Emotional Eating and Weight Loss

Updated at: Aug 16, 2012
Emotional Eating and Weight Loss

Emotional eating and weight loss: Emotional eating can create problems in your goals of weight loss. This is because of the fact that emotional eating is not determined by hunger but the need to feel about yourself.

Vatsal Anand
Weight ManagementWritten by: Vatsal AnandPublished at: Aug 16, 2012

If you are looking to manage your weight, emotional eating can be the most deceptive roadblock in your efforts. Eating as a response to emotions needs to be controlled to keep your weight within normal healthy range. Emotional eating and weight loss issues need to be managed by first identifying the triggers of eating for comfort. This would help to replace eating with healthier alternatives for managing emotional problems.

Triggers of emotional eating

Situations that can lead to emotional eating can be of five major categories:

  • Sentimental – Comforting oneself with food in order to manage boredom, fatigue, tension, stress, anxiety, anger, depression or loneliness.
  • Social – Eating when with friends and family is often irresistible for many people. It is often because they encourage you to have food. Having food to be a part of your social group can be difficult to control.
  • Situational – There are some circumstances that lead to eating without hunger. Habit of eating in a restaurant, temptations of food advertisements, smell coming from a bakery and the like can make you eat. Eating is also associated with some activities such as watching sport or movies.
  • Negative self-worth – Many people tend to make excuses for eating. They would reprimand themselves of not having will power or say that they would not look good anyway and continue to eat without hunger.
  • Physiological – Some physical conditions lead you to eat more than you should. One such situation is increased hunger after skipping a meal or two. At times even headaches or any other pain make you eat more.

If you identify your cravings for food not backed by hunger as one of these, it is recommended that you make a diary of the triggers of eating. Moreover, identify and record the triggers including thoughts, emotions and stressors that bring about your cravings for food. You need to work on recognising these triggers and their pattern of emotional response as soon as possible.

Once you identify the emotions responsible for unhealthy eating, you need to exercise restraint. For example, if you are frustrated with the way your spouse is behaving, manage it with an open communication rather than resorting to eating a cake to feel good about yourself. Doing this admittedly helps to take the focus away from your unwholesome emotions but it can upset your normal weight.

Avoid the company of those who are very insistent on you to have food on social occasions. Tell them about your plans to lose weight and that you are determined to stick to it. One of difficulties in managing weight gain through excessive eating caused by emotions is the peer pressure that you need to live with.




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