How to Break the Cycle of Emotional Eating and Back Tension

How to Break the Cycle of Emotional Eating and Back Tension

Identify the Root Cause

Emotional eating can be hard to stop. There are many reasons why we do it. First, we need to work out what started it. Once we know why we eat when we’re sad, we can start to make changes and not do it anymore.

Identify the underlying emotion

To break away from emotional eating, it’s essential to identify the emotion underneath it. Think back to when you began this pattern. Consider topics that may have caused it:

  • Childhood experiences
  • Traumatic events
  • People around you
  • Your environment
  • Relationships

The goal is two-fold. Recognize the negative emotions that make you turn to food for comfort and accept yourself. Even if you weren’t mindful of it at the time, it’s okay to embrace without guilt.

Become aware of the triggers and learn techniques to address them healthily. Examples are deep breathing, PMR, healthy self-talk, and meditation. These activities help release physical tension caused by unresolved emotions. By understanding each incident, you can better understand why it affects you today and create a plan for sustainable coping mechanisms.

Find the source of the underlying emotion

People often turn to food when feeling overwhelmed. Emotional eating can lead to unhealthy relationships with food and being overweight or obese. Identify the root cause of your feelings. Talk with a trusted family member or friend, or a therapist or counselor. Consider keeping a journal to track your moods.

Deep breathing exercises, yoga stretches, and quick walks can help relieve tension. Recognize patterns and become mindful eaters. This journey takes patience, but it is worth it!

Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Breaking the cycle of emotional eating and back tension can be tough. But with the correct tools and methods, it is doable to find healthier coping strategies. Making healthy coping mechanisms can be an empowering way to handle the negativity and stress that usually causes emotional eating and back tension.

In this article, we will look at how to begin with healthy coping mechanisms:

Identify healthier coping strategies

Breaking the cycle of emotional eating and back tension requires understanding the emotions that lead to certain behaviours. Identifying our feelings and how they relate to our actions can help us find healthier alternatives for coping. For example, when feeling overwhelmed, anxious or angry people may reach for comfort food.

Healthier ways of handling these negative feelings could include:

  • Going for a walk or run
  • Practising relaxation techniques (e.g. deep breathing)
  • Doing yoga or tai chi
  • Listening to music or podcasts
  • Meditating
  • Talking to supportive friends and family
  • Doing creative activities such as crafting or journaling
  • Taking care of pets

Creating a list of possible options when feeling triggered emotionally can be helpful. This is like an “emotional toolbox”, offering alternatives to food as a way of coping with stress or intense emotions, which may lead to unhealthy patterns and back tension.

Practice healthy coping strategies

Breaking the cycle of emotional eating and back tension requires healthy coping strategies, such as:

  • Deep breathing can help reduce stress hormones and create a sense of calm.
  • Mindfulness helps lift ourselves out of unhealthy cycles by taking a step back from the situation and reflecting on how we are feeling.
  • Slowing down helps us become more mindful and conscious of our needs.
  • Self-soothing behaviors can provide comfort through distraction or replacement activities.
  • Recognizing destructive patterns allows us to take steps towards healthier habits.
  • Pay attention to body messages/cues rather than masking underlying emotions with food intake or other negative coping mechanisms.

Manage Stress

Stress is often linked to emotional eating and back tension. To break the pattern, managing stress levels is key. You can try deep breathing, exercise and mindfulness. These techniques can help reduce stress. They can also help break the cycle of emotional eating and back tension. Let’s explore how:

  • Deep breathing
  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness

Practice mindful breathing

Mindful breathing can be a great way to relieve pressure in your mind and body. It’s a simple strategy, yet it can help you control your thoughts and restore calm. Focus solely on your breath as you inhale and exhale. This will help you notice when you start feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

To practice mindful breathing, find a comfortable position and close your eyes if possible. Concentrate on your breath as it passes through your nose or mouth. Notice any changes in sensations or temperature. Observe without judgment the cycle of each breath. Do this for a few minutes or until symptoms start to decrease. You can repeat this exercise whenever you need to – multiple times a day if desired.

Participate in activities that reduce stress

Stress can both cause and result from emotional eating and back tension. That’s why it’s essential to take action to lower your stress levels. Doing activities that reduce stress can help control emotional triggers and physical pain from back tension.

There are many approaches to reduce stress. Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, tai chi, mindfulness meditation, journaling and visualization techniques can be helpful. Furthermore, regular exercise can help manage stress and enhance physical well-being. Walking, jogging, swimming or biking are activities that can relax you and give your heart a workout. Gardening or taking up a hobby can also help reduce stress while giving you a sense of accomplishment when tasks are done.

When it comes to reducing stress levels, what works for you is the key. If one way doesn’t do the trick, it’s alright! Try different activities until you find something that you like doing and makes you relaxed afterwards. Focus on doing things that you find enjoyable, so it’s easier to make them part of your daily routine!


Exercise is a great way to break the emotional eating cycle and back tension. Endorphins, the hormones that make us happy and reduce stress, are created when we exercise. Emotional eating can also be stopped by strengthening our back muscles and reducing the tension and pain.

Let’s delve deeper into how exercise can help with this issue.

Find an exercise routine that works for you

Discovering an exercise plan that works for you is essential to breaking the cycle of emotional eating and back tension. It’s well-known that exercising can improve your physical and mental well-being, plus provide therapeutic benefits. You can join a gym, go swimming, go jogging, or take part in yoga classes – all of these activities can help you stay away from emotional eating and give your body relief from chronic back pain.

