Food & Health

Emotional Eating: What Is It And How To Curb It

There is nothing bad about enjoying delicious food. However, in stressful situations, some people use food as a coping strategy. For example, a person eats a big chocolate cake after a difficult day at work to cope with negative emotions or fatigue. Or eat a whole pizza after a losing streak at If you are familiar with such situations, then you are prone to emotional or stress eating. That means you turn to food for “help” in difficult situations to achieve mental comfort and forget about problems. And sometimes we try to reward ourselves in this way, allowing ourselves to eat more than we are normally used to. 

Physical hunger appears when the body needs to replenish wasted energy. But what is emotional hunger? Such a chaotic consumption of food is a bad habit. Most often it goes together with a stressful mental state or, on the contrary, a state of enthusiasm and high spirits. Such a habit in most cases is nothing but “eating” their problems during the absence of physical hunger. Though we all overeat from time to time, frequent stress eating can negatively affect our daily lives. 

Causes Of Emotional Eating

Situations accompanied by stress and various negative emotions contribute to the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. And it increases the feeling of hunger. Therefore, a person unconsciously reaches for another portion of food. In addition, the cause of emotional overeating, according to psychologists, may be connected to our memories from childhood. After all, almost every adult will remember how their grandmother gave him something tasty as a sign of consolation after a broken knee or for praise for a good note.

Dangers Of Emotional Eating

Stress eating isn’t an effective coping strategy. It won’t help you solve any problems. A person who uses eating as a coping strategy gets into a vicious circle of stress eating. He doesn’t solve the existing problem, eats it “up”, and after a while, the problem appears again. So this habit makes people feel hopeless and depressed.  

And people who want to lose weight know exactly what else such a habit is dangerous. Without additional snacks, a person begins to feel tired, stress levels increase, motivation for activity is lost, the desire to eat does not disappear even in the absence of hunger. These are the first manifestations of addiction, which are the easiest to notice. Similar things happen when an ardent coffee addict goes without a cup of his favorite beverage. Blood pressure changes, headaches start, fatigue appears in the muscles, brain activity becomes more sluggish and unstable, reaction to stimuli slows down. And emotional eating often turns into emotional overeating and excess weight. This is because stress or excessive joy requires a certain flavor. A person subconsciously chooses fast carbohydrates that release a large dose of endorphins.

How To Beat Emotional Eating?

If you tend to use eating as a coping strategy, try first to systematically observe your behavior. How often do you use this method of “improving your state of mind”? Do you use it frequently? Which emotional triggers make you overeat? Now it’s time to break a connection between your feelings and food with the strategies below. 

Seek A Psychologist

If you are having difficulty controlling emotional overeating, it is wise to seek the help of a psychologist or nutritionist. They can help you find effective strategies and individualized solutions to this problem.

Find Other Ways To Cope With Negative Emotions

Use such coping techniques as physical exercises, yoga, meditation, reading, journaling, or talking to a trusted person. Create a list of alternative strategies to use instead of overeating. Try to find other ways to relax and cope with stress, negative feelings, and emotional tension. 

Eat Healthy

Try to include in your diet varied and nutritious foods. A healthy diet won’t solve the problem of stress eating completely but will help you to deal with it.  Ensure a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management.

Don’t Try To Be “Perfect” And Be Kind To Yourself 

If you ate a lot, it is better to treat it as a lesson for the future and try not to make mistakes in the future. Transitioning to new strategies and changes will take time and patience. When overcoming emotional eating, focus on the positive changes you want to make in your eating behavior and believe that you will achieve your goal. After all, these changes will have a positive impact on your health. Learn to control your emotions and enjoy life without emotional eating!