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My Own End to Overeating (Well, for the Most Part)

Credit: Rennett Stowe

Credit: Rennett Stowe

I wrote and rewrote the intro to this post at least 10 times. Normally on FBG we’re pretty lighthearted and don’t take anything too seriously. But, today I’m going to switch it up and get emotional on ya. That’s right, today we’re talking about something really, really personal: emotional eating.

I have my own emotional eating story. Like many, I’ve struggled with emotional eating from time to time. (In fact, almost everyone emotionally eats whether you’re happy, sad, bored or lonely—at some time or another.) My issue ironically began in college after I became a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. After dealing with some personal issues along with the pressure of a tough class schedule my senior year, I began to overeat. If I was tired from staying up late working on a project, I’d eat for energy. If I was trying to avoid writing a paper, I’d eat to procrastinate. If I was feeling alone, I’d eat so that I didn’t notice. And it became a really bad habit and coping mechanism. Then, to compensate for the overeating, I began working out even more, teaching three to five group exercise classes a week in addition to my regular workouts. I felt the pressure of needing to look fit and trim, and, in many ways, my new profession spiraled me into not a textbook eating disorder per se (thank goodness) but definitely disordered eating.

I continued like this for years. Gaining and losing up to 10 pounds in a month’s time and generally being pretty obsessed with food and my weight. As a fitness professional, I always knew it was jacked up and I would NEVER tell a client or friend to go on like I did (we all know overeating isn’t about the food), but I kind of turned a blind eye to it. As a fairly proud person, I put up a good front of total body confidence, too, so most people in my life had no idea I was so consumed with it. They just thought I was healthy! Oh, the irony.

My “wake-up” call was when I got engaged. (God, this sounds like an Oprah show…) I immediately went into a panic about what my body would look like on my wedding day, and I knew that I could not go on like that. Life—and my WEDDING DAY—was about more than body imperfections, and I literally could no longer devote as much mental energy to obsessing. So, I privately made an appointment with a dietitian who specialized in emotional eating. And, dude, this lady changed my life. She helped me to really see my reasons for eating and helped me to get out of my self-destructive behavior. She also reacquainted me with my hunger, as I was way out of touch with it, and helped me to deal with my guilt of taking a day off of exercise. My dietitian was a huge believer in Intuitive Eating, which is a program and a book, and I have to say eating intuitively (or basically according to your true hunger and your body’s needs) totally changed my life. Although, I will say that I could not have made the changes I did without my dietitian. I needed someone to talk to and to be accountable to. Staci, you rocked my world to a gentle calm.

So why am I telling you all this? For two reasons. First, I know many of you struggle with your own emotional eating, and I don’t want you to ever feel alone or think that the FBGs are perfect. We are far from it. Second, I recently read David Kessler’s (former FDA commissioner, so he knows what he’s talking about) book The End of Overeating, and it addressed so many memories from my overeating past. The book is seriously chock full of research on the science and business of overeating. And by business, I mean the food industry purposefully creating menu items that load sugar on top of fat, which can create a drug-like high in consumers. (No seriously. The high is similar to heroine, he says.) This state can be addictive (again, heroine) and cause what Kessler calls “hypereating,” where willpower goes out the window and all you can think about is potato chips. The book has some great tips for how to overcome this, such as setting eating rules (for example, “I don’t eat fast food,” instead of debating whether or not you should stop for an egg-sausage biscuit on the way to work) and paying attention to your thought processes and realizing that you can reverse your bad habits. I wish I’d read this book seven years ago.

These days, I still have a slip-up every now and again, but it’s not something I beat myself up over, and I certainly never feel bad for taking a day off from my workouts. I heart off-days. I eat all foods in moderation, eat according to my hunger and actually enjoy food. Life’s too short to over (or under) eat. —Jenn


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  1. Jess says:

    This sounds like a great book. I'd love to enter the giveaway contest!

    And thanks for sharing your story of ending an unhappy cycle of emotional eating. I can definitely relate.

  2. Brooke says:

    I am on the wait list at the library for this book. Sounds amazing!

    I think all women can relate to emotional eating on some level. I know I am still struggling with it and the more private struggles I go through, the worse it gets. Thanks for talking about it on your blog!

  3. Trina says:

    I would love to read this book. I too struggle with emotional eating at times. Thanks for sharing your story. It helps to know that others have been there too.

  4. Hilary says:

    I can definitely relate to your struggle with overeating. I would love to read this book?

  5. Nicole says:

    I just saw an article about his book the other day, and I'd so love to read it. Both my husband and myself are emotional eaters, but for completely different reasons.

  6. sparky38351 says:

    I would also love to enter to win this book. I have always struggled with emotional eating, and that in turn turned into obsessing about everything I ate. I think this sounds like a great read!

  7. Anonymous says:

    i thank you for sharing such a personal story. i swear we don't wanna hear how heidi klum ate that extra popcorn kernel and had to do 2 extra hours of work outs to get it off. i think a lot of us struggle with emotional eating (i do! i eat when i'm bored & lonely) and now we know we're not alone…and there's a book even! thanks ladies : )

  8. Cheng says:

    Thanks for this great post. A lot of it sounds familiar event though I didn't even think I would relate to it. I will definitely read the book!

