When our emotions push us to eat

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

The desire to eat without hunger, by compulsion, has a use, yes, it allows us to divert our attention from the sad, anxious or angry thoughts that cross us in order to no longer feel these worrying or painful emotions.

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

These food cravings can also be triggered by less intense emotions that require more attention to spot:

  • Tiredness at the end of the day;
  • Boredom, when you go around in circles at home;
  • The need to please yourself (need for reward, often anchored since childhood);
  • The need to do you good (need for comfort, to fill a void, a lack).

All these feelings are the signals that your body sends you, an alert, an alarm that you must identify in order to no longer suffer from these urges to eat but to regain control over your life, your choices and your body.

Emotional food cravings

Most of the time, when you feel emotions that you consider too intense, you try to cancel them out with food, these are emotional eating cravings.

Over time you become hypersensitive to your emotions, so eating compulsions increase. Then you are afraid of losing control, afraid of gaining weight or you feel guilty about what you have eaten, or are going to eat. And you find yourself falling into the vicious cycle of food control and eating disorders.

How to relieve emotional cravings:

  • Try to keep yourself busy, to think of something else in order to fill the void of the moment: film, reading, activity (creative or sporting),…
  • Seek to relax and unwind through various means (relaxation audios, podcasts, etc.)
  • Take the blame! Because eating is also a natural regulator of emotions! It is normal to eat to calm down, relax, do you good and regain your serenity. It is a behavior found in most mammals and which is often ingrained in our behavior since childhood.

Some foods have this comforting power and others much less. Foods with high energy density (fatty and sweet, especially) comfort the best…

I advise you to face every emotional urge to eat and not fight against it, mindfully enjoy your comfort food.

How ? In a seated position, comfortably installed, with your back straight, in a quiet place if possible.

eat with your emotions in mind

End of day excesses

How your day goes, both in terms of food and psychologically and emotionally, determines how your evening will go. The way your evening will turn out will determine your eating habits.

Several factors can contribute to you overeating at the end of the day.

Evening hunger: During the day you may tend to forget about your body and ignore your hunger. This neglected hunger during the day can become intense (great hunger) in the evening. It will require an urgent and strong food response. You will then eat high-calorie foods in a hurry, and in large quantities.

Cognitive restriction: if you pay attention to what you eat in order to lose weight, you forbid yourself from your favorite foods: with the fear of consuming them even in small quantities, this will generate a growing desire with greater and greater control efforts. . These prohibitions lead you to obsessive thoughts about food, your weight, your body, which lead to secondary emotions (fear of gaining weight or not losing weight, guilt, anger or depression).

It’s all these thoughts and emotions that we call “cognitive restriction.” They are the source of emotional eating desires and exaggerated food intake!

Emotional evening food cravings: the time to return home is also the time that risks confronting you with different thoughts and emotions put aside during the day: professional or private problems, money worries, ruminations about the past or worries about the future, anger, depression , anxiety, guilt, boredom, nervous and emotional exhaustion,… In all these cases, the desire to eat emotionally will reduce the intensity of the emotions felt…

Eating to seek courage and energy: For many the day is far from over when you return home in the evening. Parents have to take care of their children or you will have brought some urgent files to finish after dinner,…

You then eat without worrying about whether you are hungry, to give yourself strength. This is a special case of emotional eating.

The need for reward: through food, after a hard day or to celebrate a success, you may be led to congratulate yourself on the effort made by eating without necessarily being hungry. You will then look for the foods whose taste is most pleasant to us.

Take a square of chocolate

Learn to taste so as to no longer endure

High-calorie foods, whether fatty, salty or sweet, are not an obstacle to your weight loss. On the contrary, they can help you lose weight. But to do this, we must stop demonizing them and know how to consume them properly:

  • If you eat hungry, I invite you to pay attention to your feeling of fullness in order to eat the necessary quantity, slowly, while tasting, in a suitable posture (we agree that by eating standing up with the TV on you will be very difficult to listen to you);
  • If you eat to calm your emotions, pay attention to the arrival of comfort, the moment when it is there, it feels better, again in order to eat the necessary quantity and especially very slowly!

Do not deprive yourself of these taboo foods because it is deprivation and prohibitions that lead to compulsions and excesses. The more control and frustration you are in, the more intense the breakdown will be.

The ideal is therefore to taste these high-calorie foods to fully enjoy their taste and take real taste pleasure.

Learn how to enjoy these calorie-dense foods, so you can eat them without gaining weight! It’s that simple ! And it works…