Health and Food, Relatable

How to overcome emotional eating?

5-4 MINS READ
by Harshpreet Ahuja

“Eat to fuel your body and not to feed your emotions.”

Emotional eating is the response our body makes in order to relieve the negative trigger provoked by emotions such as stress, sadness, anger and many times- boredom. This disorder is mostly experienced by women and as gaining weight is one of the prime issues we have to counter, emotional eating is a curse.

Imagine a scenario of a girl gulping down a bowl full of ice cream and crying over her break up. Easy to visualize, isn’t it? In every other movie, we tend to witness this scene. A scene majorly conveying how sadness can lead to overeating of food items like ice cream- having high sugar content and feeding your satiety. These are categorized as “comfort food”. Comfort food is food associated with sentiments such as pleasure. Other than ice cream, pancakes, lasagne, macaroni, chips, french fries are comfort food too.

According to a survey conducted in America following statistics showed-
1) 38% adults have overeaten unhealthy food to overcome stress.
2) ‎ Half of them have formed a habit of stress eating.
3) ‎ After having eaten, 49% of them reported feeling guilt and 36% of them feel lazy.

Contradictory to the fact that we forget to eat in stress, what actually drags us to eat while experiencing emotions?

A study conducted by Harvard concludes that if stress persists for a long time, instead of suppressing our urge to eat, we engulf “comfort food” for pleasure. The blame goes toCortisol,’ a hormone released by adrenal glands, which increases appetite.
Paradoxically ‎in other times when stress is acute, our appetite is lost in respond to release of another hormone that is Epinephrine.’


Why is it harmful?

“We turn to food when the times get rough. But in the end, we are left with guilt to deal.”
Emotional eating not only makes us vulnerable to obesity and associated disorders like Type 2 diabetes and eating disorders. It can also lead to mental destruction, depression, low self-esteem, lethargy, insomnia, inability to lose weight.

What can be done to overcome emotional eating?

1. Plan your day

  • Start your day on a good note. Being ungrateful to the mornings and dragging that attitude through a whole day, can leave you prone to stress and sadness.
  • Recreation and rest. Take breaks in between to relieve the build up stress. Go for a walk, listen to music and maybe shake your body a bit. Hit the shower whenever your day ends. It helps you to feel better and lends a temporary space of time to think about the possible solution of the problem you are facing.
  • Socialize. Make a list of reliable friends and put them on speed dial. The stress triggers can be quickly defused by talking about them. And who knows, maybe your friend can give you a solution or two.

2. Recognize your trigger

  • Take a pause and analyse the situation. Do you find yourself eating even though you ate just a couple hours ago? Stop right there and recognize your trigger. Try to pleasure yourself other than comfort food. It can range from exercising, meditation, simple recreational activities or take up a hobby.


  • Among a plethora of triggers, hating your own body can add to your cravings, and a vicious cycle of eating more and increasing your insecurities can be very difficult to tame. So stop measuring your negatives and work on what you can offer. Make a habit of taking care of yourself.

3. Food substitutes

  • Sometimes the only solution to our cravings is food. In order to satisfy our need and avoid unhealthy snacks, we can substitute them with other healthy or less destructive snacks.
    For example- You can substitute high sugar based food with fruits. You can go full binge eating on Oats, cashews, walnuts, dark chocolates, soy chips.
  • Also keeping a report on the variety of food you eat and when you eat, can set you back from further eating.

4. Seek professional help

If you have done everything, you might consider the possibility of turning to a professional. Therapies like Cognitive Behavioural therapy for emotional reasoning helps by explaining that the urge to eat is not merely a hunger response but a reflex to the stress experienced. They both are required to be differentiated and dealt accordingly.

Food is undeniably the most significant part of our lives. We go through a lifetime to become capable enough to get a job and feed ourself. But all the bumps in the road to ruin our motivation can cause trouble. And a great deal of irony can be set by eating in times to destroy our capabilities to earn more food.

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