Breaking free from emotional eating to lose weight is to start by understanding that the brain has two built-in directives: pleasure seeking and survival. Which of the two determines our eating habits? Both!

The Pleasure-Seeking Program

First, Since you were a child, how many holidays have you celebrated? Add to that the birthdays and other special occasions, such as weddings and anniversaries, and you may total between ten and sixteen per year. All of these occasions brought with them friends, relatives, attention, love, warmth, and what else? You got it--wall to wall food!

What happened when you cleaned your room or ate your peas? You were rewarded with what? Dessert! Or on Sunday Daddy take the entire family to? Friendlys?

It's why your brain often, "Eat, you'll feel better; be nice to yourself; it tastes good; you deserve it."

The Survival Program

When you were a baby and you cried-for most any reason-what was the answer? The bottle, right? Anytime you were frustrated or upset, the bottle was there. The result was that you learned an early association with food and frustration. And when you ate your baby food-especially carrots and peas, you were rewarded with kudos and related food with pleasurable feelings.

Later when you were a toddler, maybe you approached another little boy or girl and were rejected, or you lost or broke a toy, or the teacher yelled at you because you didn't have your homework, or you didn't have a date for the first dance, or some other calamity happened, and you ran home crying, "Mommy, Mommy, the world's coming to an end." And what did Mommy say? "Come have some cake and milk. You'll feel better in a little while." Certainly, a little while later you felt better. All this time you have thought it was the cookies and milk, when it was really just the passing of time. No wonder your brain often says, "Eat, you've had a rough day," or "Eat, you got a lot done today," or "Given all the bull you've put up with today, you deserve something," or "Eat. If you don't, it'll get thrown away and you'll be wasting money," or "Eat. Be nice to yourself and treat yourself to something good!"

The Result

For many years this was OK. Then at some point you discovered that you had a weight problem. At what age? Ten, sixteen, forty six? The age is irrelevant. The first five or six years of your life are the most formative. By the time you realized you had a weight problem and needed to lose weight, you had already been perfectly conditioned to eat in response to pleasure and/or survival.

Little wonder then when you feel

* bored
* glad
* down
* confused
* upset
* frustrated
* rejected
* excited
your brain suggests having something to eat. The result is the program.

The obvious answer to stop overeating would simply be to eliminate emotional eating and stop the program.

However, because most of us have been trained to deny our feelings, the brain doesn't say, "Eat, you're happy." It says, "Eat because it looks good." Even when we're bored, the brain doesn't say, "Eat because you're bored;" it says, "Eat because it would taste good," or "Eat because there's nothing else to do."

Because of this, the emphasis is on having an eating problem rather than a problem handling emotions which by the way are a reaction to our various stressors in life. The irony though is that our emotional reactions to stress become stressors in themselves and this is because of our limited experiences in managing emotions. The goal to breaking free from emotional eating is to learn to acknowledge emotions as they are felt--end eating emotional--stop diluting emotions with food.

A progressive approach to losing weight involves asking questions "What is missing here? Why are people not getting the results they are promised? It is clearly nonproductive to keep using the same techniques when the results are so poor. It's more important to gain a grasp on breaking free from emotional eating than it is to read the scale. Besides focusing on the scale doesn't empower you to be a better more enlightened person, whereas results are there by learning about emotional eating. Stop emotional eating empowers you in all aspects of your life.

Author's Bio: 

Richard Kuhns B.S.Ch.E., NGH certified, an expert in the field of hypnosis with his best selling stress management and hypnosis cds at and His aim is to make it possible for anyone to manage emotional binge eating. For more information please visit