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Navigating Emotional Eating with New Year’s Resolutions

By Marion Holt January 02, 2024 Health and Fitness

Embarking on a weight loss journey is a common New Year’s resolution, but for those grappling with emotional eating, the path is laden with unique challenges. This article delves into the complexities of setting weight loss resolutions for emotional eaters. We will explore the dynamic relationship between emotional eating and New Year’s weight loss resolutions, aiming to shed light on ways to approach this issue with a blend of fun and compassion.

The Challenge of Emotional Eating when Resolving to Lose Weight

Emotional eating is a coping mechanism where individuals turn to food in response to their emotions, be it stress, sadness, boredom, or joy. It often becomes a cycle, as the temporary comfort gained from food can lead to guilt and further emotional distress. Recognizing the triggers and patterns of emotional eating is the first step towards creating sustainable change. If you want to take my free quiz to discover if you are an emotional eater, please click here.

With emotional eating, attempting to lose weight through traditional restrictive diets can trigger a counterproductive cycle, as the very act of restricting can intensify emotional responses and lead to overeating.

The emotional eating cycle typically involves a triggering event, an emotional response, eating for comfort, followed by guilt or shame. Traditional weight loss resolutions may inadvertently reinforce this cycle, as they often focus on deprivation and strict rules, exacerbating the emotional struggles.

Why Traditional Weight Loss Resolutions Fail for Emotional Eaters

1. Rigid Diets vs. Emotional Needs

Traditional weight loss resolutions often advocate for strict diets that may not address the underlying emotional needs triggering overeating. Emotional eaters require solutions that address the root cause of their relationship with food.

2. All-or-Nothing Mindset

Many weight loss plans promote an all-or-nothing mindset, making it challenging for emotional eaters to navigate the gray areas. The pressure to be perfect can lead to guilt when slip-ups occur, perpetuating the cycle of emotional eating.

3. Overemphasis on Appearance

Resolutions often focus solely on achieving a certain body image, neglecting the importance of fostering a positive relationship with food and addressing emotional triggers. This narrow focus can contribute to feelings of failure.

New Year, New Resolutions

A Compassionate Approach is the key for emotional eaters to lose weight and keep it off on the long run.

1. Shift the Focus to Well-Being

Instead of fixating on weight loss, try to consider resolutions that prioritize overall well-being. This shift in focus allows emotional eaters to work towards a healthier lifestyle without the overwhelming pressure of achieving a specific weight.

2. Turn Your Resolutions into Fun Challenges

Transforming resolutions into enjoyable challenges can infuse a sense of playfulness into the journey. For example, you can experiment with new healthy recipes, explore different forms of exercise, or try mindful eating exercises. By framing goals as exciting challenges, the path to positive change becomes an adventure rather than a chore.

3. Mindful Eating Practices

Mindful eating encourages being present in the moment and paying full attention to the sensory experience of eating. Incorporating mindfulness into meals can help break the cycle of emotional eating by fostering a deeper connection with food.

You can try to integrate mindful eating practices into your daily life. For example, encourage paying attention to hunger and fullness cues, savoring each bite, and appreciate the nourishment it provides. It might bring joy back to your eating moments. Recognize emotional triggers without judgment. Nobody asks you to be perfect. Mindfulness will help you foster a healthier relationship with food.

4. Set Realistic, Positive Goals

Try to establish achievable and positive goals that align with personal growth rather than focusing solely on weight loss. Celebrate progress in building healthier habits, cultivating self-compassion along the way.

5. Self-Compassion, a Key Ingredient

In the pursuit of New Year’s resolutions, it’s essential to practice self-compassion. Acknowledge that setbacks may happen, and it’s okay to not be perfect. Be gentle with yourself, celebrating the small victories and learning from challenges. Compassion creates a supportive environment for growth, fostering a mindset conducive to positive change.

