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Emotional Eating: When Emotions Affect Your Appetite

Have you ever felt sad or angry and then you looked for good food? Be careful, you might be experiencing emotional eating. At that time, food may calm your mind and release your stress for a moment. Eating when emotions can make the amount of food you eat uncontrolled and cause weight gain.

What is emotional eating?

Emotional eating is when you use food as a way to overcome your emotions, not eat because you are hungry. When you are angry, sad, stressed, etc., some of you may be looking for food to calm your emotions. Food is usually used as a distraction. At this time, you choose to just eat so that you get comfort compared to thinking about your problem or the conditions that hurt you.

During stress, the body experiences an increase in the hormone cortisol in response to stress. Today, you also experience an increase in appetite as an effort by the body to provide the energy needed to respond to stress. In the end, you will look for food to give you comfort.

Emotional eating is usually associated with negative feelings, such as when you are feeling lonely, sad, anxious, afraid, angry, bored, or stressed. These emotions usually cause you to eat more without thinking of any food and how much you eat. If this is done continuously, not closing the possibility of emotional eating can affect your body weight, health, and overall well-being.

The danger of uncontrolled appetite due to emotions

A high appetite after feeling emotional can lead to an unbalanced or excessive diet, this condition can make blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and body weight increase and irregular.

This will occur due to several things, namely:

  • Emitting emotions makes the body release excess energy

After going through a period of emotional drain, we will indeed feel hungry because of the large and sudden use of energy in the body.

This condition makes the body feel like eating foods that are able to replace energy quickly, whereas it may actually be enough to meet daily needs from the usual meal schedule or energy reserves in the body.

  • Hunger due to emotions tends to make the body crave large amounts of unhealthy food

The body's desire to immediately replace energy quickly will be natural if it makes us want to eat foods that are sweet, savory, and high in calories.

For example sweet chocolate, packaging snacks or fast food. With emotions that are going up and down, appetite becomes uncontrolled so we will consume these foods in large portions.

The choice of types and portions of improper foods that make the intake of sugar, salt, sodium, and calories in the body becomes more excessive. Furthermore, this condition will affect various blood levels in the body to cause an increase in body weight.

Emotional eating can be formed from childhood

40% of individuals tend to eat more during stress, while around 40% eat less, and the remaining 20% experience no change in the amount of food when stressed.

This emotional diet can be formed indirectly from childhood. For example, parents offer you food when you are sad, lonely, or angry to calm you down and make you feel comfortable. In addition, parents who often reward your favorite food when you succeed in achieving something also contribute to emotional eating behavior. Therefore, do not make food a gift or punishment for your child.

What's the difference with binge-eating?

The difference is in the amount of food consumed. In people with emotional eating, maybe he can eat moderate to large amounts and he eats it with emotional feelings. Meanwhile, people with binge-eating can spend larger amounts of food.

Binge-eating also has repeated episodes of eating. In addition, they also eat faster, hide the amount of food they eat because they feel embarrassed, and feel guilty after doing binge-eating.

How do you deal with emotional eating?

Because the impact of emotional eating can make your health worse. Instead, overcome emotional eating in this way:

Learn to recognize hunger

Before you start eating, you should ask yourself if you eat because you really feel hungry. Usually, if you feel really hungry, you will feel signs, such as the stomach feels "rumbling", difficult to concentrate, and easily angry. If you don't feel really hungry, maybe you can delay your meal later.

Make a note

You can reduce your emotional eating habits by making a note of eating. In the note, you can write down what foods you eat, your mood when you eat, whether you are really hungry at that time, and at what time you eat. You can study your notes. If you find time when you overeat when your feelings are emotional, then at other times you can avoid them more. You can release your emotions before eating, you can walk or do your favorite activities, this method is healthier.

Find other activities as an escape from your emotions

If you are emotional and want to eat, you should immediately find other activities that can calm you, such as listening to music, writing, reading, playing musical instruments, painting, sports, and so on. This can make you less likely to see food as emotional satisfaction. That way, your emotional eating habits over time will decrease.

Eating water or drinks without calories

In addition to the method above, you can consume drinks after feeling calm enough. Try to choose drinks without calories, such as water, green tea or herbal tea without sugar, ginger water, or other sugar-free spice drinks.

This will suppress uncontrolled appetite, provide a relaxed feeling in the body and accelerate the body's metabolism. In addition, this will make you hydrated enough after going through a period that makes emotions go up and down.



1. Dryden-Edwards, Roxanne. (2016). Emotional Eating Symptoms, Treatment, Causes – What is the difference between emotional eating and binge eating?

2. Mayo Clinic. (2015). Weight-loss: Gain control of emotional eating.

3. Ballas, P., and Nelson, G. A. (2016). Emotional Eating: How to Cope – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center.

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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