Updated: December 12, 2023

Episode 284: Emotional Vs. Mindless Eating

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When I lost 100lbs, there was one thing I knew for certain.

I wasn’t ready to give up my emotional eating.

It’s almost hard to imagine, but 15 years ago, I was NOT ready to quit eating when I was feeling bad, lonely, tired, or depressed.

I had to figure out what I could do to lose weight while working on no longer needing food to fix my feelings.

In today’s podcast, I will…

  • Walk you through the differences between emotional and mindless eating.
  • Teach you that mindless eating is often EASY to quit once you know how to spot it and change it.
  • Show why following traditional diets fail us (hint: they take away the food without teaching us what to do with the reasons we’re eating in the first place).

If you’re on a stall in your weightloss or just want to get started, I bet this podcast will help you.

Click here to listen to Episode 284: Emotional Vs. Mindless Eating.


Corinne :

Hi. I’m Corinne. After a lifetime of obesity, being bullied for being the fattest kid in the class, and losing and gaining weight like it was my job, I finally got my together and I lost 100 pounds. Each week, I’ll teach you no bullshit weight loss advice you can use to overcome your battle with weight. I keep it simple. You’ll learn how to quit eating and thinking like asshole. You stop that and weight loss becomes easy. My goal is to help you lose weight the way you want to live your life. If you are ready to figure out weight loss, then let’s go.

Hello, everyone. Welcome back. So today we are going to talk about emotional versus mindless eating. And the reason why I’m bringing this podcast to you today is because in the end of September, I am going to be running a seven-day weight loss jumpstart. And you will get plenty of information about it in email. I will also be putting on my social. So I just want you to start looking out for that. If you are not getting emails from me, you want to head on over to nobsfreecourse.com sign up for the free course that will automatically put you on my mailing list so that you get information about challenges, you get podcast notifications, I’ll tell you when I’m going to go live for free public Q&As and all the things.

So you want to be on my list, but the reason why we’re going to talk about emotional versus mindless eating today is because it is really important that when we are losing weight, that we understand there are all types of eating that we can clean up, there are all kinds of things that we can do. And when I was losing my 100 pounds, one of the things that I knew in the very beginning was that my resiliency and my ability to stick with a weight loss program was tender at best. I would call it fragile. I would call it something that was … I just knew me well enough. I would think about, “Gosh, I need to make sure I get wins.” Because my past is that when I mess up, I tend to just quit, I tend to just give up on myself. I do all of those things.

So when I first started losing weight, I had to figure out what are the pitfalls for me? What are the things I’m going to need? What is it that goes on with me? And how am I going to navigate all of this? Because what I did know is just trying to do hard-ass diets, things that were too hard for me, things that asked too much of me and stuff, that just didn’t work. I just was not in an emotional state to handle all that stuff. So I really thought about it.

One of the things that I knew about me was there was a couple things that would happen. One, I would start really hard diets, very restrictive. They required a 180 in my life. I had to suffer. Everyone around me was suffering. And I knew that that shit didn’t work because they were so hard that I would set myself up to make mistakes. I just didn’t even realize that screwing up was just going to be part of the process and I needed to keep going and I needed to work through all that. I wasn’t at that stage yet, but here was the other thing. It was like I was putting myself in this lose loose situation. So I either was doing something balls out hard or I would tell myself that if I didn’t do balls hard stuff, that it wasn’t good enough, that it would take forever, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

So I call that the lose-lose situation. And until I lost my weight, I didn’t even realize I was doing that to myself and then I didn’t even realize how I solved it. So I wanted to talk about it today because I think a lot of times we put ourselves into lose-lose situations. So one of the things that I did was I just made a decision. All right. If we’re going to lose in one way, let’s lose the way that we can make the most progress with.

