Emotional Hunger vs Physical Hunger: What are you really feeding?

Do you eat more when you are feeling stressed?

Do you eat to feel better (to calm yourself when you’re upset, angry, bored, anxious, uncomfortable?)

Does food make you feel safe and nurtured?

Do you feel out of control with food?

Do you consistently eat when you’re not hungry or continue eating even when you are full?

These questions may be challenging to answer, but doing so may change what and why you put something into your stomach during your next meal.

Emotional eating is when we look to food for comfort, stress relief, or a reward rather than actually satisfying the physical hunger.  Experiencing emotional eating can feel powerless to the individual and when the urge hits, often it’s all you can think about. 

Understanding Emotional Hunger vs Physical Hunger

Emotional hunger hits you instantly and feels urgent. 

Physical Hunger is gradual and the desire to eat does not feel like demand of instant satisfaction.

Emotional hunger does not leave you feeling satisfied, even if you’re full. That’s because most likely, the eating is to fill a void. 

Physical hunger recognizes when you are full and makes it easier to put that fork down.

Emotional eating is often followed by regret, guilt, or shame. This is often because you know deep down that you are not eating for nutrition or sustainability. 

Physical hunger is giving your body what it needs for energy and strength. 

How Do I Stop the Emotional Eating?

Identify your triggers. 
Most emotional eating comes from unpleasant feelings.  If there are certain places, people, or situations that trigger certain emotions that send you running after the brownies, then either avoid it or prepare for it. 

Learn yourself. dentify things besides food that provides comfort. 
That can be anything from calling a friend when you feel lonely to meditating when you feel anxious.  A short, brisk walk outside will do wonders for your mood. Plan fun activities with people you enjoy being around. When you play and experience joy, you start to heal. 

Take a moment before you give into a craving. 
Emotional eating tends to be automatic and sometimes mindless. Before you even realize it, you’ve had the entire jar of cookies. If you take a moment to pause and ask why you’re craving certain foods, you may change your mind. 

Lastly, practice self-love in all areas of your life. When you choose foods and habits that reflect love, compassion, and forgiveness towards yourself, you will innately choose better.  Remember, you deserve the best. You have the power with every little choice, starting with your plate.  

Written By:  Jalpa Dhaduk
Certified Nutrition & Wellness Coach