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Slow Emotional Eating

MeeSlow eating is when you try to eat slowly. Slow eating is a form of mindful eating. It is relaxing, it is self-soothing, it is self-indulgent. You take your time. You put the utensils down in between the bites. You look around and sip wine as you go. You enjoy a good view and good company.

Slow Emotional Eating (SEE), to coin a term, is when you make a conscious choice to eat to cope and you incorporate the slow-eating-know-how. Typically, stress eating is rushed. You feel like you can’t wait to relax so you inhale whatever is in front of you and then you are done. But you don’t feel done – you ate too fast. Maybe you feel a little better, but you want more time with this pacifier. And that’s where slow eating naturally comes in. The following is a list of slow emotional eating suggestions to leverage the most coping per calorie:

  • Give yourself the permission to cope by eating.
  • Start with a few humful breaths as the first course.
  • Allow yourself to indulge on quality not quantity: Eat only what you want to eat, no point in compromising a moment of self- indulgence.
  • Take your time: Set an alarm clock for at least ten or twenty minutes and claim this entire eating time as yours.
  • If possible, get some company (but agree to focus on food and not turn this slow emotional eating into a therapy session).
  • If possible, find a place with a view: If necessary, bundle up so that you can sit on outside or just drag your chair up to the window.
  • Use some choice awareness or pattern interruption tricks to keep your mind awake: for example, try a non-dominant hand or wrong or unfamiliar utensils to slow down the hand-to-mouth mechanics.
  • Make a point to put down the utensils.
  • Make a point to catch your breath in between the mouthfuls and mindfuls.
  • Take a few moments to deconstruct your eating into tasting, savoring and actual eating (see Eating the Moment, Somov 2008 for details).
  • Give yourself the permission not to finish anything, you don’t have to clean your plate.
  • If you want a desert, have a desert but do finish with the desert of relaxation, have yourself a few humful breaths before you get up from the table.

To sum up: Stress eating is stressful. Stress eating, or classic emotional eating, is rushed. As such, it creates stress – you eat to de-stress but you end up stressing out about how much you just mindlessly ate.  If you are a stress eater, I encourage you to make a shift from ineffective stress eating to effective (slow) stress management eating. How?  By taking your time to eat slowly, to cope mindfully, i.e. to manage your stress by eating effectively.  SEE* the difference!

*SEE – Slow Emotional Eating

Excerpt from Mindful Emotional Eating (Somov, 2015)

References: Choice Awareness Training: Logotherapy and Mindfulness for Treatment of Addictions (Pavel Somov)

Slow Emotional Eating

Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

Pavel Somov, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice and the author of 7 mindfulness-based self-help books. Several of his books have been translated into Chinese, Dutch & Portuguese. Somov is on the Advisory Board for the Mindfulness Project (London, UK). Somov has conducted numerous workshops on mindfulness-related topics and appeared on a number of radio programs. Somov's book website is and his practice website is

Marla Somova, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Pittsburgh, PA. She is the co-author of "Smoke Free Smoke Break" (2011).

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APA Reference
Somov, P. (2015). Slow Emotional Eating. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2019, from


Last updated: 10 Feb 2015
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