Emotional eating: why we eat too much – and what we can do about it

Man eating fries

There are many reasons people overeat that lead to an unwanted feeling of fullness: Sometimes simply having large plates causes portion sizes to grow. Sweeteners in food or snacks in sight can also trigger ravenous appetite. But there are also other reasons why people eat too much and then an unwanted feeling of fullness sets in. Therapist Maria Sanchez calls it emotional eating, or emotional hunger. (Read here: Portion sizes: Never overeat again with these 5 tips)

What is emotional eating??

Those who are affected by this do not eat out of hunger, but for emotional reasons, for example because they feel lonely, sad or stressed out. "In fact, this happens relatively often", says Sanchez. Don’t worry: If you reach into your candy drawer on a stressful day at work, but that doesn’t mean you have a problem yet.

Many people lose control when they are ravenously hungry

However, it becomes difficult when people feel that they lose control of their eating behavior when they are ravenously hungry. "Many then wonder why they are actually doing something that is not good for them. But at the same time, they can’t stop", Sanchez explains. Increased eating does not even have to lead to obesity. "I know a lot of so-called fat skinny people.", says the expert. They cut down on the excess calories, for example, by following a rigid exercise program or calculating what else they may eat during the day. "Control mechanisms always run in the head. It costs a lot of vitality." (Here you can find tips against a bloated belly)

Often, the much-quoted "pig dog" has to come to the rescue. "Sufferers often believe that they have to get their pig under control in order to "eat less", Says the expert. She advises against this approach. "If you think like this, you enter into a battle with yourself." That doesn’t help you feel better in the long run – and often, ravenous hunger wins out in the end. (Also interesting: Craving attacks: Researchers solve mystery of why some people have them)

How to prevent emotional eating?

One of the best tips against emotional eating is to learn to distinguish emotional hunger from "real" hunger To distinguish hunger. A tip is to wait with eating until you are sure that you are really hungry. "In this way, you get to know your body better again", says Sanchez. (Also read: With these 5 rules you will never eat too much again)

How does hunger feel? Every person feels different symptoms when they are hungry. "Typical, however, is of course the feeling of a slight vacuum in the stomach", says the expert. Some people also feel a little shaky. Emotional hunger, on the other hand, usually manifests itself more in the mouth or as a kind of hole in the throat. The feeling after eating can also show what kind of hunger it was: physical hunger is eventually satiated and you feel satisfied. With emotional hunger, on the other hand, such as frustration eating, those affected often have the feeling that they could go on eating forever without really feeling satisfied, or an unpleasant feeling of fullness sets in. In addition, you often don’t feel very good emotionally after such a binge. Cravings are also often accompanied by a strong desire for particularly sweet, salty or fatty foods – typical, for example, are chips, fast food or chocolate. (Also interesting: 5 snacks that are better than their reputation)

Stop emotional eating? How to find a way to deal with emotional hunger

Once you have learned to distinguish between the two types of hunger, the next step is to deal with emotional hunger differently than before. "It is a good idea to pause for a moment when this "hunger" arises, says the expert. It often makes a difference to spend two or three minutes wondering how you are feeling before you eat.

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