Comfort Eating: Change the Habit By Changing Your Beliefs | TMOHP 018

Comfort eating is one of the most challenging types of overeating. It can be a difficult habit to break, in part because our need for comfort tends to show up most strongly when we’re feeling down or tired or vulnerable in some way.

You won’t be surprised to hear that willpower isn’t the antidote to comfort eating, but I bet you still feel the urge to clamp down on your comfort eating, or “be stronger” and resist it. Those old deprivation-based, diet-mentality habits can be so ingrained (and unhelpful)!

You might be surprised to learn that your beliefs are where the power to end comfort eating lies.

Check out this episode of the podcast to learn specifically what you can start doing today to deflate the pull of comfort eating in your life.

I’ve also got a free cheat sheet for you in the show notes - don’t forget to download it!

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Why your beliefs about comfort eating are so powerful
  • How to use your beliefs to break cycles with comfort eating
  • The “Widening the Lens” technique for challenging beliefs that aren’t serving you

Featured on the show:

  • Download your free cheat sheet: 30 Ways To Soothe Without Food

When you register, you'll be added to our mailing list.  We may collect, use and process your data according to our Privacy Policy

  • Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz and find out your primary Hidden Hunger and your best place to start shifting your relationship with food.
  • I cover the process of embracing your power and the other three steps to creating freedom from overeating in The 4-step Plan to Stop Overeating and Emotional Eating (a free on-demand masterclass) it’s available here. This will also give you a great introduction to my group coaching program.
  • Visit for more tips and resources to create peace with food and overcome overeating and emotional eating

Episode Transcript

Hello everybody. Today I’m going to talk about comfort eating. Comfort eating is probably one of the types of eating that I get the most questions about and that I hear the most frustration about. Comfort eating is probably one of the most common types of emotional eating, that eating we do when we're trying to take care of ourselves, when we're trying to deal with an emotion or squash an emotion, or just plain feel better. 

Comfort eating is a habit that's really hard to break because we believe it gives us comfort. Now notice I said we believe. 

It's a belief or a thought that can be so strong and so powerful, that we forget it’s a thought and mistake it for a fact. Stay with me on this.

It’s also important to acknowledge that the urge to comfort eat usually shows up when our capacity to do something else is pretty low. The urge to comfort eat usually shows up when things like our willpower and our resolve and our determination, or even caring to do something different, all those things are at pretty low levels because of whatever is going on that has left us depleted and in need of comfort or soothing or the kind of care that we believe comfort eating will give us.

The urge to comfort eat can be very powerful and it tends to hit us at very vulnerable times. 

Here’s where everything can change though.

I want you to think about this, though. Comfort eating is fueled by the belief that what you are going to do once you reach into that cupboard or fill your bowl with popcorn or sit down on the couch with that bowl of ice cream, will be comforting. You have a belief that that thing that you are about to do, that eating, that comfort eating is going to comfort you. Today I am going to ask you to examine and challenge that belief.

Your belief that comfort eating comforts you  is very likely the thing that is keeping you caught in a comfort eating cycle. And it’s not the whole story.

Here's the thing. I've seen it for myself and I've seen it for hundreds of clients that I've worked with. When we really dissect the process of comfort eating, and how it makes us feel, and the results, not just over the next 30 seconds or five minutes, but over the next several hours, 24 hours, few days, what plays out over and over and over again is that it's a myth. A false belief.

Comfort eating isn't comforting. 

I know, you've seen the studies. There is research that eating can release neurochemicals that makes us feel better or happy or soothed. There are ways that eating allow us to numb ourselves or squash down the things that we're not wanting to think about or not wanting to feel. 

All of that is true, but in the end, does what you're doing with food really leave you feeling comforted, or is it like I hear from clients all the time, that comfort eating leaves you in a cycle of feeling bad and frustrated and with results that you don't like, feeling ineffective and less confident about your ability to move forward, and is it possible that in the end, that need for comfort is not really feeling soothed in a last kind of way?  Meaning it keeps coming back?

If you're a comfort eater who wants to take your power back from comfort eating, you do need comfort. You need other more effective, powerful ways to soothe yourself that are not food, and you're going to need to bust your own belief about how comforting comfort eating is, and really take a look at the stories that you're telling yourself about what you are getting or what you are accomplishing when you reach for that food.

Before your old thoughts start arguing with me, let me be clear. Your current thoughts about comfort eating being the ultimate comfort may not be wrong. But 

  1. They aren’t serving you (if you want to stop comfort eating) and

  2. They aren’t the only thoughts.

I want you to think about what we’re doing as something I teach called widening your lens.

Here is how you can start to change or widen your beliefs to change your comfort eating habit.

I want you to take a minute and make a list, an honest list for yourself, about all the things you really don't like about comfort eating. 

I want you to make a list of the negative impact that it has on your life, the negative feelings that may come up after you've given into comfort eating, the need for comfort that probably boomerangs back, whether it's in a couple of minutes, or a couple of hours, or a couple of days. 

I want you to pay attention to the way you feel physically. Really, how do you feel physically after you have done some mindless or very mindful comfort eating?

Busting this belief, it's one of the most powerful things you can do to break the comfort eating habit. 

Oh, and this list you’re making. I’ve seen it go one of two ways. You might find that once you begin looking, you instantly find a bunch of things that are uncomfortable about comfort eating. That’s great, get going on your list. But it’s also normal to discover that your brain has gone blank.

Because you’re asking your brain to stop thinking thoughts that are very ingrained and comfortable.

Sometimes the first step is simply asking the question. How is comfort eating not working for me? Or what is uncomfortable about comfort eating? What don’t I like about comfort eating - or what does my body not like about comfort eating?

It’s perfectly okay to let the question float in your brain. The answers will come - it may take time - but you have to start the process with the question!

Once you've busted your own beliefs or found other truths about how comfortable and comforting and also about how UNCOMFORTING comfort eating is for you, the next step is going to be finding ways to comfort yourself, to soothe yourself, to feel better that have nothing to do with food but are way more effective than comfort eating ever was. 

I have a free cheat sheet for you that you can download right here, 30 Ways To Soothe Without Food. I’ll put the link in the show notes. It will give you some ideas. The idea is to give you some things to experiment with and to also give you some material so that you can start generating the strategies that are going to work best for you as you work to end your comfort eating habit. So go to the show notes for the link and download the cheat sheet. 

I'll talk to you soon. 

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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