Am I Hungry? A Guide to Emotional Eating

June 25, 2024
What is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating occurs when we eat to fill an emotional need instead of a nutritional or hunger-based one. This can happen for a variety of reasons - something happy (like celebrating a birthday or work promotion), unhappy (like the loss of a friend or loved one), or even from things like boredom or when we're tired. Some studies suggest that up to 80% of people emotionally eat at times!

To tackle emotional eating, one of the best things to do is to check in with yourself. Try asking yourself "Am I Hungry?" before you reach for food. This can help differentiate between physical hunger and emotional cravings. Think of physical hunger as a signal from your gut - perhaps a growling stomach, a sense of physical emptiness, feeling weak - usually this sensation happens gradually about every 4-6 hours and really any food will do (think baby carrots or lean chicken). Emotional hunger often feels urgent, where it feels like ice cream or chips are the only things that will satisfy.

What Can I Do?

If true hunger is not there, try to identify the emotion driving that urge to eat. Remember that common emotions like boredom, loneliness, or stress may require a different strategy to combat them- something like journaling, engaging in a new hobby, or even physical activity (like walking) can be a major help.

Create a toolbox of activities to reach for when that urge to emotionally eat arises. While occasional emotional eating is normal, the goal is to reduce how frequently it happens. Think mindfully and make that awareness a part of your daily routine! 

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that have read on this blog or in any linked materials. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before starting new diet, supplement, medication, exercise, or other health plan. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or emergency services immediately. The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website belong that only of the author of that blog article and not any organizations they may represent.
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