Understand what emotional hunger is

Emotional hunger is a worrying sign that your feelings are on edge. Know this problem and learn how to treat it.The emotional hunger , as its name indicates, is a worrying sign that his feelings go to the surface. In this text, learn a little more about this problem and how to treat it.Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is one of the prerequisites to avoid a series of health problems. Sometimes, however, an inadequate meal can be a symptom that things are not going well in the emotional field.

What is emotional hunger?

Emotional hunger can be understood as the habit of eating to ‘discount’ anxiety, sadness, stress and even euphoria – in general, caloric foods (with a lot of sugar, salt and carbohydrates).

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In this way, medicine explains, the brain is ‘trained’ to associate food as a relief for problems.

“Whoever eats for emotions, when they are stressed, anxious or with any other negative emotion, ends up having more uncontrolled food”, explains Dr. Lara.

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Such behavior causes the person to gain and lose weight frequently, entering the so-called ‘accordion effect.’


The nutritionist cites psychological consequences of emotional hunger:

“This individual eats even though he is satiated and has bad feelings for having eaten without being necessary. He is frustrated, with that feeling of failure, of those who did something wrong.”

Emotional hunger vs. physiological hunger

Before explaining the consequences of emotional hunger, it is necessary to understand the physiological diet, which is considered common.

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According to the nutritionist, “physiological hunger is gradually appearing, it is gradual, usually a more balanced meal is usually sought to satisfy itself, it has a good feeling of pleasure after eating. It is not forgotten when doing another activity.”

In establishing these ‘parameters’, Dr. Lara highlights how emotional hunger develops:

“Emotional nutrition is one that appears suddenly, when we are looking for some specific type of food, that seems comforting, urgent, that you can’t wait to eat.”

Is emotional hunger an eating disorder?

The answer – short and simple – to that question is: no.

Discounting emotions in food does not necessarily mean that the person has binge eating, as provided for in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

It is worth noting, however, that emotional hunger may indeed be a symptom or trigger for compulsive behavior.

Here’s the difference: binge eating is periodic, with genetic factors involved and specific symptoms. The person eats everything that is ahead and does not feel satiated.

It is usually related to other psychiatric disorders, such as bipolarity, anxiety and depression.

Bulimia and anorexia are examples of binge eating.

Emotional hunger is linked to a desired food. And, when this desire is satisfied, the person no longer has the desire to eat.

How to identify emotional hunger

The main symptoms of emotional hunger are:

⇒ Eating to relieve bad feelings, celebrate or as a form of reward;
⇒ Willingness to eat specific foods;
⇒ Sudden hunger in the face of a tense situation;
⇒ Guilt after eating.

How to get rid of emotional hunger

We have separated some precious tips for you to ‘circumvent’ this problem and maintain good mental, emotional and physical health.

“When we identify emotional nutrition, we can develop a list of activities to check when we feel it,” said Dr. Lara Natacci.

Write down and, most importantly, put into practice:

  1. Seek professional help

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Emotional hunger is linked to psychological factors and the person’s emotional state. Therefore, in this case, it is important to resort to professional monitoring.

A psychologist will help you to understand and deal with your emotions and demands (personal and professional), expectations and frustrations.

In more severe cases, a psychiatrist can collaborate to treat emotional hunger by prescribing some medications.

  1. Promote food re-education


People with this problem tend to have a very unbalanced diet – often calling for fast foods or processed foods.

We have already dealt with the damage that fast foods and processed foods have to health .

Thus, a dietary re-education is recommended. Include in your menu healthier and more nutritious foods, which guarantee a greater feeling of satiety and do not leave you hungry anytime soon.

Don’t fill your pantry and refrigerator with greasy and unhealthy foods, okay?

If you don’t know how to take the first step, we have 7 super tips to start your dietary reeducation .

  1. Do physical exercises

This is a very common tip in lists of habits for healthy living. With regard to emotional hunger, physical exercise appears as a good source of pleasure.

When encountering activities that also bring happiness and satisfaction, the person has a healthy time and stays away from the refrigerator and any ‘temptation’ to eat.

“When the person is distracted, the emotional hunger disappears”, emphasizes the clinical nutritionist.

We have 5 creative ways to get rid of a sedentary lifestyle .

  1. Eat more consciously

People who resort to food when they are stressed, anxious or euphoric are more likely to have an uncontrolled diet.

And the choices, like Dr. Lara said, they are usually pretty bad: high-calorie foods.

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Imagine the damage: foods with high blood glucose levels release a lot of insulin, which gives temporary satiety.

After a while, the hunger returns. Do you understand why it is essential to hold the momentum and stop the emotional feeding?

  1. Try to relax


In stressful situations, there is an increase in the production of cortisol. This hormone also grows when we sleep little.

“Some studies relate the lack of sleep with a tendency to lose control of food, especially with regard to carbohydrates”, explains the nutritionist.

To avoid ‘mugging’ to the refrigerator, and not finding comfort in the food, it is recommended to relax. 😉

“This decreases the influence of emotions a bit when choosing food and eating.”

If you have signs that you are very stressed , remember this tip.


Emotional hunger occurs when a person takes his frustrations or expectations out of his food.

Unlike binge eating, it is not related to psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

Although it cannot be classified as a disorder, it deserves all the attention, as it is able to ‘train’ the brain to associate food as a relief for problems.

Some precautions can be taken so that this behavior is stopped and the person has a healthy life.


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