So I really evaluated. Did I want to do something excruciatingly hard that required food preps, and sore ass workouts and all these things where the probability of me not wanting to do it, the probability of me skipping, the probability of life getting in the way, the probability of the obstacles, the probability of just not knowing what to do and messing up to where I would quit. Do I want to do that or do I want to do where it’s not good enough, it’s going to take forever. But the only thing that’s happening is I am making progress each day and I’m just judging the fuck out of myself and I’m just thinking that it’s going to take forever. Well, I decided I would pick that because at least over there, I was like, “Well, I can set the bar really low. I can get momentum. I can do a lot of things.” And then in the moment when it doesn’t feel good enough, I’m just going to tell myself, “That’s some bullshit.” It’s not that it ain’t good enough. It’s that you’re sitting around feeling like shit when you should be sitting around feeling good that you made progress today.

So I picked the path that would basically grow and evolve me some or that I could see myself being able to handle better. So before we even get into emotional versus mindless eating, for a lot of you, you need to think about that. With your weight loss, are you putting yourself in some kind of a lose-lose situation and then wondering why is it so fucking hard to lose weight? It’s like, “Look in the mirror. That’s why it’s hard to lose weight.” When you give yourself two really shitty options. No wonder so many of us stay stuck in doing jack shit when it comes to losing weight. It’s like, “I’d rather stay stuck here than to have to choose a path at which I know I will fail or at which I know will be just too hard or too painful.”

So I did that. And then what I realized is when I was deciding, all right, I’m going to do the little things. Every single day, I’m going to … Literally, y’all, I would wake up each day and I would ask myself, “What can I do today that’s just a little bit better than yesterday?” And I would figure that out and I would do it and I would see that it was way easier than I thought it was going to be. It was not near as terrible as I might have imagined. And then I would be like, “All right. I can just keep doing that.” And then eventually as I kept doing little things and I kept proving myself to myself like, “I can do these things.” Next thing I knew I had momentum, next thing I knew I was losing weight, the next thing I knew I had a lot of things that I had made little small changes and they were just adding up on the scale in my life.

So this is important because I’m going to be teaching a lot about that during the jumpstart week. The jumpstart is going to be two simple steps to knowing how much to eat and when to eat. And then we’re going to spend the rest of the week overcoming excuses, understanding how change actually works so that you’re not rushing yourself, you’re not having high expectations, you’re not getting stuck in perfectionism. I’m going to teach you how to deal with all of it on day two. Day one, we’re going to figure out what the fuck to eat. Day two, We are going to move straight into learning. How does behavior change actually work? So many of you are actually making progress. If I’m not doing it perfectly, it doesn’t count. We are going to debunk all of that on day two. And then as the week goes on, we’re going to talk about excuses and all those other kinds of stuff. But today, what I want to pull out of all of this is I want to talk to you about emotional versus mindless eating.

When we talk about emotional versus mindless eating, I want to do this because when I first started losing weight, I was not ready to let go of my emotional eating. I just wasn’t prepared. And that’s because I didn’t know how to comfort myself at night without food, I didn’t know yet how to have a bad day and not eat over it, I didn’t know how to stop beating myself up so that I wasn’t triggered to want to eat a lot by the end of the day. I had to work my way there on all of that emotional stuff so that I was at a place I could let go of a lot of my emotional eating, but I also didn’t want to wait the fuck around. I wanted to lose some weight. So I started with what was called mindless eating. So let me break the two down for you and then we can go into more detail.

First mindless eating is that eating that we aren’t emotionally attached to. Mindless eating is the stuff that feels like it’s on autopilot, it’s not emotionally charged, it’s a habit. We’ve just been doing it so long. That very often, unless we pay attention, we don’t even notice those eats. And very often, mindless eating is what keeps a lot of people on weight loss stalls, it keeps them stuck. Very often when my clients come to me, my No BS women in the membership, they’ll want to get coached on a starer plateau. I’ll ask them about kind of their eating habits and stuff. And they will tell me about these little things that they’re eating and they’ll say, “But that shouldn’t count.” Mindless eating is things like taking a bite, a lick or taste off of somebody else’s food. It’s like, “Well, I can’t have that, but just give me a bite.” Those little bites add up.

