Keys to overcoming emotional hunger

Keys to overcoming emotional hunger

How to overcome emotional hunger.

How to overcome emotional hunger

Do you want to overcome emotional hunger? In the previous article we saw what emotional hunger was, the need to eat without hunger at all times to fill an emotional void. In this second part we are going to analyze the main psychological keys to overcome this problem.

Be aware of the problem and take responsibility for it.

Observe yourself with curiosity and without judgment, realize that emotional hunger is not due to external problems, but is a manifestation of internal imbalances. Be aware that the emptiness you are trying to fill is not in your stomach and that this “reward” is not going to help you feel better. Remember that the modification of eating habits and lifestyle is a conscious choice, which must be exercised from responsibility and freedom, not from obsessive imposition or senseless deprivation.

Learn to identify body signals.

Observe yourself and learn to be in the present, that is, to experience what you are feeling in your own body. Physical hunger can trigger the sound complaint of the stomach, coming to experience a slight dizziness, disorientation or fatigue in case of not being attended to. On the other hand, emotional hunger arises after cognition, having experienced certain feelings that generate discomfort and that are intended to silence with food.

Identify and attend to one’s own emotions.

Being aware of the emotions you are feeling is the first step in finding a way to deal with them properly. To do this, it is recommended to write down the reasons why you think you are feeling emotional hunger and why you think you are turning to food to resolve that conflict. This will make you aware of your actions, making you take responsibility for the situation and it becomes more controllable by being able to think about how to remedy it.

Learn to cook.

This recommendation not only saves money, but also increases the quality of the food, as hygiene conditions will probably improve, the origin and quantity of the food used will be taken care of, etc. In addition, investing time and energy in preparing food will make food more valued and will increase self-esteem by looking more autonomous and healthy.

Control diet.

Staying hydrated and eating five meals a day calculating the right servings can help you identify when and what emotions you mistake for hunger. Knowing that you have a healthy and satisfying diet helps to resist hunger attacks, since it is recognized that what you are feeling is emotional hunger and avoids the improvisation that usually triggers a poor diet.

Stay hydrated

Drinking water before eating has been shown to reduce food cravings. In addition, water is good for purifying the body and controlling appetite, which is why it helps to lose weight. It is recommended to drink more than two liters of water a day, being able to drink water with natural gas (not added), in case you get bored taking the normal one.

Avoid sugary and processed foods.

Avoid sugary and processed foods.

Buy healthy products in moderation and previously considered, without being carried away by impulsivity, avoiding processed foods, since emotional hunger is closely related to the abuse of these foods. Avoid drinking diet drinks , since numerous studies affirm that the aspartame they contain can contribute to increasing the feeling of hunger.

Eat healthy and satisfying food.

Eat healthy and satisfying food

Eating only on the palate can be dangerous. It is better to opt for fruits and vegetables, since they do not suffer from health (different studies affirm that visualizing yourself enjoying while eating healthy food increases the desire to consume these products). In addition, it has been found that when foods are included that satisfy true mental and bodily needs (eg nuts, fruits or vegetables) one gradually stops obsessing over food.

Here are some links to healthy nutrition guidelines:

Take care of the diet, but without eliminating food from it.

The so-called miracle diets have a rebound effect because they end up generating more desire and anxiety to eat, so that the inevitable compulsion to eat something appetizing is produced. In addition, diets cause you to end up disconnecting from your own body and, consequently, from hunger and satiety signals that are used to self-regulate and feed according to your own needs.

Indulge in some sporadic whim.

Sometimes it is not a bad thing to indulge in an occasional treat, but without using food as a reward or escape route. There are times when you feel more vulnerable or simply want to indulge. Do not punish yourself for succumbing one day to a craving, the important thing is that you do not resort to food as a way to anesthetize or compensate for negative emotions. In addition, it has been shown that a poorly varied or bland diet unleashes anxiety about “forbidden” foods, generating an incessant appetite, which triggers the consumption of ultra-processed foods that are enjoyed pleasantly.

Do not get carried away by the “I feel like it.”

Thinking that maintaining a healthy weight increases your vitality and agility. In addition, it helps to fall asleep and prevent those diseases derived from obesity (it is estimated that in Spain around 130,000 people die a year from obesity-related problems).

Distract yourself from the false need to eat.

