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freckles's avatar

How do I separate hunger and food from my emotions?

Asked by freckles (363points) February 24th, 2010

I have realized that when I am craving something unhealthy, I feel upset emotionally when I don’t eat it. Instead of just my body being upset hungry, my emotions get thrown in there. This is silly. I would rather save my emotional energy, positive and negative for the things that really matter in my life.

Any suggestions on how to separate emotion from hunger?

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19 Answers

MrGV's avatar

Find a hobby to keep busy, workout, go out with friends are just some options.

Likeradar's avatar

God, I hear ya.
Maybe you’re using the craving for junk food to mask an emotion, and it seems like the emotion is connected to not getting the food. Does that make sense? Ask yourself what you’re really emotional about. Maybe I’ll try that next time I feel sad I’m not near a Dairy Queen.

tedibear's avatar

@freckles – There’s a wonderful book called “The Food and Feelings Workbook” by Karen Koenig. Buy it, work through it. You’ll be amazed. I only did the first couple of chapters and it helped me immensely. I got it from, but it may be available elsewhere.

marinelife's avatar

You have already had a major breakthrough by recognizing the connection between food and feelings that you have.

You can create a list of substitute activities instead of eating such as taking a bath, talking to a friend on the phone, going for a walk. All things that give you pleasure. Then you can go down the list if you are tempted to eat.

wundayatta's avatar

Whenever I’m depressed, I have an urge to go to McDonalds. I guess when I’m down, I don’t feel like taking care of myself. In fact, it’s to the point that whenever I find myself wanting to go to McDonalds, I realize that I must be getting depressed. Like a symptom.

mass_pike4's avatar

eat a snickers..

phoebusg's avatar

Substitute the food for a healthy drink. Make sure you’re not thirsty, the thirst signal can easily be taken for hunger especially if in low mood. You could also try some sort of physical activity paired with hydration.

Jeruba's avatar

It seems to me that the answers above are a response to a question about eating behavior along the lines of “Why do I feel like eating when I’m upset?”

The OP actually asked “Why do I feel upset when I can’t eat something I want?” (or, more precisely, “How do I stop feeling upset when I can’t eat something I want?”).

Those are probably related, but they’re not the same.

Cruiser's avatar

First thing you could do is only keep healthy food on hand especially whole foods like fresh fruit and veggies. And when you get that urge…break out the veggies like celery…and go for a brisk walk. Exercising when you get these urges will help you replace your desire to eat with a healthier alternative.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

I just learned this last year sometime that when you eat because of an emotion, you are feeding that emotion.

For me, when I’m upset, nervous, worried etc…I cannot eat or drink anything but lots and lots of water when I’m feeling off.
I have always been this way. No exceptions.
If I’m having dinner out with my so, and things turn sour, I just can not eat another bite.

MrsDufresne's avatar

The first thing I would suggest is that you eat three substantial and healthy meals a day, and two snacks in between if you wish. Be conscious about the time of day when you have your meals.

When you feel emotional pain, recognize that eating something will not make the pain resolve itself. Reaching for food to ease the physical hurt of emotional pain is sort of the same as taking an aspirin for a headache. It will not cure the underlying cause, it will just ease the physical hurt temporarily.

Allow yourself to feel the hurt inside your body without reaching for food to ease it. Cry if you have to. Give your body permission to feel the pain.

This may be very difficult to do at first, but over time, it will become easier to recognize that emotional pain can only be fully resolved by it’s awareness, and thorough, constructive expression. A wise man once said, “The only way out is through.”

By eating, it seems like that is an attempt to nourish (and therefore heal) the part that hurts. But in order to heal, the pain needs cleansing, not nourishment.

All the best to you.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Don’t know, I am not good at doing this.

ChaosCross's avatar

Get water, drink lots of it when you get the craving.

tedibear's avatar

@freckles – Please come back to clarify! I read @Jeruba‘s comment and now need to know which you meant. Thank you.

freckles's avatar

@jeruba yeah, you are right. What I’m asking about right now is indeed, why do I feel negative emotions when I stop myself from fulfilling every eating craving I want. Not that I want to eat because I’m sad, but vice versa. Thanks for seeing that Jeruba!

tedibear's avatar

@freckles – Thank you for coming back to clarify! If you ever find yourself eating emotionally, my book recommendation stands!

freckles's avatar

@tedibear Thanks, and that is something I experience at times too, so that info is helpful as well. Thanks!!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. When you want to eat something you should not, think of that person in a foreign country that don’t have the choice as to fell bad because they eat something they shouldn’t but feel bad they can’t get enough to even keep their youngest alive. Them maybe you might see that Twinkie and being quite small, or those Ho Hos marginal.

thriftymaid's avatar

You stated that this is silly. I agree.

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