Emotional Eating: Recognize the Triggers and Break the Cycle

Emotional Eating: Recognize the Triggers and Break the Cycle

Many people find their escape from emotional distress, anxiety, and stress in food. Emotional eating refers to overeating as a result of negative emotions. Emotional eating can result in eating disorders and is often associated with a sense of guilt and shame following the eating phase. It can result in serious consequences including obesity, diabetes, and overall health deterioration.

What is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is a condition during which a person finds relief from negative and stressful emotions through food. It can affect people of all ages including children, adults, and the elderly. Different people have different triggers like stress, depression, and anxiety. Emotional eating comes with a sudden and uncontrollable urge for a specific food, usually sugary foods. Unlike physical hunger, emotional hunger can not be satisfied even after eating till fullness. Emotional eating is often followed by a sense of guilt and shame for all the unhealthy foods that you have consumed.

Continuous mindless eating during EE can result in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and hormonal imbalance.

Seeking professional help from a psychiatrist can help manage emotional eating through cognitive behavioral therapy or medication.

Relation between Mental health and Emotional Eating


Emotional eating and mental health have a strong connection. Eating releases a hormone called dopamine which boosts energy and makes you feel good. People suffering from mental diseases like depression and anxiety are more prone to an emotional eating disorder as consumption of carbohydrates is also linked to the increased serotonin levels in the blood. Emotional eating is often followed by guilt and shame which exacerbate another mental disease, Bulimia nervosa. Emotional eating often comprises excess sweet and high-carbs food. Such foods are often linked to increasing the risk of developing depression or anxiety


Adopting a healthier diet and engaging yourself in regular exercise can improve both physical and mental health and related symptoms.

How to identify an Emotional eating disorder?


The symptoms indicating an emotional eating disorder include the following. Look for them in yourself to help its management at an early stage;

  • Over-eating in response to emotions such as when stressed, depressed, sad, or emotionally disturbed
  • Eating without feeling hungry and eating until you feel like vomiting it all out
  • Feelin guilty immediately after eating
  • Feeling ashamed of overeating or eating in secrecy

These symptoms are an indication of extreme emotional disturbances and eating disorders. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, try to control yourself during triggers.


What causes Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is associated with stressful life events. Many people find food as a source of distraction from their negative emotions. They believe that indulging themselves in eating can distract them from their life complications such as relationship issues, work-related stress, or health issues.


The relationship between anxiety and emotional eating is very interesting. Stress and anxiety cases emotional eating. When a person consumes excess salty foods, it raises blood pressure. Increased blood pressure increases the workload of the heart and triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline causes anxiety. People with emotional eating disorders thus eat to escape their anxiety.

Tips to cope with Emotional Eating

People with emotional eating disorders can manage their emotional or binge eating by following some useful tips. They include;

  • Tame your stress: The primary strategy to manage emotional eating is by taming your stress and anxiety. Indulge yourself in healthy activities like regular exercise, meditation, and morning walk to manage your stress. There are a number of stress-releasing
  • Identify your triggers: Self-evaluation is the best strategy to manage emotional eating. Keep track of your triggers and the foods you ate during those triggers. This will help in identifying your weaknesses and triggers that lead you to eat due to negative emotions. Try to break the pattern by reminding yourself of the food that you have already consumed and set a daily goal to manage your triggers.
  • Eating healthy foods: The best way to avoid health complications associated with emotional eating is by replacing unhealthy and sugary foods with a healthy vegetable and fruit diet. Include healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, and roasted grams to your list. This will help you in maintaining weight and satisfying your emotional eating
  • Get support from your family: Discuss your emotional eating triggers with your family and friends. Talk to them when you face anxiety, depression, or any negative emotion. This will help you release your stress and you’ll no longer look at the food as an escape.
  • Get Professional Help: A counselor can help you deal with emotional eating through various therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy. A mental health professional can also treat depression, anxiety, stress, or any other cause that results in emotional eating. Consult with a psychiatrist to avoid complications associated with emotional eating as it can lead to more complicated mental issues.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle: Regulate your eating and sleep patterns to maintain your physical and emotional health. This can help you manage stress and anxiety. Regular physical and mental exercises can also help in maintaining weight and reducing your emotional eating cycles.
  • Find Alternatives: Alternative coping strategies during stressful times can help reduce emotional and binge eating. Talking to a friend or a counselor, going for a walk, and getting involved in some healthy hobbies can help you replace your mindless eating at times of emotional triggers.



Emotional eating is linked to mental health issues. Eating spicy and sugary foods plays a role in stimulating dopamine and serotonin hormones. It can lead to the development of mental and physical health issues. If you are worried about your emotional eating habits, replace your unhealthy food options with healthy snacks and identify your emotional triggers. You can also seek support from your friends and family or talk to a doctor to help you manage your emotional eating triggers.



1.   How is emotional eating harmful?

Emotional eating can lead to excessive consumption of nutrients and calories beyond your body’s actual needs. This can result in obesity, diabetes, and many other chronic diseases.

2.   How do you know that you are an emotional eater?

If you feel a sudden and intense urge to eat food during any stressful situation, there are chances that you are an emotional eater. Track your patterns of eating or overeating and evaluate yourself.

3.   How can you stop emotionally binge eating?

There are a number of ways to stop and manage emotional binge eating. Keep an emotional tracker to help you identify your triggers. Find healthy alternatives to distract you from emotional stress like exercise. If you are unable to cope with your emotional eating, seek professional help, immediately.






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