Emotional eating

Emotional Eating Can Put Recovery at Risk: Here’s How to Cope Better

Emotions can trigger behavior that can sometimes turn into negative things like overeating, not eating enough, or emotional eating. Challenges with emotional eating are not uncommon for people in recovery because it is a response to a difficult situation. Sadness can decrease or increase appetite. People with mood swings, or in recovery, might try to cope by doing the things they know they shouldn’t so they feel better. Find out why emotional eating can put people in recovery at risk, especially women, and learn how to cope better.

Eating in Response to Emotions

Emotional eating is anything a person consumes when they have a negative emotion or response to a situation. It might be they are on edge or hopeless. Eating when bored or isolated is also common. This is not because a person is hungry. It is because they are filling a void in the moment. Strong tendencies to fill an emotional void with food may continue despite:

  • Having a full stomach
  • Being busy but bothered by a need to eat
  • Looking to fill a craving for sweets, something salty, or specific foods

A pattern of emotional eating can take people down the pathway of crossover addiction in severe instances. Crossover addiction happens when a person is in recovery but trades that addiction for something else.

Reflect on Eating Patterns

Look at the patterns of eating and how they occur. Think about the frequency and intensity of the cravings. It can be attributed to emotional eating if they are in congruence with an emotional situation, experience, or time in life. After a long day at work, even after dinner, it is not uncommon for emotional eaters to open the fridge looking for food. Food treats to cope with stress or anxiety can turn into an addiction to sugars or candy to deal with stressful situations. If a person is feeling down, they may like to eat alone and stay isolated until they feel better. This can also perpetuate the issue of emotional eating.

Curb Emotional Eating

To curb emotional eating, it might take speaking with a therapist, recovery professional, or doctor. There are many reasons people crave foods, eat differently than they should, and cope with stress. It is helpful to try and find some positive coping strategies for dealing with emotional eating. It begins with some of the following ideas.

Know the Cues

Start writing down a daily log of all the food consumed. Note the emotions that are happening at the time. Think about how to deal with those differently next time. If the family brings up painful emotions, and those gatherings are coming up, write down some positive ideas for coping. Talk to someone, share it with a therapist, and go to more recovery meetings if it helps. Don’t let other people trigger negative emotions and thoughts. Learn how to strategize healthy ways of coping.

Recalibrate Outlets

It is easy to give in to eating when emotions are high. Exercise is a great way to recalibrate emotions into action. Log exercise and activity to boost mood. Do meditative breathing exercises, use social media, or engage in mental activities to combat boredom. Think about other healthy outlets that might work like being in nature instead of reaching for chocolate or soda.

Unpleasant Feelings Happen

As fun as it is to feel happy and joyful, the reality is that life (and recovery) is not perfect. The world is not a place where happy and joyful people live all the time. It is unrealistic to imagine positive emotions can be there all the time. Learn to accept and expect the negative feelings. Learn to move away from judgment and self-shame by knowing this will pass. Even if it takes a while, talk it out with trusted advisors. Speak with people who will pour truth into the experience and not perpetuate negative, harsh criticism about your eating habits. Acknowledge that bad things happen, negative emotions occur, and there is hope for people to keep trying to do better next time.


As with anything in recovery, patience is critical. Wait a while to see if the cravings peak and go away. It might be worth talking to a doctor about medication. It may be worth exercising patience because it is harder to do that with oneself than with others. Patience is a useful recovery tool that will help bridge the gap in other hard circumstances. We are all human on the journey. Don’t be too critical of how quickly things shift or don’t shift. Admit it may be a while before they change, and that is okay.


If it is increasingly hard to change the pattern of behavior, it may be time to speak with a doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist. Recovery is a fragile time with lots of emotional shifts and moving parts. Be patient and be kind, but also practice good self-care and know when to seek help if things are becoming too hard to manage alone. There is help and hope.


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Additional Tips for How To Stop Emotional & Stress Eating

Emotional and stress eating can negatively affect both our physical and mental health. In the face of adversity or high-pressure situations, many of us turn to food for comfort — but there are healthier ways to cope. Let’s explore a few emotional eating treatment strategies to manage these challenges and live healthier lives.


Prioritize Sleep

One of the often-overlooked factors in emotional eating recovery is the role of sleep. Poor sleep can not only throw off your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues, but it can also increase your cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods and make overcoming emotional eating more difficult. Prioritizing a good night’s sleep can help maintain a balanced diet and reduce the tendency to overeat.


Eat Regularly

The role of nutrition in emotional eating treatment can’t be understated. Eating regular, balanced meals can curb cravings and is a key aspect of emotional eating recovery. Skipping meals while undergoing emotional eating treatment can lead to excessive hunger and a higher likelihood of overeating. 


While overcoming emotional eating, aim to incorporate a variety of foods into your meals to ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs and preventing unwanted cravings.


Engage in Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is an emotional eating treatment practice that encourages a focus on the act of eating, the tastes, textures, and our feelings of fullness. 


