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16 Ways To Feel Good That Don’t Involve Food


I started emotional eating again, focusing on how my body looks, rather than how it feels. This led to feelings of disconnection and discontent and of course, these feelings perpetuate emotional eating. It’s a vicious cycle. So, how did I stop? I made my life bigger than focusing on how I look.

When you make that your goal – rather than weight loss – food loses its grip.

I started doing things I know make me feel good that don’t involve food. Things I’d temporarily neglected because I was so focused on completing a home improvement project and busting my buns at the gym, resulting in a life that – momentarily – became very small. No wonder I was attempting to soothe myself with the contents of the cookie jar.

Today I’m sharing some of my “feel good” things with you. Please take what resonates, and leave the rest:

1. Returned to a more consistent, gentle yoga practice. Cardio and weights have their place, but it’s on the yoga mat where you’re more likely to feel a deeper connection to your body.

2. Went outside and connected with nature. Go for a walk or spend some time in the garden. Better still, go on an adventure. It doesn’t have to be a costly or far-flung experience. Find something you can do in an afternoon or a weekend.

3. Started meditating. Even two minutes makes a difference, or try starting each day with this powerful prayer: “What would you have me do? Where would you have me go? What would you have me say, and to whom?” – from “A Course In Miracles”.

4. Booked a massage. If you don’t want to do this, you could give yourself a massage. Getting used to the feel of touch can be incredibly healing.

5. Re-read “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years: How I Learned To Live A Better Story” by Donald Miller. This book will make you think hard about the story you want to tell with your life.

6. Read it in the bath. Simple pleasures are the best.

7. Arranged dates with my husband and friends – and with myself. Organize activities like seeing an exhibition or going to the theatre, a movie or a museum.

8. Volunteered. Being in service to others is a highly underrated pleasure.

9. Remembered I can’t do everything alone…and I don’t have to. So, I asked for help. If you find it difficult to ask for help, you may find Brené Brown’s talk,“The Anatomy of Trust” useful viewing.

10. Got my difficult feelings down on paper. This may not sound like something that will make you feel good, but it’s worth doing for the relief you’ll feel afterwards. Re-write your story or record the past and then release it. I recently repeated this exercise and it was cathartic: I listed every single diet I’d ever been on or every time I felt I’d “failed” my body, then I forgave myself and let it all go.

11. Similarly, talk to someone. Share you story. Or simply start with being honest. I ate three Heath bars and when my husband asked me where they were, I told him the truth. Secret eating loses its shame when it’s no longer a secret. It can also open the door to a deeper conversation.

12. Enrolled in a course. There are so many subjects to choose from and if you don’t want to attend “in person” then you can find almost every imaginable class online. Susannah Conway offers some lovely courses, and I can personally recommend her work.

13. Pulled out my painting kit and made art. Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, “Big Magic,” is a manifesto on the importance of creativity in our lives.

14. Purchased new underwear. Whilst I dread the process of shopping for lingerie, my underwear drawer was making me sad. It’s so easy to believe these things don’t carry any importance, but the items we wear and surround ourselves with carry energy and stories. Do you really feel good in that old, grey bra you’ve been wearing forever?

15. Drove to the ocean. I know it’s not possible for everyone to reach the sea, but if you can, please do. Walking through the freezing surf with the wind in my hair filled me with the joy of being alive. Find a feather and make a wish as you set it free.

16. Sent a card to someone I love – for no reason at all.

I’d love to know if you have any ideas of your own to share and what items on this list resonated with you? 

Related Article: How To Change Your Life.

The Pro-Body Project is published fortnightly. You can read the first entry here or the next entry, “Would You Scream Obscenities At Her?” here










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Esther Zimmer is an Australian writer, lifestyle coach and personal stylist based in London. She believes everyone has a calling, and it’s not necessarily just one thing. The home she shares with her husband, David, is filled with art and books, and her favorite pastime is packing a bag and heading somewhere new. Esther writes about life, relationships, body image and travel and can be found at

8 thoughts on “16 Ways To Feel Good That Don’t Involve Food”

  1. Esther – I love all of these and need to revisit quite a few of them. Thank you for making them all sound so easy, simple, and doable!
    XO Donna

    • Hi Donna – thank you so much! I’m so pleased you found this informative and hopefully useful, it’s funny how we all “know” these things, but can so easily forget to do them! Esther xx

  2. What a crazy, vicious cycle our eating habits can be! You’ve really dug deep with your series, Essie, and given us so many useful, practical things we can do. Thank you! xoxox, Brenda

  3. I agree with you on Donald Miller’s book. I loved it for its emphasis on living meaningfully and his writing advice.

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