Emotional Eating. Fight the urge.

Eating a tub of ice cream because of stress? We’ve been there. Learn how to stop this unhealthy eating habit!

“Eating your problems.” In this simple and graphic way I have heard nutritionists and psychologists describe the impulsive urge to eat, which so many of their patients felt in an attempt to achieve well-being.

But, unlike popular belief, overweight people are not the only ones who eat “more”, nor eat exclusively because of hunger.

How many times have we seen in the movies that scene in which the protagonist is immersed in a tub of ice cream to drown a miserable love? There’s no need to go to Hollywood to see that scene again: the college girl who eats a whole baguette while studying for an exam, the colleague at work who steals her son’s treats after having a fight with the boss, the neighbor who confesses to drown his sorrows in a bottle of Nutella …

It sounds funny, but we all probably know someone (or we are) who eats because of sadness, nerves, anxiety, etc. Have you been there? Surely then, you will be interested in these questions:

What causes emotional eating?

Emotional eating is an attempt to calm anxiety. Basically, food is used to cope or alleviate some situation, according to the fitness site Green Mountain.

But, even if we feel uncontrollable cravings, it is possible to deal with this way of eating and, the sooner we do, the better.


How can you achieve it?

To combat the urge to eat:

  • Take a break. Ask yourself: “Am I hungry?” Sometimes, we focus so much on what we want to eat, that we do not stop to reflect on why we want to do it, warns WebMD. 
  • Change the environment. Sometimes, we drive on autopilot. Therefore, changing the environment could turn your attention towards your behavior, giving you an opportunity to make more useful decisions.
  • Accept the craving in moderation! Prohibiting certain foods could lead to overeating. If you really want something (yes, even if you are not hungry), give yourself permission to enjoy a small portion.
  • Relax. A hot bath, a massage, listening to soft music, lighting aromatic candles, playing with a pet and meditating, are all activities that could help you calm anxiety, which leads you to resort to food, lists Green Mountain.
  • Consult a therapist. If you really can not control the urge to eat, consider talking to a mental health professional about the reasons why you are trying to cope with food.

What about you? What strategies do you use to avoid emotional eating?


Translation from the original in Spanish: Vanessa Sirias

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