Coping with Eating Emotions & Feelings

Coping with Eating, Emotions and Feelings

We often eat in response to our feelings. Other than hunger we eat due to boredom, loneliness, happiness, sadness or anger. Excessive eating can result in weight gain. Identifying triggers and learning self-control helps prevent lapses and will aid weight management.

Becoming aware of the signs of physical hunger and emotional hunger will help you cope with eating when only truly hungry.

Emotional Hunger

  • Comes on suddenly.
  • You are eating to fill a void that isn’t related to an empty stomach.
  • You crave unhealthy foods such as pizza or ice-cream and only that food will meet your need.
  • You are more likely to keep eating even when you are full.
  • Emotional eating can leave you feeling guilty.

Physical Hunger

  • Occurs gradually.
  • You eat because you are hungry, you are open to options.
  • When you eat because you are hungry, you are more likely to stop when you are full.
  • No feelings of guilt after you have eaten.

Tips on coping with emotional eating

  1. Pause and ask yourself ‘Am I really hungry?’
  2. Keep a food diary.
  3. Make a ‘trigger’ list – what causes you to emotionally eat?
  4. Limit temptation.
  5. Make a list of distractions – what can you do instead of eating, e.g. go for a walk, phone a friend or listen to music.
  6. Drink a glass of water.
  7. If you continue to struggle with emotional eating – consider seeking professional help.


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