6. Find Joy in Movement

Exercise is often viewed as a means to an end, but it can also be a source of joy. Try to explore different forms of physical activity until you discover what brings you genuine pleasure. Whether it’s dancing, hiking, or practicing yoga, incorporating joyful movement into your routine makes resolutions more enjoyable and sustainable.

7. Celebrate Your Progress

As the year unfolds, celebrate the progress made towards your resolutions. Reflect on the positive changes in your relationship with food and emotions. Small victories deserve acknowledgment, reinforcing the commitment to a healthier and happier lifestyle.

8. Build a Support Network

Embarking on a resolution journey, especially one related to emotional eating, is more enjoyable and sustainable with a support system. Try to share your goals with friends or family who can offer encouragement and understanding. Creating a sense of community can make the process lighter and more enjoyable. Surround yourself with understanding friends or family who can offer emotional support. Sharing your journey and challenges with others creates a supportive environment conducive to positive change.

9. Seek Professional Support

Enlist the help of a therapist, counselor, or a registered dietitian with experience in emotional eating. Professional support can provide valuable insights into the emotional aspects of eating and guide the development of healthier coping mechanisms.


The dawn of a new year symbolizes a fresh start and an opportunity to break free from unhealthy habits. When it comes to emotional eating, setting realistic and positive resolutions is crucial. Rather than focusing on strict diets, consider resolutions that promote a holistic approach to well-being, such as fostering a healthy relationship with food and addressing underlying emotional triggers.

Resolving to lose weight as an emotional eater requires a nuanced and compassionate approach. Navigating emotional eating within the realm of New Year’s resolutions can be a rewarding and transformative experience. By understanding the emotional eating cycle and acknowledging the pitfalls of traditional resolutions, you can set goals that prioritize overall well-being, mindfulness, and self-compassion.

By approaching the journey with a blend of fun and compassion, we can cultivate lasting habits that contribute to our overall well-being. Remember, the key lies not only in achieving the goals but in enjoying the process of positive change. The journey towards a healthier lifestyle is not about perfection but about embracing positive change at a pace that fosters lasting well-being. Cheers to a year filled with self-discovery, growth, and a healthier, happier you!

If you decide to focus on your emotional eating and to build a healthier relationship with food in 2024, you can check out my workbook on Amazon, that will provide you with a step-by-step guided process to be successful on your journey and enjoy 3 free online classes with your purchase.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

So what are your New Year’s Resolution going to be for 2024? What are they related with? Have you decided to go resolution-less? Or to stick with it this time? Let us know in the comments!

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Toni Stritzke

I eat healthily and prepare my own food mostly. I am not terribly overweight but losing a couple of kilos would make a big difference to a health condition I live with. Why is losing those kilos so difficult I wonder?
I start out the day well but come the late afternoon, my mind doesn’t seem to work for me. An item of food (usually unhealthy) will stick itself right in front of my imagination and not leave off, consuming my thinking until I eat. How can I break this cycle?

Marion HOLT

Hi Toni, thank you for your comment. It seems like you end up your days tired and/or stressed. This triggers food cravings where you obsess over food you know will make you feel better fast. I see 2 possible options in this situation.
1- identify what stresses you out or gets you so tired in your everyday routine, and see how you can make it easier for you to deal with. The better you feel, the less triggered to eat you will be.
2- during that process of change, that will likely take a little while, try to identify foods that you enjoy and feel rewarding to you, while being reasonably healthy. For example, I have a small container of low carbs ice cream in my freezer at all times. It is not perfect but definitely helps me curb my cravings for “real ice cream”. Have these products available and easily accessible for when your cravings usually hit you.

I hope this helps. Happy New Year!

The Author

Certified professional coach Marion Holt has been an emotional eater since childhood. No longer. In her workbook series, Never Eat Your Emotions Again, she shares specific behavioral expertise and techniques for efficiently recovering from emotional eating. She’s helped many others going through their own journey to a healthier relationship with food – and a much more fulfilled life.

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