What Is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is the process of eating food to help make yourself feel better.  You are basically eating not because you are hungry but because you want to fill an emotional need.  If you have ever found yourself diving into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream when you are sad, this is emotional eating.

Young woman eating a burger

There are several differences between emotional and physical hunger.  Emotional hunger will develop all of a sudden whereas physical hunger gradually comes on.  Emotional hunger is a feeling that needs to be addressed right away whereas physical hunger usually can wait a bit.


There are many common causes of emotional eating.  These common causes include stress, emotions like fear, loneliness, anger and sadness, boredom, social influences and childhood habits.


Identifying your trigger for emotional eating is the first step to putting a stop to it.  By keeping an eating diary, you can usually find out what triggers your emotional eating.  Keep track of all of the foods you eat and your mood at the time.


If you find yourself engaging in emotional eating, try other alternatives when the mood strikes.  For example, if you find yourself depressed or lonely, play with your pet of call a special friend.  If you are anxious, squeeze a stress ball or dance to your favorite song.  For feelings of boredom, watch a comedy show or read an interesting book.  For that tired feeling, take a bubble bath or enjoy a cup of hot tea.



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