Emotional Eating Explained


We all need to eat in order to live. It’s a biological necessity and, in the long run, maintaining your body’s health and well-being literally depends on a steady intake of proper calories. Food is the fuel that our bodies run on, and without it we would gradually slow and, eventually, grind to a complete stop. So naturally, when we’re hungry – we eat. But some people also tend to eat when they are lonely, tired, stressed, or simply bored. That’s known as emotional eating and may affect millions of people across the country, though estimates vary widely among researchers.

Getting A Handle On Emotional Eating

Broken down into simplest terms, emotional eating is actually not so much about being hungry as it is about your feelings prior to taking that initial bite. Binge eating until you’re overstuffed, or continuing to eat even though the food no longer brings you pleasure are clues that something other than hunger is driving your behavior.

Studies have shown that emotional eating does tend to temper the feelings of stress, boredom, and loneliness subjects felt prior to eating, which, unfortunately, only reinforces the behavior. On the other hand, eating to escape feelings like depression or anger did not work. In fact, it often lead to additional bouts of guilt and self-hatred.

That’s why it’s important to examine your mood or circumstances before you head for the pantry or refrigerator. You might also consider taking notes or keeping a journal in order to maintain a more accurate record, and over time chances are you’ll probably see a pattern start to develop. If you can identify these stressors in your life, whatever they may be, and learn to deal with them you stand an excellent chance of drastically reducing your emotional eating episodes. That may mean you eliminate the triggers completely, train yourself to react differently to them, or seek outside help from a counselor, but recognizing and dealing them will help you regain control of your eating and get back to a healthier eating lifestyle.