Emotional Eating- Why it Happens and How to Stop it?
Emotional Eating- Why it Happens and How to Stop it?

Emotional Eating- Why it Happens and How to Stop it?

Do I really need to eat?

"I am feeling upset/stressed, I feel like eating something."
"So many relationship struggles and family problems, but I know eating delightful food can help me."
"Yayy!! I am in good mood today, maybe I should reward myself with delectable food."

How many times do you feel this way? Or do you feel like having scrumptious food when you feel awful, desolated, happy, or you feel like eating even when you are full?
The answer is, quite many times!
This is none other than "Emotional Eating".

In such a situation, you must feel like running to a Pantry or Restaurant to have your favourite food, ordering from Zomato & Swiggy, and end up ordering more after seeing a 50% coupon. If this isn't you, then you might simply cook a scrumptious high-calorie meal in your kitchen. In this case, you might think finding comfort in food is justifiable.

But in all truth, it's not. There is a comprehensive process behind this, which first gives a short pleasurable feeling of satisfaction, and then leaves you with more disappointment in the long run.   Guilt, shame, judgment, lack of control, and low self-worth are some of the negative emotions you might battle with as you manoeuvre your relationship with food.

Negative emotions often lead to feelings of emptiness while the positive cheerful emotions you feel when you eat what you like can lead to a feeling of consuming great taste and makes you want to eat more. To follow those feeling, you tend to overeat and from there the process of dissatisfaction and discontentment with yourself starts, which is like this:

Something happens that makes you want to eat.
You eat more than you should.
After some time, you feel guilty for eating more because you know the consequences.

  • You consume an extraordinary amount of calories.
  • The weight keeps packing on, and this makes you feel powerless over food and your feelings.
  • You feel helpless and you'll soon realize you need to find other coping mechanisms to deal with life and what's happening to you. This calls for introspection, the need to explore the real cause of overeating, and the need to find a “practical" solution that works for you.

Emotional Hunger Vs. Physical Hunger 

To address emotional hunger, you need to understand the difference between Emotional Hunger and Physical Hunger.

• Emotional hunger comes on suddenly and on an urgent basis while Physical hunger comes gradually and doesn't demand instant satisfaction.

• Emotional hunger craves for specific comfort food while in Physical hunger everything sounds good.

• Emotional hunger isn't satisfied once you are done, you keep on wanting more and more while Physical hunger doesn't demand to overeat.

• Emotional hunger often leads to regret and guilt while with Physical hunger you don't feel these negative emotions.

• Emotional hunger you can't get out of your head while Physical hunger is located in your belly.

To avoid the looming discontentment after trying to give yourself satisfaction driven by Emotional hunger, you need to identify whether it is Emotional or Physical hunger?


Tips to take control of Emotional Eating 

You can heed to following tips to take control over emotional eating and not succumb to your emotions.

1. Find distinct ways to nurture your feelings-  Replacing Emotional hunger is not at all easy, but you need to try. 
- If you feel sad, can you talk to someone who always makes you feel better?
- If you feel anxious, divert your emotions in dancing or doing your favourite activity.
- If you are feeling excited, go out for a walk or meet with your favourite people.
- Most importantly learn to accept your feeling and know that not every solution or mood ends with eating comfort food.

2. Support yourself with healthy lifestyle habits.
When you are physically strong and mentally peaceful you tend to deal more with such feelings. In cases like this-
- Make exercise a priority.
- Aim for 8 hours of sleep.
- Connect with close relations and engage in social activities.

3. Start a Food Diary - Log your consumption patterns be it a heavy meal or munching, this can help you a lot in tracking your Emotional hunger, and in the case of consultation with your health providers, you can show this to your Doctor/Dietitian for better examination.

4. Pay attention to Volumes- When you feel the sudden urge of eating, don't opt for large volumes, instead try smaller portions and limit yourself to them.

5. Oust distractions- Most of the time, in the influence of Television, Netflix, or some other distraction you tend to keep on eating. In such cases, try to expel these distractions. This way you can mind map the hunger and restrict yourself from overeating.

For a while, satisfying Emotional hunger seems the right fit but addressing the feeling behind the hunger is important in long run. Don't keep on ignoring it and find the “Why” behind "I am feeling upset/stressed, I feel like eating something." This will be helpful in the long run and will be helpful to better manage your eating behaviour.

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