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How to Manage Emotional Eating. | Davey Wavey Fitness

How to Manage Emotional Eating.

Emotional eaters reach for food not when they’re hungry, but rather in reaction to what they’re feeling. Emotional eating may be triggered by sadness, anger, anxiousness or any other feeling – and food is used as the pacifier or cooping mechanism.

When we talk about reducing mindless snacking and controlling the amount of food we eat, it’s common to hear tips about hiding unhealthy foods or storing them outside of reach. And while these tips are helpful, they’re treating the symptoms and not the actual problem.

A new study by UCSF researchers, published online in the Journal of Obesity, looks at the relationship between mindful eating, stress reduction techniques and overeating. While the study was conducted only with women, I’m sure that men can learn from the findings as well.

The participants were divided into to groups. The first group was the control. The second group underwent a series of classes to help the women better manage their stress and understand their eating habits. The women learned meditation techniques and how to be more aware of their eating by recognizing bodily sensations like hunger, fullness and taste satisfaction.

Not only did the second group of women who received the training decrease their stress (researchers were able to measure drops in the stress hormone cortisol), but they also lost the most weight.

The lead researcher reported:

In this study we were trying to cultivate people’s ability to pay attention to their sensations of hunger, fullness and taste satisfaction as a guide for limiting how much they eat. We tried to reduce eating in response to emotions or external cues that typically drive overeating behavior.

She went on to note that additional research is still needed.

But this study does point to the importance of managing the triggers that lead to overeating – rather than just trying to reduce the eating itself. It’s certainly food for thought.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. Hi Davey! I’m really happy for you and grateful for your web presence in my life. I find the wisdom within your life affirming message unique even among people twice your age.

    This particular post resonated so much with me that I felt like a comment was warranted. As someone who has struggled with weight since I was 7 years old, “emotional eating” is only a small part of the hold “food” has on me. In fact, food is my “drug of choice” and the one I return to time and again after giving up harder substances and alcohol.

    For those of us so afflicted, mindfulness is rarely a long term solution. As you recognized in your post, it really treats the outward symptom…consumption…but does not treat the cause.

    For me, growing up gay at a time when it was not as popular, feeling like an outsider most of my life, uncomfortable in my own skin, rejected by my parents, never really accepted by my father, the food is what I turned to for comfort.

    But I am lucky, I entered recovery 10 years ago and as I peeled back the onion, I came to a 12-step recovery group called Overeaters Anonymous (OA for short). I have been working the program for 55 days now and I have lost 2 pant sizes. But weight loss is only the beginning. I have much healing to do inside. I am slowly, tentatively breaking out of my shell and embracing the world. What I have is available to everyone. It may help some of your readers too.

    Love and BIG HUGS,


  2. christopher says:

    on this emotional eating problem-it may also help to go through your kitchen and remove the unhealthy items you keep-just a thought.

  3. I am a self proclamed ‘galley rat’. Thanks for the post.

  4. Hey Davey, Nice tips! and Abs :))))


  5. Hey Davey, my friends sent me here. I was pleased by what I read, and what I saw too….:)


  6. Hello Davey – I understand that it is important to keep track of not only when you eat, but what triggers your eating bouts and why you chose the food or type of food and make a conscious effort to use that as a foundation to move forward.

    Thanks for a terrific post

    Lavelle :)>