  9. kjl says:

    Thanks for sharing, Jenn! Great post and great information.

  10. Nellie says:

    Wow! Your story is eerily similar to my own right now. Thank you so much for sharing! I too have became a fitness instructor and continue to use exercise to compensate for my overeating. I make light of it around others, saying that I just 'still eat like I did when I was an athlete,' but now I think I may try and talk to a dietician.

    Thanks again for opening my eyes, and I would love to win the book!

  11. Suzanne says:

    Your story mimics my life over the past year. I've been struggling with emotional eating, followed by over-exercising, for a while now. You've definitely inspired me to make wellness, rather than weight loss, my priority. I definitely want to read this book!

  12. Amanda says:

    I'm so glad to hear that I'm not alone with my problem of emotional eating. I would love to read this book to see if it helps. Thanks!

  13. Sagan says:

    I LOVE The End of Overeating. Thank you for sharing your story. Emotional eating is really difficult to deal with, and you're right, we all deal with it on some level.

    I haven't checked out the intuitive eating book yet- it's worth getting?

  14. SantinaMT says:

    This book sounds very insightful! I personally tend to go the opposite way when it comes to emotional eating, as in I DON'T eat. I never really noticed I did this until I had hit rock bottom and lost about 30 lbs, I was down to 130 which sounds great on paper, but I looked like Skeletor with curly hair, except my hair looked bad too.
    Anyways, I decided I had disordered eating, and very bad depression and sought help. I was a Personal Trainer for about 10 years when this happened, and felt like a fraud. Well now I am better and would love to be entered into this book contest!

  15. Georgia says:

    This sounds like a good read that could help motivate me. Would love to win…

  16. Sharilyn says:

    Sounds like a fascinating read…I'd love to win it!!!!

  17. Kelsey says:

    I would love to check out this book. Thank you for sharing your story.

  18. lorrwill says:

    I have been finding "The Anderson Method" a very revealing read. I tell ya, once I identified the problem it lost a shocking amount of its power. (And the tape measure backs that up.)
    Good for you for taking the bull by the horns.

  19. mcpont says:

    I'd love to read this book! Sounds like a great read. I, along with probably the majority of people, emotionally eat from time to time. I'd like to learn how to control that.

  20. irielle says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It's an issue I'm struggling with too, and I would love to read this book.

  21. Lizzie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have stopped into Fit Bottomed Girls from time to time and I love the lighthearted take on fitness and healthiness in general, but it's great to know that no one is perfect and that others deal with the same problems I do. I've been struggling with emotional eating for as long as I can remember and I am starting to get a handle on it, but I would love to read this book to see what more I can learn.

  22. Arzu says:

    Thanks so much for sharing… I thought I was the only one who struggled like this. It's good to know there are other people with the same issues as me. I would love to enter the giveaway =)

  23. Rebeca @All Vegged Out says:

    Gosh, I need that book! Sometimes I feel like I've overcome the issues and then something big happens and I'm right back where I started- thankfully, I can at least say I stop it sooner!

  24. Andrea says:

    What a great post! I would love to read this book!

  25. BB says:

    I'd like to enter the contest!
    Seems liek that book is the book for me..

    I love your site!

    xo, BB

  26. basicallybaked says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I will definitely read those books. There has to be a better way to live than working out 6 days a week to compensate for years worth of unhealthy eating.
    If I win the book all the better.
    Kessler equating food with heroine is powerful. There are several foods that I think of as sugar and fat delivery systems. Eating them in moderation is nearly impossible. I guess my food rule should start with those.

  27. I'm Not Your Girl says:

    Thank you for sharing your personal experience and recommendation of this book! I can relate to your experience and feel it is very common. It's great to hear I'm not alone!

  28. Debbie says:

    Love to enter for this book. I've heard so much about it. Thanks!

  29. Marsha @ Green Mountain at Fox Run says:

    So glad you found intuitive eating, Jenn. We've been teaching it since the late 80s, I think, although we always called it mindful eating. It has helped so many people who've come to Green Mountain…including me!

    I think Kessler's book is a real eye-opener about the food we get in restaurants and the like. But I do think he has a pretty bad case of the diet mentality. So that although these foods are perhaps engineered to make us want them, if we decide differently (which is what setting rules is about to an extent) and feed ourselves well, and don't think of them as foods that we have no power over, they're not necessarily a real problem. Of course, that's what intuitive eating is about!

    Anyway, great post! Thanks for sharing.

  30. Jenn says:

    Hi – just found your blog today, just in time for a giveaway, whoo-hoo!
    I'd love to win the book!

  31. Metroknow says:

    I have had the Intuitive Eating book in my Amazon wish list for way too long. Thanks for such an honest, helpful post on the subject. You guys really do rock! 🙂

  32. Jody - Fit at 51 says:

    Personal stories always hit home with everyone so thx so much for sharing!

