3 Dangers Of Emotional Eating

Jennifer Ezeokoli
Jennifer Ezeokoli
Jennifer is a food enthusiast, Writer/Content Creator. Driven by passion, as the Head of content for African Food Network, she strives to curate exciting, fun, informative and functional content.
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Emotional eating
image source: helpguide

Emotional eating is the “propensity to eat in response to pleasant and negative emotions” is defined as emotional eating (also known as stress eating). While the phrase frequently refers to eating to cope with negative emotions, it also include eating to express happy feelings, such as eating meals to commemorate an occasion or eating to improve an existing great mood. In these situations, emotions are still driving the eating but not in a negative way.

Emotional eating usually occurs when a person is attempting to satisfy his or her hedonic drive, or the desire to eat palatable food to obtain pleasure in the absence of an energy deficit, but it can also occur when a person is looking for food as a reward, eating for social reasons (such as at a party), or eating to conform (which involves eating because friends or family wants the individual to).

When someone is emotionally eating, they are more likely to seek out pleasant meals (such as sweets) than food in general. In certain cases, emotional eating can lead to “mindless eating,” which occurs when a person eats without being aware of what or how much they are eating; this can happen in both happy and negative situations.

Physical Hunger VS Emotional Hunger

  • Physical Hunger develops slowly over time, whereas in emotional hunger, It occurs unexpectedly or abruptly.
  • You have no bad sentiments about eating while you’re physically hungry. When you have emotional hunger, on the other hand, you feel guilty or ashamed about eating.
  • While physically hungry, you desire a variety of food group. But with emotional hunger, you crave only certain foods.
  • In a normal condition, you are aware of your fullness and use it as a signal to cease eating. However, you may gorge on food and not feel satisfied during emotional eating.


Positive Emotions in Emotional Eating

Dangers of emotional eating
Image from blackdoctor.org

Negative emotional eating is a topic that many of us are familiar with. You split up and get the ice cream out. You can’t find work, so you go out and have some tasty fried chicken. Food can be extremely soothing, and it’s not uncommon to resort to it when you’re feeling bad. But what about when you’re in a good mood?

Emotional eaters are often presumed to eat in response to negative emotions, while positive emotions have been largely neglected.

Watching a movie that make you happy triggers emotional hunger, happiness can be just as much of a trigger for addiction as things that are unpleasant. You might not even realize there’s a problem when it comes to food, which is connected with celebration. It’s something we’re encouraged to do. When you’re depressed, however, you’re more aware of the fact that you’re eating again.

When we’re happy, we want to keep it that way. We can’t retain that feeling of bliss on a neurochemical level. You can be in a good mood one minute and then be cranky two hours later. When you reach a high degree of happiness, you may feel compelled, even unconsciously, to attempt to maintain it. You eat something, feel a little better, and continue on your way.


Negative Emotional Eating


  • Truth is everyone eats for emotional reasons some of the time. You have an argument with your partner, and you storm into the kitchen to fix something to eat. Your boss reams you out for something, and you take yourself to a lavish lunch, thinking you deserve it after all. You’re waiting for your habitually late friend to join you for dinner at a restaurant, and the minutes drag by like hours, and by the time he arrives, you’ve eaten and even downed two beers.

Anger, humiliation, boredom —at the time, each seemed like a good reason for eating, as if food could fix the feeling. For some of us however, the psychology factor influences the totality of our relationships with food and the entire pattern or habit of our eating. That’s why, psychology often plays an important role in the weight loss program.

Patients at a weight loss program are called intakes by health professionals. The primary intake is medical, looking at the problem of overweight as a total health issue. The second intake is by a staff nutritionist, who analyzes the patient’s eating habits and relationship with food. The third intake is offered by a psychotherapist who can help a patient identify the psychological factors that may have contributed to the weight problem, understand the influences on the person’s eating decisions, and manage the responsibility for making better decisions in the future.

No book can do that for you. A single chapter can’t even identify, much less diagnose, the particular issues that are the psychological factors in your eating habits. But what is certain for everybody is that psychology is a factor. Knowing how it might be influencing your eating choices is an important component. To make mindful choices about food, it helps to look not just outward at the food options you have, but also inward at the influences that may be impelling you toward one option or another.

It is extremely helpful to be aware of the psychological factors that may be influencing your eating habits. Once you’re able to examine and identify the possible root causes for eating or overeating and deal with them, it will result in having control over emotional eating. Food will only fix and ease hunger pangs while giving your body nutrients. It does nothing significant for your mood.



Side Effects of Emotional Eating

Three major side effects usually accompany emotional eating.



The emotional overeater is frequently plagued with shame and guilt for what they’ve done once the emotional “threat” has gone and they’ve eaten.

Studies have shown that people with emotional eating disorder feel guilty not only about their eating habits, but also many other parts of their self. The more they criticize themselves,  the more severe their emotional eating disorder becomes.


Because the sensation of food in the stomach serves as a diversion from the feelings they’re trying to avoid, emotional eaters sometimes overeat or eat quickly, resulting in stomach pain or nausea. This can linger for a day or two after the meal has been had.


Increase in Body Weight

How many calories you ingest vs how many you burn determines your daily calorie balance.

A calorie surplus occurs when you consume more calories than you expend. These extra calories may be stored as fat in your body.

Overeating can contribute to the development of excess body fat or obesity since you may be eating far more calories than you require

Furthermore, you could develop weight-related health prolems with overeating that accompanies emotional eating. Diabetes, high blood pressure, fatigue, and high cholesterol are all health problems that can result from repetitive emotional eating outbursts.


How To Tackle Emotional Eating

Find other ways to deal with stress

The first step toward overcoming emotional eating is frequently to find a new strategy to deal with negative feelings. This might be as simple as writing in a notebook, reading a book, or simply taking a few minutes to rest and unwind after a long day.

It takes time to alter your attitude from reaching for food to seeking other sources of stress release, so try out a few different hobbies to see what works best for you.


Refrain from grabbing a large volume of food 

Refrain from grabbing an entire bag of chips or other snack items. To aid with portion control, measuring quantities and using small plates are two mindful eating habits to concentrate on.

Allow yourself some time after you’ve completed one helping before returning for a second. In the meanwhile, you might want to try another stress-relieving approach, such as deep breathing.

Fight temptation by distracting yourself

Distract yourself from snacking when you’re not hungry and replace it with a better habit. Take a walk, watch a movie, play with your cat, listen to music, read, or phone a friend.

Remove the source of temptation. Keep comfort foods that are difficult to resist out of your house. Also, if you’re furious or depressed, postpone your food shopping excursion until you’ve calmed down.


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Jennifer Ezeokoli
Jennifer Ezeokoli
Jennifer is a food enthusiast, Writer/Content Creator. Driven by passion, as the Head of content for African Food Network, she strives to curate exciting, fun, informative and functional content.

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