The Causes of Emotional Eating and How to Avoid Them

When we eat, we don’t necessarily do it to fulfill bodily hunger. Many of us also use food as a source of comfort, stress reduction, or a way to treat ourselves. In these situations, we are more likely to go for junk food, candies, and other comforting but unhealthy items. When you’re feeling down, you may go for a pint of ice cream, order a pizza if you’re bored or lonely, or stop at a drive-through after a long day at work to satisfy your sweet tooth. Emotional eating is the act of consuming food to make oneself feel better to satisfy emotional demands rather than physical hunger. Unfortunately, emotional eating does not provide a solution to emotional issues. Most of the time it makes you feel worse. Afterward, not only does the initial emotional problem persist, but you also feel guilty for overindulging in the food you were craving.

Stopping emotional eating is possible

Emotional hunger is difficult to alleviate with food alone. Though eating to alleviate bad emotions may be effective in the short term, eating to alleviate negative emotions often leaves individuals feeling worse than they did before. Most of the time, this cycle will not be broken unless a person confronts their emotional demands straight on.

Make use of your whole body.

Getting regular exercise may provide alleviation for some individuals. A short stroll or jog around the block, or even a quick yoga practice, maybe beneficial at especially emotional times.

Yoga was prescribed for 9 weeks in one research, and the participants were expected to participate. The students were then evaluated on their awareness and insightful understanding — in other words, their knowledge of themselves and the circumstances in which they found themselves. The findings revealed that practicing yoga daily may be a helpful preventive strategy for reducing emotional states such as anxiety and sadness.

Find other methods of dealing with stress

Learning to cope with unpleasant emotions differently is often the first step in overcoming emotional eating behaviors. This may be anything from writing in a diary to reading a book to just taking a few minutes to unwind and decompress from the day’s events. It takes time to change your mentality from reaching for food to participating in other kinds of stress release, so try a range of activities to see which ones work best for you in the beginning.

Understanding the distinction between emotional hunger and physical hunger

Before you can break away from the pattern of emotional eating, you must first learn to differentiate between emotional hunger and physical hunger, which is a skill that can be learned. This may be more difficult than it seems, particularly if you are used to using food to cope with your emotions. The sensation of emotional hunger may be quite strong, and it is easy to confuse it with physical hunger.