    I have had my own issues as well & when everyone expects you to be fit, it does create pressure for sure!


  33. Angela says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know it must've been difficult, because I've gone through similar issues. A couple of years ago I was underweight and obsessing about food, feeling alienated from everyone I loved and being forced to go to "treatment", dieticians and psychologists 20 hours a week.

    Now I'm at a healthy weight, but I'm still struggling with fixation on food and all that goes along with it. My weight tends to yo-yo. I'm only 21, and active, but I really want to just be done with this.

    So– I would love to enter the contest. And I'm very glad you've found peace with yourself– may it continue!

  34. katgirl_9538 says:

    jenn, thank you so much for this post! it must have been hard to share that intimate part of your life with all of us. and you are right, there are SO many of us who struggle with this on a day-to-day basis. you give the rest of us hope that we too can overcome it. this book sounds amazing, and i definitely think reading it would help me greatly to finally get control of my life back.

  35. Anne says:

    I've heard about that book before, and it sounds great. At times I struggle with a little emotional eating too, so I'd love to read this.

  36. megankortepeter says:

    I'm really interested in reading this book. A friend of mine read it and said it was life changing.

  37. runroamrecycle says:

    Wow – thank you for this post. I was in a situation very similar story to your personal trainer story, and like you, it took some big changes to shake me out of it. Emotional eating is something that is often brushed under the rug as "everyone does it", but there is a difference between what is considered "normal" and what is losing control. I think this book would be very interesting to read!

  38. Ife says:

    I would love to win the book!

    For years I would "lose" (I had nothing to do with this process, believe me) my appetite for weeks and then overeat due to anxiety that I would develop an ulcer from not eating enough. In the weeks where my appetite would return I would reduce my servings because I would feel that I had overeaten during the weeks when my appetite was gone. And on it went…talk about disordered eating.

  39. Lady Em says:

    This book sounds awesome and thank you for sharing your experience.. add me to the giveaway list!!

    Lady Em

  40. Ava says:

    Right now I'm just trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible about emotional eating and intuitive eating. I'd love to read this book!

  41. Robin says:

    This sounds like a awesome book! I am so an emotional eater!

  42. Shannon Fab Fatties says:

    What a great post! One that so many relate to. Once we can recognize the triggers we can move forward. Great advice and thanks for sharing your story and all of the great resources!

  43. Cristal says:

    This book sounds like something I need right now. I am actually excited to read something other than fiction! I'd love to win this book, if I don't…I will buy it! Congrats for overcoming overeating, I hope I can join the list!

  44. Christina says:

    Thanks for sharing your story – I'd love to read the book, I have a history of overeating as well.

  45. swirlycinnacakes says:

    thank you for this honest post. it was really insightful!

    the book sounds great too and i'd love to read it 🙂

  46. Mary says:

    I have struggled with anorexia and emotional eating for many years. I like to believe that I have no overcome most of the disordered eating of my earlier years, however, I still struggle at times.
    I would love to read this book. I have read Eating Intuitively and try very hard to keep things in moderation.
    Thanks for sharing!

  47. Jenn says:

    This post literally felt like it was coming from me. This Jenn. I feel as though I could have written it and there would be very small differences. Thank you for sharing and for providing resources. I am on the road to recovery (interestingly, it also somewhat coincides with my engagement) and would love to talk to you more about it sometime.

    ~Jenn (eating bender)

  48. janetmouse says:

    Thanks for your story…I have similar issues. Book sounds amazing!

  49. Anonymous says:

    Another excellent book on how to stop emotional eating is "Normal Eating for Normal Weight". It's also a book and a program (http://normaleating.com).

  50. Dorie says:

    I'd love to read this book! Thanks so much for sharing your story…I can relate. I definitely struggle with emotional eating, and I don't want to pass that habit along to my daughter. I want to break this destructive habit and set a good example for her!

  51. GregandJo says:

    I DID buy The End of Overeating and so far is is fantastic!! I'd like to get a "spare" copy to loan out to friends. Thank you so much for sharing your story with all of us. I want to look into the Intuitive Eating book as well, since you recommended it with conviction. ~~jo in AK

  52. jenifair says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, it really helps to hear someone else has similar problems. My triggers are stress and boredom, but mostly stress. And I have an evil, manipulative boss currently so would really like to win this book.

  53. Lose weight quick says:

    I believe emotional eating is a very important topic to cover. So many women and men suffer from it. It is a nasty cycle.


  54. choosinglosing says:

    I've heard such great thing about this book and finally have some time to read! Pick me!

  55. ONeener says:

    Your story is relatable in so many ways. Thank you for sharing your struggle. I've yo-yo'd over the years until finally confronting internal issues and stopping the excuses. Though I've started exercising regularly, I still struggle with food and emotional eating, myself. Would love to delve into the book!

  56. Michelle says:

    This is an important book that I'd like to read!! –Michelle, blogattoday (~@) gmaildotcom

  57. gwendy says:

    I'd love to read this book! Thanks for offering the contest!

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