Emotional Eating and Its Psychological Dimensions


Emotional eating is a common phenomenon. You might have often heard phrases like, “I eat when I am bored,” This behavior is not driven by physical hunger; but by emotions. While everyone may occasionally indulge in emotional eating, when it becomes a frequent occurrence, it’s time to recognize it as a problem. Stress significantly influences the choices between healthy and unhealthy foods, playing a pivotal role in the psychology of weight gain. Eating is primarily for nourishment, yet some individuals develop an emotional connection with food. Let’s delve into the psychology of weight gain and explore why people turn to food to soothe their emotions.

How to Recognize Emotional Eating Triggers

Identifying the emotions or situations that may lead to overeating is crucial in maintaining the ideal weight. Overeating is always the consequence of an unsatisfied need. Whenever you find yourself wanting to run away and find refuge in food, pause and reflect on the emotion that’s nudging you in this direction. It might be 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Stress
  • Boredom
  • Loneliness

Moreover, the more you rely on food as a coping mechanism for your emotional needs, the stronger this habit becomes.

When Does Emotional Eating Become a Disorder?

Emotional eating itself is not a disorder. The thoughts that are triggered by overeating send you into immoderate behaviors, e.g. “I may as well keep going now”. This leads to catastrophic thinking about weight gain and social image and you will be trapped in a cycle of guilt and shame. Binge eating is a type of disordered eating that arises from irregular eating patterns to begin with. Furthermore, poor nutrition, irregular meal timings, and obsessive thoughts about food drive emotional eating towards eating disorders. 

Find Alternative Ways to Cope With Emotional Eating

Once you know the reasons for your emotional eating, you can explore other healthier approaches to satisfy your unmet emotional needs rather than binge eating. Practice conscious self-reflection and distract yourself with other appealing activities. Deep breathing may help you even more than you think. Give your body and mind a break, change your environment, go outside, and do meditation. You can pass through this emotional turbulence phase by reading, watching, or talking to a friend who will keep you distracted.

Get The Support You Need:

Healing from emotional eating habits doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes becomes impossible without professional help. There’s nothing embarrassing about asking for help from a friend a family member or a therapist. They can help you find out the triggers and underlying emotional problems and guide you to overcome emotional challenges.

Do you also suffer from mindless eating? Do you also find it difficult to manage your emotions and find solace in food? It is time you take it seriously find alternative solutions to your emotional eating and seek help if needed. As they say, “Face your stuff. Don’t stuff your face”.   

Wendy Thompson
Wendy Thompson
Wendy is a yoga instructor and a holistic health practitioner with a decade of experience. Her primary goal is to inspire women to embrace holistic health practices. She enjoys sharing content about the mind-body connection and educating women about nutrition and healthy diets. 

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