Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Why Do I Eat My Feelings?

Apr 30, 2019 02:24PM

It was a long day of meetings and phone calls at work. You skipped breakfast and then did the mid-morning donut fix. On your way home, you picked up fast food because you missed lunch. I deserve this, you told yourself. You were thinking of maybe going to spin class, but now you feel sluggish and bloated.

Do you turn to food as a reward or as a remedy for stress? So do more than one-third (38%) of adults. According to Dr. Mayrene Hernandez, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare Florida, there are a number of reasons why calorie-dense foods are difficult to resist. Stress triggers higher cortisol levels in your bloodstream which happens to trigger and emotional reaction and increase hunger.

After overeating unhealthy foods, almost half (49%) of adults feel disappointed in themselves and 46% feel negatively toward their bodies. Unfortunately, parts of our brains are rewarded for eating high-fat or high-sugar foods, so it’s tough to kick the habit.

With real hunger, the body needs nutrients. You are not craving one particular food, so anything you like that is available will satisfy your hunger. When you finish eating, you won’t feel guilty. Emotional hunger is triggered by a feeling. You crave a specific type of food, which is often high in calories and sugar. Then, you might feel guilty or ashamed after eating.

So when your body feels hungry, ask yourself, “Would I eat a meal of salmon and broccoli right now?” If the answer is yes, then you are physically hungry. If the answer is no, then you are experiencing an emotional craving. Here are some ways to curb the habit of giving in to emotional hunger:


  • Keep a food diary.
  • Find ways to decrease stress (yoga, meditation, walking or reading).
  • Drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. You might just be thirsty.
  • Purge the pantry and buy single portion snacks with healthier options such as almond butter, lower calorie smoothie or avocado toast.


So next time, after a long day of work, listen to your body’s signals. Are you hungry or feeding emotions? By rewarding the body with nutritious foods and an endorphin-filled workout, your day can end on a better note.


For more information on healthy eating and living, visit

Natural Awakenings of Sarasota February 2020 Digital Edition