How To Stop Emotional Eating And Take Control Of Your Health


By Sreejan Guha Niyogi Last Updated:

How To Stop Emotional Eating And Take Control Of Your Health

Have you just gone through a breakup and feel that potato chips and ice cream are your best friends? Did you grab a box of chocolates just because you are feeling lonely?

Often the strongest cravings for food creep in when you feel emotionally vulnerable. Consciously or unconsciously, you may give in to your cravings, indulging in luscious munchies. But when this rare occurring turns into a rooting habit, that is when you have a serious problem.

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Emotional eating causes weight gain problems, opens windows to other related disorders, provokes restlessness, restricts weight loss and often pushes one into depression. The good news is that you can get over your emotional food cravings.

What causes emotional eating?  

Rather than dealing with our feelings and emotions, we search for a diversion and there comes in food, offering us an easy escape. This is emotional eating. It is the time when you eat without feeling physically hungry, just to satisfy some emotion within you.

Emotional hunger cannot be filled with food. Eating in such a situation just supresses your feelings and makes you feel good at that moment. The common triggers include- stress, unemployment, financial pressure, relationship conflicts, health issues, childhood habits, boredom, and loneliness.

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Difference between emotional eating and physical hunger

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The primary difference between emotional eating and physical hunger is: the former is activated by appetite, resulting from the cramping in stomach walls, and the latter is generated from discomfort in certain regions of the brain.

Though the difference is clearly distinguishable, often it leads to confusion, especially when sentiments and cravings are clouding your judgments. Learn the differences well and refrain from making the same mistakes.

  • Emotional hunger sets on suddenly, while appetite takes time to build. During emotional hunger, irrespective of the time lag between your last meals, you feel an urgent need to find food.
  • It is satiated only by specific 'comfort' foods. Emotional hunger generally makes you crave for fatty and sugary food items that give you an instant rush.

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  • It triggers mindless eating. You keep pushing down food even when your stomach is full.
  • It is not related to the stomach and is not terminated once you are full.  
  • Emotional hunger leads to regret and depression. It might be an escape from your feelings the time you are eating, but once you stop, your feelings might hit back.

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How to stop emotional eating

#1. Identify you have a problem

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It is important to realise that you have the problem of emotional eating. Realise that your appetite is never satisfied even when you are full. Acceptance is the key to recovery, remember that!

#2. Keep an emotional eating diary

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The key step forward towards solving emotional eating is identifying your triggers and retracing their patterns. Maintain and update your emotional diary, filling up with details of your emotional status and its connection to food cravings. Once you reveal the root cause of your problem, you can march towards recovery.

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#3. Confront your feelings

Stop running away from your feelings and confront them in reality. Learn to accept who you are. If you are anxious, expend some of your nervous energy via vigorous physical movements that will calm you down. If you are exhausted, find amusement in alternate sources such as music or a good movie. If boredom or loneliness is your constant companion, try interacting with people instead of making friends with no-good fried foods.

#4. Fight your temptation

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Your will is the most important medicine behind any recovery. If you want to restore your system to normal functioning, say goodbye to junk food!

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#5. Pause when you feel hungry

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Pause when cravings hit. Take a few minutes to think whether you feel like eating because you are bored, lonely, stressed out or something else. Expand the intervals between trash eating if you cannot stop it altogether. Exhaust your supplies and do not refill. 

#6. Look for healthier options

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To feed your emotional hunger sharks, look for healthier food options instead of blindly indulging in sugary and fatty foods. These options will keep your weight and health under a check. Keep your kitchen stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables. When hunger strikes, opt for a fruits, a salad or fresh fruit juice.

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Apart from these, sleep well and follow a regular exercise regime to keep yourself fit and healthy. Exercising is a stress-buster and helps to elevate your mood. Realise your problem or those around you, and use these simple tips to overcome the problem of emotional eating.


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