Mindless eating for me when I first started was one of the big ones. I would take Logan. We would be out running errands. We’d be doing all the things. And often we would be out for so long during the day I’d have to run through a drive through to get him something to eat so the baby wouldn’t starve. And when I would, well, Logan, he wouldn’t finish his nuggets or he wouldn’t finish his French fries. Well, guess who was the Hoover in the car? I was the Hoover and I would clean up the food. These are the eats that we don’t think about. Very often we’ll just clean our plate because, well, that’s what I served myself. We’re not even thinking about whether or not we had enough food. We’re just eating. Sometimes it’s like candy dishes at work. You’re just very used to walking by somebody’s desk who keeps candy out and you pop a couple in your mouth. A lot of times when you’re cooking dinner, you might clean up the last few bites in a pan, you may taste foods, but this is what kills me. So many people are like, “Well, I need to taste it to make sure that it’s edible.” And it’s a fucking recipe that you have made 400 times for your family. If buy a meal for you ain’t figured out how to make Mac and cheese without a taste. We got bigger problems.

So mindless eating is that stuff that we just do, but we’re not doing it because we feel bad about ourselves, or we’re having a bad day, or we want to fit in, and things like that. That’s emotional eating. So mindless eating doesn’t really have emotion behind it. It’s just kind of happening. It feels very autopilot. You might feel an urge to do it, but it doesn’t feel urgent. This is where emotional eating comes in. Emotional eating is where we turn up the volume on the emotions. It usually feels like you need to do it. It feels urgent. It’s stemming from some kind of thinking that is creating anxiety, nervous, some type of feeling inside of you that’s not great.

So a lot of emotional eating looks like this. At 8:00 night when the house quiets down, everybody has gone to bed and you just really want to check out with some cookie dough and some Netflix. It feels like you need to, it feels urgent. Your brain starts telling you like, “You’ve worked so hard. You’ve had such a long day. You were so good today. You deserve it.” And if you don’t eat, then your brain starts going, “You know you didn’t do enough today. Let’s start thinking about all the things that you’re going to have to do tomorrow that you dread. Let’s sit and recollect all the things around the house that you could be spending your time doing right now, instead of watching Netflix. Because if you were a good mother, you would finish that last load of laundry, you would get ahead on your work for tomorrow.” That is our duty brain. Emotional eating stems from duty brain thinking. So it usually feels urgent, it’s in those moments when we feel lonely, or we’re stressed, or we’re tired, we feel beat down from the day, we’re dreading the next project we have to do at work. Emotional eating is our way of putting a small shield against emotions we don’t want to feel.

So I say all this because in the jump start, one of the things that I’m going to teach you is start with mindless eating first. Now, it would be great if we all started with emotional eating, but I think for a lot of us, we need those wins in the beginning. When you have suffered with your weight all of your life, I think one of the best things that you can give yourself when you first start losing weight is easy doable wins so that you can build some momentum, so you can start seeing yourself have the ability to make changes and you’re letting go of things that you are not as emotionally attached to. It may feel weird to not eat out of the pan, it may be hard to not finish your son’s chicken nuggets. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s not impossible. For a lot of us when we’re eating at night because if you’re like me very often I ate at night because I would spend my entire day thinking about how’s … I’m not a good wife because of my weight. I would trail around after Logan thinking, “I just can’t keep up. I’m not a good mom.”

Logan was not easy baby. I remember that first year thinking often, “What have I done to myself? Is this what it’s going to be like for the rest of my life?” I would be in fear, and panic, and worry most of the day. It was like there were these constant tornado sirens going off in my head. I remember days he would cry and I would sit and think, “What have I done? I’ve had a baby. I’m going to spend the rest of my life taking care of something. I barely feel like I can take care of myself.”

I would judge myself for everything I’d put in my mouth. I would think, “You don’t even have a job anymore.” And my husband is a great husband. And I would just be like, “You can’t even support yourself.” When I would let my brain run away with all that, it makes so much sense now why at night I was ending it eating ice cream out of a half a gallon carton because I had all day long barely held it together through all of that. And then when it would get quiet, all I wanted was some mental quiet. And ice cream, if I would eat it, if nothing else, my brain would concentrate on the ice cream and tune out. I was never enjoying it, I was never loving every bite, I was never grateful for it. I was just eating to get away from me. So the reason why I like to start with the mindless eating for a lot of us is because sometimes we need to work on this emotional stuff while we’re still eating until we unwind those stories. We learn how to listen for them, we learn how to talk better to ourselves, and then it becomes easier to make better choices for ourselves.

