be more aware of how external events, or even your own moods, can affect emotional eating. Acquire for yourself the most attractive note-book you can. It is here you will commit to paper a note of everything you find encouraging as you lose weight, and any negative feelings, or situations you have found challenging.

2: Set your goal to make it happen
Goal setting is the primary step in making your intention to lose weight explicit, and clear to yourself. If you have a history of yo-yo dieting then you will most likely feel pessimistic about your ability to lose weight.

The secret weapon for focussing on successful weight loss is to visualise yourself at your goal weight as often as you can.

However, you are now absolutely committed to your successful weight loss so spend some time, and decide what weight you truly want to be. This should be a weight or size that excites you and fully captures your imagination. If you do not identify with a goal weight then choose your target dress size, or trouser waist measurement instead.

3: Make a Date
Once you’ve decided your goal weight/size this next step is often overlooked and it is a key focus for successful weight loss. You need to set a date. The international renowned life coach, Tony Robbins said, ‘A goal without a date is merely a dream.’

Here you are setting, and committing to successful weight loss so depending on how much weight you have to lose you may need to divide your goals into several smaller stages.

Give yourself a realistic weight loss target for the first week, month, even a year, or more for now. Choose events over dates as they are more tangible. Focus on imagining yourself clearly at the weight/size you desire for yourself to be next spring, or on your summer holiday, or next Christmas.

4: See it to believe it
The secret weapon for focussing on successful weight loss is to visualise yourself at your goal weight as often as you can. It’s important to send a clear intention of what you want to achieve to your subconscious mind so that it can work for you to lose weight.

If you have photographs of yourself previously at the weight you are now aiming for then refer to them regularly during your day. Affix them to the fridge door, or to the bathroom mirror, or keep them on your bedside table to look through before you go to sleep at night.

If you don’t have any photographs of yourself at your goal weight/size then use some pages of your notebook to hold pictures from magazines of people whose physical attributes you desire for yourself. This allows you to explore your emotions around being slimmer. You can also add some evocative lifestyle images to illustrate the benefits of being slimmer, and fitter such as physical activities you would enjoy.

5: Timeline your personal weight history
This helps you to observe those times in your life when your weight was in balance and those times when you were prone to emotional eating. Begin at your birth, and in your notebook write down any family legends from the time you were born.

  • Were you a premature or underweight baby that needed feeding up?
  • Or were you a chubby baby who always liked his/her food?

Reconnecting with family stories, especially if you are still able to speak with your parents or caregivers, builds a picture of the initial emotional connection to food made by the influential adults during your earliest years.

Progress through the years to the present time to see what key events have sparked episodes of emotional eating and inevitable weight gain?

Disempowering questions such as ‘Why do I emotionally eat?’ simply tell yourself that you can’t do anything right, and if you ask negative questions you can often get negative results.

For instance, recall your weight at milestones in your life such as when you started school; became an adolescent; moved house; while in relationships; or having experienced a bereavement. Use your timeline to discover your past patterns of emotional eating.

6: Why is losing weight so easy for me?
Affirmations (with an ‘i’) are statements we are told help us to feel more positive about ourselves. We have found they only work occasionally because often we are trying to convince our mind of something we may not really believe to be true.

Noah St John developed the concept of afformations (with an ‘o’) based on the theory that rather than telling our mind what we want it to believe, and then hoping that we can overcome any resistance we experience, we should ask a question so that our mind will automatically begin searching for an answer to the question.

To use afformations to focus on your weight loss goals make sure that you ask empowering questions — disempowering questions such as ‘Why do I emotionally eat?’ simply tell yourself that you can’t do anything right, and if you ask negative questions you can often get negative results.

So it is important to ensure that your afformations are always positive, and the results can be rewarding. After each afformation, repeat the word ‘Yes’ 10 times. Use the afformations often during the day, and you should start noticing a change within a week or so. Here are some examples of afformations for you to begin with.

  • ‘Why do I find it so easy to eat a healthy, balanced diet?’
  • ‘Why is it so easy to deal with my emotions without over-eating?’
  • ‘Why do I focus on losing my excess weight so successfully?’


7: Be your own best friend
Your inner voice runs a continuous internal dialogue commenting on everything you do and often makes judgments on how well you do it too. Happening as it does just below conscious awareness one’s inner voice goes unchecked, and unchallenged for most of the time.

For many people, their inner voice is rarely a source of uplifting encouragement. It is more likely to be an unremitting flow of self-criticism and negative self-judgments. Taking a few moments each day for a week or so to tune in, and clearly hear your inner voice is the crucial first step to silencing the draining, and often dispiriting stream of negativity that can lead to emotional eating.


Sally Baker and Liz Hogon have co-authored two books called ‘7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating’ and ‘How to feel differently about Food’ both published by Hammersmith Books, London and available on Amazon.

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