Home Nutrition Advice What is Emotional Hunger? How Do We Prevent Overeating?

What is Emotional Hunger? How Do We Prevent Overeating?

Let’s clear our minds a bit! Especially when we feel sad, angry, and lonely, let’s think about which foods our hands can quickly go to. At such moments, we usually want to consume sugary, salty, and fatty foods, especially chocolate.

Okay, but why?

We cannot cope with stress, anxiety, emptiness, loneliness, and anger, and we use food to suppress these feelings. The scientific world calls it ’emotional hunger’.

The relationship between eating behavior and emotions is a complex system. Children who see sweet foods as a reward; learn to use foods to soothe their feelings by eating them in painful or stressful moments. These behaviors learned in the social environment, family, and school affects the individual’s life.

Individuals who have difficulty coping with negative emotions consume excessive and unnecessary food.

The balance between food intake and energy expenditure provides control of our body weight. Neurotransmitters and hormones in the brain affect food intake. However, emotional changes; Conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress also significantly affect food intake.

Emotional hunger is a situation that arises only because of the emotions of the individual, not when it is time to eat or the feeling of being scratched. It starts suddenly and does not show the symptoms of physical hunger.

The person tends to consume every food he finds and mostly manages foods with high energy value. However, physical hunger is not like that. In real need, scraping in the stomach, low blood sugar, and a feeling of fullness after a certain amount of food are seen. In emotional hunger, there is a desire to consume especially sugary, salty, and fatty foods that help the secretion of the serotonin hormone, known as the happiness hormone, which mixes quickly with the blood. The person continues to eat despite eating enough food and being whole.

Emotional eating behavior starts with situations that vary from person to person. While “restrictive eating” behavior is observed in some individuals, for example, people who have a rigorous diet consume too much of the foods that they restrict themselves in a short time and feel endless regret again, while others eat when they see a delicious and smelling food (This is also called “external eating”). . Then we can make a new arrangement in the food and dessert places we follow on social media. 🙂

So how can we find a solution to emotional hunger?

Feeding with awareness

The concept of mindfulness, which has been used frequently in recent years, is the individual’s realization of his feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations at the moment and being in contact with himself by accepting them without judgment. Nutrition with awareness, which is one of the fields formed based on conscious awareness;

  • Touching food with the five senses,
  • Eating slowly, focusing only on food
  • Noticing the taste of food
  • feeling the hunger signals,
  • It consists of exercises such as thinking about the story of the food until it reaches the plate.

In a compilation study, It was concluded that mindfulness meditation effectively reduces binge eating and emotional eating.


Physical movement integrates the body and brain connection. It shows that the changes made in the physical state also create a difference in the emotional state. It has been found that the physiological effect of exercise is beneficial in preventing emotional feeding, thus helping with extra weight control.