Health & Wellness

Emotional Eating: Take Notice of These Triggers and Symptoms

There’s eating, and then there’s emotional eating. Emotional eating means just what the name implies: someone eats when they’re emotional. And many of us have done just that at one time or another. I’ve cried into a big tub of chocolate ice cream while wallowing over the ending of a long-term romantic relationship. And I have a friend who buys bag after bag and bottle after bottle of snacks and sodas when she’s having a stressful week at work. While it’s true that food can be very comforting, like eating a bowl of chicken noodle soup when we’re feeling under the weather, emotional eating can become too routine when we’re trying to run away from specific feelings. And too much emotional eating is unhealthy eating. The type of eating that’s healthy stems from physical hunger. Take notice of these emotional eating triggers and symptoms.

  • You go from not being hungry at all to immediately feeling famished. And wanting to eat NOW. Physical hunger is a steady progression.
  • You crave an exact food, like fried chicken. Physical hunger considers a variety of foods and food groups.
  • You experience an emotion, like sadness or anger, at the same time you choose to eat. Physical hunger stems from need, like when it’s been several hours since you last ate.
  • Robotic eating. You might not be aware that you ate an entire bag of chips until the bag is empty. Physical hunger involves awareness and deliberate decision making.
  • You keep eating even if you’re full. Physical hunger stops when you’re full.
  • To you, eating equals guilt. You eat to feel better then beat yourself up for overeating. Physical hunger is necessary eating.

If you’re feeling angry, anxious, bored, stressed, etc. and you want to reach for food, you can choose to do something that you know will make you feel better, like calling a friend, doing your favorite workout, reading a book, taking a bubble bath, etc. Awareness is key to emotional eating!