What diets do, and this is why they’re often very traumatic for people, this is why they often fail, this is why they don’t work, is they take all the food away and they don’t address what was emotionally going on. You’re just supposed to be good. You’re just supposed to not eat. You’re just supposed to wait until you lose weight where somehow all that self-loathing, all those worries, all those anxieties, they will melt away because you now weigh 150 pounds and wear a size eight. And that doesn’t happen. So we owe it to ourselves to understand the different types of overeating that we do, to solve for the ones that are the easiest first, then we move into solving for the emotional eating that we’re doing, not by taking the food away and just going along with our shitty brain, but by taking away the shitty brain aspect of it, then it’s a lot easier to choose to say no to those foods. You’re no longer having to take them away, you’re no longer having to restrict and deprive yourself. You’re actually no longer needing them. That is the magic that I teach in weight loss. That’s where every diet should be maniacally focused on, and yet nobody does it.

It’s not a sexy cell. It doesn’t come in a package with some protein shakes, it doesn’t promise that tomorrow you’re going to lose 10 pounds in three days or whatever. One thing I can tell you though is when you start working on the emotional stuff, you start feeling 10 pounds lighter in your head, in the world. And then that physical weight just starts coming off feeling a lot less easier. And that is a lot of what we’ll talk about in the seven-day jump start. I’m going to really help all of you understand where you’re at with your emotional eating, what are the normal excuses that you use, what are the patterns that you have that drives your emotional eating? So that then you have a blueprint of the emotional part of your life that you need to start solving for. And when you start solving for that part, the weight loss becomes the easiest thing to do because now you’re choosing it.

So in order to prep for the workshop, here’s what I’m going to want y’all to do. And don’t forget, you need to be getting emails from me. So if you don’t get one every Monday and every Friday from sweet old Corinne of Losing 100 Pounds podcast, you need to go to nobsfreecourse.com and get signed up. If you still don’t get our emails, you can just email us at support@pnptribe.com. We will make sure you are on our email list so that you do not miss registering for our seven-day weight loss jump start. But here’s how I want y’all to prepare. The very first thing I want you to do is simply get aware of your eating. I want you to really pay attention to everything you put into your mouth. I don’t care if it’s a little caramel chew off the desk at work, or if it’s a bottom Mac and cheese off your three-year-old’s leftovers, or if it’s like cleaning a hole cart ice cream off at 9:00 at night sitting and watching TV. I just want you to know all of your stuff.

You do not need to change any of it. That’s step two. Your job is not to change anything. It is to come into the challenge very aware of your eating. I will teach you all about how to identify them as mindless versus emotional, but I just want you to come aware of your current eating and not to change any of it. So we’re going to pay attention to our eating and then we ain’t going to change a damn thing. And step three is you’re not going to judge yourself. This is the most important step. When you start noticing all of your eating, it will be very easy for you to be like, “Oh, my God, I’m fucking broken. Oh, my God, I’m a fat pig. Oh, my God. No wonder I don’t lose weight.”

It will be really easy for you to go down shit road, but I want you to take the high road. I just want you to simply remind yourself, “I am doing this for me. This is the first step to figuring out how to have a relationship with food I really want one that I love, one that I enjoy, and one that I respect. And the only way I’m ever going to get to that is to know with what I am dealing with. And I am not broken. There’s nothing wrong with me, I am not crazy, and I am not alone in this. There will be thousands of other women in that jumpstart who will have very similar eating patterns than me.”

I promise you inside the jumpstart, I will have binge eaters, I will have people who feel addicted to food, I will have people who eat pretty healthy, they just overeat the healthy stuff, I will have people who overeat. We will have people who secret eat, we will have people like me. I never secret ate. I ate all the things in front of everybody. I just ate a lot of the things in front of a lot of people. So we will have every single person, and I really mean this. A lot of you you’re just overeating, and you already have shame, and you already have judgment around that, but for my secret eaters, my binge eaters, for my people who feel addicted, y’all are who I’m talking to right now, there are thousands and thousands of women just like you. And this is what y’all always tell me when we coach on this inside my membership. “I thought I was the only one. I didn’t know other people ate like me. I didn’t know some people could eat six protein bars, a tub of ice cream, and a sleeve of Oreos in one sitting until I met you.”

