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5 Tips To Beat Emotional Eating

By Elizabeth Duong

They say that a picture is worth 1000 words.
So to add a few words to each, my words would be:

Left (2015 – Pre-Enterprise – 48kgs):
– Hungry
– Tired
– Emotionally unstable
– Lonely
– Easily aggravated

Right (Jan 2018 – 60 kgs):
– Balanced
– Content
– Centred
– Self-assured
– Grateful

Most before and afters you see in our happy little fitness industry won’t tell you the full story.

You couldn’t imagine the hardship that people go through to chase this perception of perfection.

It took me a long time to realise that I wasn’t looking to be fit and healthy and look good, I just wanted to feel validated. It’s hard to admit, but it’s true.

I imagine that it comes from an upbringing where I had to get a certain mark, achieve a certain milestone or receive a certain award to be regarded as a success; fail, and be embarrassed and regarded as a disgrace.

I needed to compete, to feel like I was a success.

But when I did, the result was that my life was thrown off balance.

The 8 areas of life:

– Physical Health & Wellness
– Business & Career
– Fun & Adventure
– Financial & Wealth
– Spiritual
– Growth & Learning
– Social & Friendships
– Love & Relationships

In my circumstance, I ranked highly in only two.

Often when competitors compete, after they step off-stage, the experience what our industry refers to as ‘post-comp blowout’. It happens to the best of us.

Basically, what happens is that you’re no longer on a “plan” and you start consuming everything in sight and then afterwards, you feel this overwhelming amount of guilt for doing so. Depending on the quality of the coach, at what point your body and mind was before you decided to compete and the environment and people surrounding you, this decides how crazy your post-comp experience is -> binge-eating, eating disorders, depression, drugs you get the idea…

Sure, it could have to do with actually being hungry or your hormones, but what I’ve learnt is that it has a lot to do with your mind.

I’ve been through it too, but probably not to the extremes mentioned previously.

However, the point of my post today was to explain how I was able to overcome it:


Let’s start with whatever it was that you had the night before that you’re feeling ULTRA guilty about. So as a result, you’ll skip a few meals the next day and do some guilt cardio for 2 hours to make yourself feel better.

Ok – First let’s not call it a cheat meal, because that would imply you’re cheating yourself of a lifestyle.

Secondly, understand what were the benefits of having that meal. Was it a meal that was able to bring you closer to your family or friends (love & relationships)? Was it a meal that saved you preparation and clean up time so that you could spend that time finishing the spreadsheet that your boss wants so badly (business and career)? Was it a meal that allowed you to spend time for yourself and wind down before you return to your stressful 9-5 job the day after (spiritual).

In EVERY situation, you’ll be able to find a benefit to you having that meal and the only reason you feel guilty is because you weren’t able to see them and instead saw all of the negatives instead.

If you offset your physical health & wellness for a moment, I’m sure in that same moment, you were benefiting in another. You just have to work out what it is!

As a result, the concept of dieting, cheating or not sticking to the plan completely disappears. People ask me all the time if I feel guilty about eating something that I haven’t been ‘prescribed’. I laugh and tell them that there are no cheat meals if there’s nothing to cheat on.

>>> 2. BE GRATEFUL <<<

Understand that your body is not the only thing you have in life and therefore it shouldn’t be your only focus. If you don’t have ‘the perfect body’ I’m sure there are other things in your life that you can be grateful for.

– Having great support from your family in all that you do
– Having a loving partner
– Having a great community of friends
– Great wealth and success from work
– Etc…

Which leads me onto…

>>> 3. BE BALANCED <<<

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket because if you drop the basket, all of your eggs will break.

Those 8 areas that make up your life, invest your time into as many as you can.

Spread your eggs evenly, so that if one falls, you won’t have to buy another dozen from the supermarket.

Hopefully you guys understand the analogy I’m trying to make lol.


There was definitely a point where I was really displeased with what I saw in the mirror, even during my comp prep, I didn’t believe that I had achieved this crazy, attainable image of perfection that I had sought after for so long.

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been a lot more active on social media and have been training in crop tops more often – something that I would have never imagined doing in 2015 whilst I was 12kgs lighter…

I know I don’t have abs, I’m nowhere near the body fat % that I was when I stepped onto the stage and I’m definitely not a fitness model, but what I do have is self-love (as silly as that sounds).

Of course, I wasn’t always this way.

I had to remind myself every morning, whilst butt naked in a full-length mirror.

“Fuck I look great today”
“Wow my legs are so lean”
“My tummy is coming in slowly but surely”
“I’m actually really pretty”
“That dairy made me a bit bloated, but it’ll go away”
It would change day-to-day, but I did it religiously.

> I never lied to myself.
> I focused on the positives that I saw in my mirror.
> It was a part of my morning routine.

I still do it sometimes now, but it’s much more natural, because now, it’s almost too easy to see all of the positives.

Because I made loving the way that I look a habit.

I’d definitely invite girls/guys who are struggling with body image to try the same ritual.

>>> 5. FIND YOUR WHY <<<

For this point, I’d recommend reading ‘Find Your Why’ by Simon Sinek.

Start with finding out what your purpose is. What will make you truly, wholesomely happy in life that if you died after having attained it, you would have no regrets.

From there, relate it to your health and fitness goals.

This comes from what I learnt from Mark Ottobre and Duane Alley. About the Pyramid of Change.

I live true to my beliefs and values and so that shapes the decisions that I make in regards to everything, including my food choices.

As a result, it makes it quite easy for me to make my food choices accordingly.

I have plenty more on this topic but this post is long enough already.

Notice that none of my 5 recommendations have anything to do with training, programming, nutrition or supplementation.

Remember that having a good body is the bi-product of good health.

It’s the secret behind me being able to reverse myself out of a bad place and become the healthy, happy person.

I truly believe that if personal trainers should focus just as much on the psychology behind people just as much as they do with training and nutrition because people are not just food and muscles, humans are a lot more complex than that.

If you read to the end. Thank you for doing so.
I hope this helps. x

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