Many people sometimes suffer from emotional eating. Just think about the time your relationship just ended and you comforted yourself with ice cream. If you experience emotional eating sporadically, for example, while taking a cheat day, it shouldn't necessarily be a problem.
Emotional eating does become a problem if it occurs (too) often. It also becomes problematic when it bothers you. In this article, I describe what emotional eating is exactly and what you can do about it.

What Is Emotional Eating?

When you are emotional eating, you are eating to regulate certain emotions. Normally, people lose their appetite when they feel negative emotions. People who eat emotion, however, get a good feeling from the food or they use it as a distraction.

Causes Of Emotional Eating

Emotional Eating1There are various causes of binge eating. For example, you can eat a lot because of fear, a hopeless feeling, or simply boredom.

Another cause could be that you feel like you have no control over your life.
Often it is a habit that has developed gradually in life. Eating behavior is largely formed during childhood. A certain upbringing can increase the chance of developing emotional eating. If parents reward or comfort their child with food, this can ensure that the child continues to do this as an adult.
An example of this is that a parent comforts the child with candy if the child has fallen. Another example is rewarding a child with dessert when the child eats dinner. Comforting or rewarding a child with unhealthy food also increases the risk of being overweight.
It is better to comfort the child in some other way. It is also wise to give a child dessert if they do not eat dinner. For example, food is not associated with a reward.
Some of the emotional eaters are not able to distinguish between real hunger pangs and the unpleasant feeling in the stomach and intestines caused by negative emotions.

How Do You Recognize Emotional Eating?

You can recognize a binge by, among other things, the following factors.

  • You crave a specific food.
  • You ate not too long ago.
  • Your ‘hunger feeling' comes unexpectedly.
  • You can't keep a mate.
  • Afterward, you suffer from (even more) negative feelings, such as feelings of guilt.

You can use the Dutch questionnaire for Eating Behavior to test whether you suffer from emotional eating. In addition, several other tips can help you. Read on to learn about some solutions that might work for you.

Solutions About Emotional Eating

Emotional Eating2Which solution works against emotional eating differs per person. In other words, it's a matter of trying out which potential solution works best for you.

Are you curious what steps you can take against emotional eating? Several options are explained below to better deal with emotional eating.

To Gain Understanding

The first step is to gain insight into why you suffer from emotional eating. You can gain insight into this by writing down your thoughts and feelings before, during, and after a binge. You also keep track of when you get a binge.


Then you can make an ‘if-then plan'. You think in advance about what you will do when you get a binge. Replace binge eating with other activities. For example, this could be reading a book, going for a walk, or talking to someone about your feelings. Writing can also be a good way to process your feelings.

Replace Unhealthy Food With Healthy Food

Replacing unhealthy food with healthy food is a good step for dealing with binge eating. At the same time, this is a lot better for your health. Also, keep track of which foods you find difficult to keep in moderation. Do not keep these foods in the house in the beginning.
If you feel less emotional eating and have more control, you can try these foods one by one. It can also help to make one serving and keep the rest of the package out of sight.

Structured Diet

It is also important to have a structured diet if your binge eating is initially triggered by fatigue or hunger pangs. If you don't get enough energy, you can overeat.

Unprocessed Emotions

If you have a lot of unprocessed emotions, then it is necessary to get help from a psychologist or specialized dietician. As a result, the chance of emotional eating may decrease. After all, you are better able to control your emotions and thoughts thanks to the help of a medical specialist.

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