Emotional Eating. How Not to Overeat Your Emotions?

Emotions sometimes take over and throw us off balance. Looking for a way to give vent to them, we want to alleviate the unpleasant discomfort by reaching for food. Unfortunately, the relief does not last long and the irritation is replaced by remorse. Why do we actually overeat our emotions and how to deal with unhealthy habits?

Emotional hunger and physiological hunger

You are probably wondering why, for many people, the first, unconditional reaction under severe stress is to overeat their emotions? This is predicated on seeking an easily accessible treat to reduce tension levels and bring temporary relaxation. Emotional overeating is a consequence of an emerging emotional hunger coming from the head that is sudden and needs to be compensated as soon as possible. It is so intensified that it knows no restraint and leads to the consumption of an uncontrollable amount of food, resulting in overeating.

Emotional hunger is generally dictated by specific cravings. According to a study conducted in the USA, ice-cream and cookies “eliminate” sadness, meat “eliminates” nervousness, and crisps “help” with boredom.

According to Anna Brytek-Matera, psychologist, therapist, and professor at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (SWPS), “emotions influence food choices and preferences, determine the amount of food consumed and the type of taste the human body prefers in a given moment, and are an important element in forming unhealthy eating habits.”*

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[Translate to English:]

Głód emocjonalny z reguły jest podyktowany konkretnymi zachciankami. Jak pokazują badania przeprowadzone w USA smutek „niwelują” lody i ciastka, zdenerwowanie – mięso, natomiast na znudzenie „pomagają” chipsy.

Zdaniem prof. Uniwersytetu SWPS, psycholożki i terapeutki Anny Brytek-Matery, „emocje wpływają na wybory i preferencje żywieniowe, warunkują ilość spożywanego pokarmu, determinują rodzaj smaku, jaki w danej chwili preferuje organizm człowieka, oraz stanowią istotny element kształtowania się nieprawidłowych zachowań żywieniowych”*.