Take Charge: Emotions and Eating

Emotions can influence what, when and how much we eat. For example, you have probably heard that some people eat to cope with stress. Others eat to preoccupy themselves when they feel bored. 

When you eat based on your emotions, it can hinder your weight loss efforts. Often, situations that trigger certain negative emotions prompt eating. Review the words below, think about each of the emotions, note any emotions that trigger your desire for food and add any other emotions or situations that trigger you to eat.

Afraid | Alone | Angry | Anxious | Bad | Blue | Bored | Content | Depressed | Disappointed | Fearful | Frustrated | Good | Grief | Guilty | Happy | Hate | Hungry | Insecure | Jealous | Lonely | Lust | Nervous | Peer Pressure | Regret | Sad | Scared | Self-pity | Shame | Sleepy | Stress | Time to eat | Tired | Unsure | Worried

If you have recently eaten and find yourself craving food again, do a quick emotional check. Do you want food because you are hungry—or to fill an emotional need? Here are some tips to keep your eating in check: 

  • Remember which emotions and situations trigger you to eat. 
  • Write a list of other things to do to fulfill that emotional need, for example, call a friend, take a walk, drink some water or another zero-calorie beverage, send an email to a pal or do a few yoga stretches. 
  • Assess your physical hunger using the Hunger-Satiety Rating Scale
  • Track the food you eat, how hungry you are when you eat and how you feel at the time. You may get a better idea of which emotions trigger eating when you are not physically hungry. If you are having a hard time, reach out for help. Involve family members and friends to help support your weight loss efforts. Support groups, therapy and members of your health care team can also help.