The practice of mindful eating allows us to better understand our hunger cues and enjoy our meals without overindulging. When undergoing body image and eating disorder treatments, it’s recommended to set a dedicated time for meals to truly savor your food and listen to your body’s needs.


Cultivate a Support System

Having a strong support network is a vital part of the emotional eating cure. This support system can include trusted friends, family members, or mental health professionals who understand your struggles with eating and body image issues and can provide encouragement and guidance.


Employ Relaxation Techniques for Stress Management

When we manage stress effectively, we’re less likely to turn to food for comfort. Techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation can help reduce stress and promote emotional wellbeing. There are tons of online women’s health resources to help each of us find a personalized plan that works for us. 


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How Can I Effectively Break the Cycle of Stress Eating?

Want to know how to overcome stress eating? It starts with realizing that you need help.


Identifying your triggers, whether they’re certain situations, feelings or people, is crucial. Replacing stress eating with healthier coping mechanisms, like those mentioned above, is another important strategy to start recovering and avoid stress eating in recovery.

What Are Some Common Triggers for Stress Eating?

Triggers  for emotional eating can vary between individuals but may include stress, boredom, loneliness, and negative emotions. Certain environments or people may also provoke episodes of emotional eating.

What Is the Difference Between Physical Hunger and Emotional Hunger?

Physical hunger is a biological need for nutrients. It’s signaled by a growling stomach, low energy, or lightheadedness. Hunger is gradual and can be satiated with any food. 


Emotional hunger, on the other hand, is a desire to consume food in response to feelings, not due to physical need. It’s often abrupt and specific, craving comfort foods, and doesn’t cease with fullness.

How Long Does It Take To Overcome Stress Eating?

Overcoming stress eating is a personal journey that depends on the individual. It could take weeks, months, or even years. The most important practice is to be patient with yourself and seek professional help if necessary.

Can Eating Disorders Be Affected by Substance Abuse?

Eating disorders and substance abuse can be interconnected. 


Individuals with eating disorders may turn to substances to cope with their feelings or control their weight. Conversely, those struggling with substance abuse may develop unhealthy eating habits or disorders. It’s a complex relationship requiring specialized care and treatment.

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Casa Capri Recovery Is Here To Help

Overcoming emotional and stress eating can be a challenging journey, but you don’t have to face it alone. 


Casa Capri Recovery, a women’s treatment center specializing in eating disorders and substance abuse, offers comprehensive, compassionate care designed to heal your mind, body, and spirit.


 Our team of professionals is dedicated to guiding you on your path to recovery, providing the necessary tools and support every step of the way. We understand the unique struggles you’re facing and are committed to helping you rebuild your life in a healthier, happier way.

At Casa Capri Recovery, we provide a variety of treatment modalities, including individual therapy, group therapy, nutritional counseling, and stress management techniques. By addressing the root causes of emotional and stress eating, we help our clients understand their triggers and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Using Your Insurance for Treatment of Eating Disorders

Navigating the world of insurance coverage can be daunting, especially when you’re already dealing with the stress of eating disorders. Rest assured that at Casa Capri Recovery, we’re here to make the process as seamless as possible. 


We accept a wide range of insurance plans, and our experienced admissions team will work with you to understand your coverage and maximize your benefits. Below are some prime examples of various insurance plans we work with to help treat stress and emotional eating:

Anthem Blue Cross

At Casa Capri Recovery, we coordinate with Anthem Blue Cross insurance to help our clients access high-quality treatment for eating disorders related to emotional and stress eating. 


We can help facilitate the process, ensuring that you make full use of your coverage for our comprehensive, personalized care programs.

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Casa Capri Recovery works closely with Aetna to help those struggling with stress and emotional eating disorders. 


We will coodinate with Aetna on your behalf to clarify your benefits, secure the necessary authorizations, and ensure you receive the care you need under your plan, easing the financial burden of treatment.

Health Net

 We have a productive relationship with Health Net insurance at Casa Capri Recovery, enabling us to assist our clients in receiving the necessary coverage for their eating disorder treatments. 

We work diligently with Health Net to streamline the approval process, ensuring our clients can focus on what truly matters—their recovery journey.

Remember, seeking help for an eating disorder is a critical step in reclaiming control over your life and wellbeing. It’s never too early or too late to start the recovery journey. If you or a loved one is struggling with emotional or stress eating, reach out to Casa Capri Recovery. Your journey to health, happiness, and a renewed life begins here.

Casa Capri works hard to ensure you have the best care by our female staff of professionals. We understand how hard it is to recover from addiction. We are here to support you and all the things you need on the journey. Call us if you are ready to get started. Call Casa Capri today: 844-593-8020


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Our program offers the highest quality care for women struggling with addiction and co-occurring conditions in Southern California.

We are fully licensed by the State of California and our treatment center is accredited by The Joint Commission – the standard of excellence in quality programs.


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Casa Capri Recovery is proud to be an approved Anthem Blue Cross, MHN, Aetna, The Holman Group, and Halcyon Provider.


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If you or a loved one has a substance addiction, please give us a call today at 949-535-4998. It’s time to heal your heart and find true happiness.

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