Do you sometimes comfort yourself with food when you are stressed, angry, bored, sad or lonely? Comfort eating can derail your efforts to lose weight and can lead to significant weight gain. Fortunately, there are strategies which can help you take control.

The key to losing weight is low-fat, high-fibre eating and regular exercise. However, often this is not enough. Poor eating habits and psychological factors such as comfort (or emotional) eating can sabotage your best efforts.

Comfort foods are often high kilojoule, sweet or fatty and may make you feel better temporarily.

However, after a comfort binge, you have the added burden of guilt for overeating. This can lead to a vicious cycle. Your emotions trigger you to overeat, you beat yourself up for doing it, feel bad and overeat again.

How to get control

  • If stress is a problem, try to deal with the cause. Learn a stress management strategy such as yoga, meditation or muscle relaxation.
  • Ask yourself if your hunger is physical or emotional? If you ate recently and your stomach is not rumbling, you’re probably not hungry.
  • Keep a food diary. Record what, how much and when you eat, hunger levels and how you are feeling. This may reveal links between food and mood and help identify eating triggers.
  • Get the support of family and friends.
  • Distract yourself. Instead of reaching for a ­biscuit, go for a walk, read or call a friend.
  • Remove temptation. Don’t keep your comfort foods at home or in the office.
  • Don’t diet too strictly or banish all treats. This can increase your food cravings.
  • If you have the urge to snack, choose a low-fat, low kilojoule snack, such as fresh fruit or vegetables with fat-free dip.

See your doctor if you still can’t get control. Counselling can help identify the underlying cause and help you learn new coping skills.

More Information


  • Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
  • For up to date information, speak to your doctor.
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