What Is Emotional Eating? Our Nutritionist Shares Tips On How You Can Stop Doing This

Emotional eating: Emotional hunger comes suddenly or abruptly. It makes you crave only certain foods. You may binge on these foods and still not feel satisfied emotionally. The worst of all is that you feel guilt or shame about eating.

What Is Emotional Eating? Our Nutritionist Shares Tips On How You Can Stop Doing This

Surround yourself with appropriate foods to stop emotional eating

Highlights

  • Discover a way to deal with negative emotions
  • Avoid eating oily and junk food
  • Eat small and light comfort foods which are easy to digest

Emotional eating is referred to eating when you feel low and want to suppress or soothe negative feelings. Emotional eating can make one feel guilty, which in turn leads to a cycle of excess eating, weight gain and other associated issues. Work stress, health issues, relationship struggles and financial worries are common causes of emotional eating. These negative emotions can lead to a feeling of emptiness or an emotional void. During emotional eating, food is believed to be a way to fill that void and create a false feeling of fullness or temporary wholeness.

Both men and women can be affected by emotional eating, however it is found to be more common in women. Emotional eating can make it difficult for a person to understand the difference between physical and emotional hunger. Feeling emotionally low or taking stress increases levels of cortisol, which may lead to more cravings.

How to stop emotional eating?

Nutritionist Ishi Khosla, in an Instagram post, talks about emotional eating. She writes that people eat when they feel hungry. At times, they eat when they are angry and not necessarily hungry. People eat for social reasons, emotional reasons and sometimes for the simple pleasure of eating, she says.

"Eating out is also a form of entertainment. Health, nutrition and virtues of food are usually an afterthought. This holds true when we are preoccupied at work," she explains.

Also read: Mindful Eating Tips: How Practicing Portion Control And Using Smaller Plates Can Help

Emotional hunger comes suddenly or abruptly. It makes you crave only certain foods. You may binge on these foods and still not feel satisfied emotionally. The worst of all is that you feel guilt or shame about eating.

Talking about ways to stop emotional eating, Khosla says that knowing your triggers and dealing with them, and surrounding yourself with appropriate foods can help.

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Know your triggers and surround yourself with appropriate foods to curb emotional eating
Photo Credit: iStock

Whenever you feel the need to indulge in emotional eating, direct your body's energy to the brain rather than to your belly, she recommends. "Do not eat oily junk food. Eat small and light comfort foods which are easy to digest. Vegetable juice, salad, fruits, dry fruits, work well, to keep you alert and happy. If you have tea/coffee, ensure you have an additional cup of water for each cup," she says.

Also read: Healthy Eating Tips By Experts: Know How To Make Your Meals Perfectly Balanced

Other ways to stop emotional eating

1. Discover a way to deal with negative emotions. Write a journal, read a book or do deep breathing exercises. Experiment with a lot of activities as it takes time to shift your mind from reaching out to food to other forms of stress relief.

2. Do some exercise. Going for a walk or a jog or doing a quick yoga routine can help in particularly emotional moments.

3. Eat a healthy diet including fibre and protein-rich foods. They can fill you up quickly and keep you full for longer.

Emotional eating which cannot be controlled may be an eating disorder and seeking professional help is the best way to curb it successfully.

Also read: Nutritionist Reveals The Secret To Eating Healthy With Lesser Cravings

(Ishi Khosla is a practicing clinical nutritionist, columnist and author)

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.