You are not alone. This is one of the secrets that most women keep. And I want you to know you do not need to feel alone and you do not feel ashamed about it. It is a learned behavior. It is not uncommon. And I will promise you in our group, not only will you feel included, you can talk about it and you can find people like you so we can solve for it. I just think it’s important because when you turn up the volume of your overeating, you are inviting to turn up the volume of your shame voice, of your inner critic. And all I want you to do is say, “I get it. I have always thought this was wrong. And what I’m going to learn from Corinne is that this isn’t wrong. This is just the way I’ve learned to deal with my emotions. This is just the way and maybe the best way I ever had in the past of figuring out my emotional life or protecting myself. And now I’m ready to learn a new way.” And I really mean this because it is the privilege of my life to be able to work with people and show them they’re not broken, to teach them that there’s nothing wrong with them because at some point in their life, food felt like a fix, food solved something, and it did.

I just want to teach you how to no longer need it because unless you give yourself new ways to deal with inner critic, new ways to deal with when you’re hard on yourself, new ways to deal with stress, new ways to deal with your anxiety, your guilt, regret, and shame. Until you have new ways to deal with it, it’s no wonder you do keep eating.

No one has taught you how to deal with all of that. No one has taught you how to understand it, and work with it, and change it, and I’m going to. And then the last thing is after you have watched yourself, not changed a thing, normalized. “This is all right. I’m not judging myself. I get why I do this.” The last thing is, I just want you to identify some patterns. Patterns will look like this. “I notice that on the way home after I’ve taught a full day at school or nursed all day, that in the car, I start thinking about food. And when I get home, that’s when I eat. I notice that I’m a nighttime eater. I do pretty good all day long until it’s quiet. Then that’s when I want to eat. I notice that I pop food in my mouth when I’m cooking. I notice that I eat the leftovers of everybody in my family because I don’t like wasting it.” I just want you to notice your patterns. That way, when we get started for the jumpstart, you have things to work on, you already know your stuff and we can work on it together for that week.

All right. The last thing I just want to say is when you turn up the awareness, you might find that there are some things that you immediately are willing to let go of. If you feel good about it, if you’re done and like, “Oh, my gosh. I didn’t notice I was doing this. I’m not going to eat that.” Go ahead and let those go. Grab your easy, easy, easy but wins. That’s what I want for you. But if you’re like, “I shouldn’t do that.” Or, “This is bad.” Or whatever. I don’t want you to let it go until you can convince yourself, “You know what? This is one of those things I just don’t need to do. I don’t need it. And I would rather just let it go.” Because I want you get used to telling yourself not to eat something from a reasonable, calm, thoughtful, deliberate, and compassionate way.

Too often what we do is we’ll notice a pattern and you’ll want to give it up yelling at yourself, being a shrill, acting like some bitch ass mom who all she does is yell at her kids. No. We want to break the habit of trying to change ourselves from being an asshole to ourselves. So if you find something that you’re just like, “Oh, my gosh. I didn’t even notice I do that. I’m just not going to do that anymore.” That’s an easy one to let go of. You are greenlighted to let that go.

All right. I hope this was helpful. Don’t forget you’re going to want to be in the seven-day weight loss jumpstart. It’s going to kick some serious. We are going to start on I believe it is September the 25th. Let me double check. I got my computer open. Yep. The challenge will start September … or the jumpstart will start September 25th. They will run for seven days. And registrations, I believe, are going to be opening sometime around September the 12th. Watch your email. We will email you all kinds of information. You can sign up and then we will have an amazing week together. All right, everybody. I will talk to you soon.

Thank you so much for listening. Make sure you head on over to nobsfreecourse.com and sign up for my free weight loss training on what you need to know to start losing your weight right now. You’ll also find lots of notes and resources from our past podcast to help you lose your weight without all the bullshit [inaudible 00:29:59]. I’ll see you next week.


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I'm Corinne Crabtree

Corinne Crabtree, top-rated podcaster, has helped millions of women lose weight by blending common-sense methods with behavior-based psychology.

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