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Monday, 29 July 2019 02:59


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Emotional eating for reasons other than hunger .i.e. in emotional eating here Your don't feel because you are hungry but you eat to satisfy some emotional need. The emotional need may be 

  1. Stress
  2. Anger
  3. Anxiety
  4. Depression
  5. Oneliness
  6. Boredom
  7. Sadness

It may sound hard to appreciate for some. No wonder that one might wonder and ask ‘’How come I eat to satisfy my one on my emotions? When did I do that? No. It’s not true’. Such a response is not surprising may arise for the simple reason that when you do emotional eating you are not aware of it because it’s usually a subconscious process i.e. you are not consciously aware that you are doing emotional eating. This is what working at subconscious level means.

Emotional eating should be differentiated from the type of eating that we do some time to pick you up or to celebrate a birthday. This is not bad and everybody does it at times. Emotional eating, however, comes into being when you unconsciously adopt eating as your way of coping with stress, anxiety or anger etc. 

Emotional Hunger

 A particular feature of emotional eating is that; in emotional hunger’ you are focused on some particular food, so called ‘comfort foods’.  Brain Wansink, Ph.D, director of Food and Brand Lab. At University of Illinois, “comforts foods are foods a person eat to obtain or maintain a feeling”.

The satisfaction you get from emotional eating is very short lived and is almost invariably followed by a feeling of guilt as afterwards you start cursing yourself for eating without actual hunger and putting unnecessary fat and cholesterol on you and thus compounding your difficulty.  But since you have developed this defense mechanism at a psychological level, you do it again whenever you are confronted with a stressful condition. You will find yourself increasingly powerless unless you are determined to shun it.

Emotional eating leads to overeating 

Overeating is an important cause of obesity. According to Jane Jakubczak, a dietitian at the University of Maryland 75% of over-eating is done because of emotions, so dealing with emotional problems is fundamental to eliminate over eating.   

If you are finding it difficult to appreciate what emotional eating is and how it comes into action, here are some points that differentiate it from actual hunger:

  1. Since ‘Emotional hunger’ is not related with having your stomach filled or empty, it comes suddenly (as you come across a stressful condition) even though you might have eaten your last meal a short while ago. Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on gradually.
  2. Actual physical hunger makes you feel eating anything-your choice is open. It is not so with ‘Emotional hunger’ which make you crave for so called ‘comfort foods’ like  fatty foods like pizza, cheesecake or sweetened beverages.
  3. In case of physical hunger, you understand your body and stop eating when your stomach is properly filled whereas emotional eating is a mindless activity. You keep on eating until the tin or plate is empty or someone makes you get up or more often, when you become uncomfortably filled.
  4. Emotional eating is usually followed by a feeling of shame or guilt as soon afterwards you realize your unhealthy behavior.


Know yourself: Are you are emotional eater?

  • Do you feel an automatic urge to eat fatty or sweet or drink a beverage when you are stressed?
  • Do you eat to allay your stress or anxiety?
  • Do you keep eating as long as you are entangled in a mental dilemma or tension?


If you feel you are indulged in emotional eating here are some of the ways to manage it:

  • One underlying causes of emotional eating is stress; adopt healthy ways to coop with stress. Remember one thing: stresses and tensions are part of life. You cannot run away from them. Learn healthy ways to manage stress.
  • Many people do it when they are sad or bored.
  • If you find difficult to completely avoid comfort foods, at least be moderate.
  • Identify the triggers emotional eating in you.

B. Environmental Factors leading to over eating¹:

Apart from emotional eating there are certain other things that unknowingly drag us into overeating.

Although people think that what they eat is mainly determined by how hungry they are, several studies indicate this is not exactly the case. 

  • Distractions such as reading or watching TV can increase consumption
  • Even if people are not hungry , simply thinking it is time to have a meal or snack is enough to cause some people to eat.
  • Many a times people overeat not because of hunger but because of friends, family  and brand names,
  • Simply observing a role-model person such as parent, friend or stranger can provide a consumption norm that may influence how much the observer eats.


These environmental factors affect most of us. This and other such things had been  rather norm in our society increasing obesity, it is high time to give a thought to this issue. The fact is that many of us need to learn how to deal with feelings without food.  



1.Brian Wansink ”Environmental contributors to obesity” Textbook of Obesity’ Chapter 6, pages 108-119. 

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