Calling an acquaintance, changing activities, going for a walk, or doing relaxation or breathing techniques can help make the urge to eat go away.

Another option is to postpone the intake for twenty minutes, so that you can do other activities that help alleviate your anxiety until then, which usually causes the person to lose their appetite during the wait. It can also be helpful to visualize the benefits of resisting the temptation (how you will feel about losing weight, how you will improve your physical appearance, etc.) or remembering what you have eaten during the day, since causes the brain to emit signals of satiety.

In case you can’t resist …

Stop for a minute before taking the first bite, taking at least one deep breath. Remember to chew slowly and slowly, focusing on the taste (for example, melting the chocolate in your mouth). Try eating something healthy (for example, a piece of fruit), because when you eat without real hunger, the desire will disappear or you will be satisfied quickly without harming your health. Another option is to choose to chew gum or drink water. You can also choose to eat something that requires minimal preparation (for example, a sandwich), so that laziness can serve as a deterrent.

Eat slowly, enjoying the food.

To eat calmly, it is important to take a reasonable time, at least half an hour. It is also recommended to eat without being on the phone or watching television. As a sine qua non , you have to eat with a normal level of hunger, since when you are hungry you eat with anxiety. To appreciate food, you have to pay attention to the aroma, texture, color, and even the sound of the various foods involved. Trying to identify all the ingredients that are being savored and chewing the food well, without swallowing, taking small bites (without already preparing the next one), will help you eat more slowly. Before taking the next bite, it is important to have swallowed all the food.

Take into account brain function.

It takes fifteen to twenty minutes for the brain to send the message that it is satiated, so do not wait until it is completely full to stop. Regarding the hormones directly involved in the sensation of hunger and satiety, it should be noted that leptin is responsible for communicating the sensation of satiety, while ghrelin activates the sensation of hunger. Keep in mind that ghrelin is released every three hours, so specialists recommend eating every three or four hours to stay satiated and not end up eating anxiously. On the other hand, some studies have linked inhaling the mint aroma with a lower caloric intake.

Fool the brain.

The brain usually takes external elements as a reference to know if it has ingested enough, so it is advisable to eat from a small plate and with a large fork. Try to avoid that colors such as red and yellow are part of the kitchen decoration, since the brain processes them by activating the mechanisms that make you feel hungry (for this reason, fast food restaurants usually use these colors). On the other hand, it has been observed that foods that are crunchy and require vigorous chewing increase the feeling of fullness, which is why they are highly recommended for snacking.

Have a place to eat, preferably in company.

It may sound absurd a priori, but having a place dedicated solely to eating (for example, the kitchen or living room table) will not associate eating with other activities (for example, eating sitting on the sofa when watching TV). Likewise, eating in company makes one eat more slowly and that, in addition, one can continue to enjoy despite having finished eating. On the other hand, when one has problems controlling the urge to eat, it is recommended to spend a while in the kitchen only when the main meals are being prepared, since this is less likely to be tempted to snack.

Sleep at least seven hours a day.

Reducing the hours of rest below the recommended increase the hormones that stimulate the appetite. Not consuming substances that are exciting or contain caffeine or theine (eg coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, etc.), avoiding prolonged naps (longer than half an hour) and heavy dinners are essential guidelines to maintain adequate sleep hygiene. Also, maintaining a regular sleep schedule and avoiding stimulating overexposure (bright light, noise, etc.) and physical or mental activity hours before bedtime will help you fall asleep.


Exercise, in addition to having beneficial effects on health, helps to discharge negative emotions by secreting endorphins, which improves the mood and reduces anxiety and, therefore, emotional hunger. It should be noted that aerobic sport stimulates the two main hormones responsible for regulating hunger, reducing it and prolonging the feeling of satiety for longer than other exercises.

Be patient.

Remember that food is not the enemy. Not obsessing so much with food, but with achieving the emotional balance that connects with positive emotions provides, because this way the organism will probably go on to regulate itself successfully. In addition, it must be borne in mind that eating habits cannot be changed from one day to the next, so all these recommendations must be incorporated progressively, so that it is easier to take on the challenge.

Go to the specialist.

It is advisable to ask the nutritionist for advice when you cannot reach a normal weight or you have insufficient nutrition education. It is also advisable to go to the psychologist if you do not find enough strength to give up bad habits or when you cannot avoid eating due to anxiety or other negative emotions

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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