It’s important to make sure your exercise routine suits your lifestyle. Split it into short parts throughout the day, so you can add movement when it’s easy. For instance, if you’re always on the go with your phone in hand, take a couple of minutes between checking emails and social media posts for a quick workout. This could be 10 minutes of stretching or squats when you’re waiting for an appointment.

Doing activities that make you feel good physically and mentally can reduce stress levels and long-term back issues; but pick something you enjoy, so exercising adds value to your life, instead of feeling dull or like a chore. Don’t be scared to try new activities until you find one that meets your needs – and don’t overlook the importance of restorative care such as regular massage treatments and self-care practices like meditation!

Incorporate stretching and relaxation techniques

Stretching and relaxation techniques can break the cycle of emotional eating. They help relieve back tension and promote a feeling of wellbeing.

Start the day with stretching. It loosens tight muscles, lengthens them and improves range of motion. Do it slowly with deep breathing. Relaxation techniques like meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and adapted yoga are useful for relieving tension and calming the mind. Practice these activities for 10 – 20 minutes each day. Pay attention to your breath when practicing mindfulness or meditation.

Mindful eating practices can reduce emotional eating by paying attention before putting food into the body. This will replace negative coping mechanisms with positive ones.

Address Back Tension

Back tension is a frequent complaint of those who have difficulty with emotional eating. It can come from inadequate posture, long periods of sitting, and not exercising. If it’s not treated, chronic back pain could be the result.

Knowing the reasons and how to deal with them is essential for stopping the cycle of emotional eating and back tension.

Identify the source of the back tension

To get rid of back tension and stop emotional eating, you need to know the cause. It may come from physical or emotional stress. Physical sources include:

  • bad posture when sitting for long times;
  • straining muscles during sports;
  • falls;
  • and bad sitting when you drive far.

Emotional stress can be caused by

  • family arguments,
  • job stress,
  • financial worries,
  • and changes like moving.

You must find the source of your tension. You may have to make changes like

  • eating better,
  • exercising,
  • and getting more sleep.

You should also talk to a therapist to deal with emotional stuff. And follow your doctor’s advice.

Practice self-massage techniques

Self-massage is an excellent way to break the cycle of emotional eating and back tension. It relaxes the neck and shoulder muscles, which can become sore from hunching over. It also increases circulation, adds to wellbeing, and improves posture.

When doing self-massage to relieve back tension, focus on stretching, kneading, pressing, rolling, or rubbing your body with your fingers or a tool. Use gentle pressure on tense areas, then increase pressure where needed. For best results, do self-massage daily or weekly.

Start with a few simple stretches:

  • Lie on the floor on your stomach. Lift each leg towards your chest. Keep both feet together and straighten the knees.
  • Stand up straight and step one foot forward. Keep both feet flat on the ground. Lunge down until you are in a deep squat. Do this 10 times for each leg.

Once you feel more relaxed, massage different parts of your body with circular motions. Massage neck muscles in circles. Reach behind your midback area from side to side. Rub underneath collarbone areas. Use thumb press technique at your lower back near the spine.

Don’t forget to relax while doing self-massage. Take deep breaths or focus on calming thoughts. Self-massage is a great form of relaxation therapy. It allows you to take control of your physical wellbeing and find emotional balance.

Seek professional help if needed

Chronic back tension or emotional eating? Seek help from a medical or mental health professional. A doctor or physical therapist can guide you with exercises for reducing muscle tension, and medicines for easing pain and inflammation. Moreover, a mental health expert specializing in nutrition can teach mindful eating and provide healthy coping strategies for stress.

If your back tension is related to a psychological disorder, like anxiety, depression or chemical brain imbalance, it’s best to consult a mental health specialist. They have expertise to correctly diagnose and treat the condition, as well as access to the latest research-backed medications. Finding the right treatments and medications may take time, but it’s important to get help from a qualified professional you can trust.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is emotional eating and why is it harmful?

A: Emotional eating is a coping mechanism where an individual eats in response to emotional stress rather than hunger. It can lead to weight gain, negative body image, and a unhealthy relationship with food.

Q: How does emotional eating relate to back tension?

A: Emotional eating often involves stress and tension, which can lead to physical symptoms such as back tension or pain. This can become a cycle as the physical discomfort then triggers more emotional eating.

Q: How can I break the cycle of emotional eating and back tension?

A: Mindful eating, regular exercise, stress reduction techniques such as meditation or deep breathing, and seeking therapy can all be helpful in breaking this cycle.

Q: How can I distinguish between emotional hunger and physical hunger?

A: Emotional hunger tends to come on suddenly and crave specific comfort foods, while physical hunger comes on gradually and can be satisfied by a variety of foods.

Q: What are some healthy coping mechanisms for emotional stress?

A: Engaging in activities such as exercise, hobbies, or socializing, and practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga or mindfulness can be helpful in managing emotional stress without turning to food.

Q: Can professional help be beneficial in breaking the cycle of emotional eating and back tension?

A: Yes, a therapist or registered dietitian specializing in this area can provide additional support and guidance in breaking this cycle and developing healthier habits.

the back recovery program by alex larsson
Jane Smith is a natural health enthusiast on a mission to uncover effective methods for achieving pain-free living. Through her personal journey with chronic back pain, she has become well-versed in holistic approaches such as yoga, Pilates, and essential oils.

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