Don't eat away your feelings!

Health 'N Vibe


Ever since the lockdown started, every time I felt lonely or sad I’d either pick up my phone to order something to eat from outside or grab chocolates, chips, desserts, pasta, instant noodles, or shakes to eat instead of an apple or a healthy snack. 

I spoke to a few friends and noticed that it had become a pattern with others too. I feel everyone living on this planet goes through this process at some point in their lives. That is, when we start using food to comfort ourselves rather than to nourish our bodies. We use food to tell ourselves that “all is well” and cope with all that is coming our way by stuffing ourselves with excess junk, fried and oily foods. Infact, I just did that for my sister-in-law too, she was upset and I ordered a Belgian Waffle to comfort her and divert her mind. Which reminds me, I have to be more conscious of my actions towards my closed ones too as I shouldn’t contribute to their emotional eating, instead help them come out of it.

I realized that whether I was stressed, happy, bored, sad, angry, tired, lonely, anxious, agitated, in a bad mood, in pain or under pressure I WOULD ONLY LOOK FORWARD TO FOOD. Infact, we all are conditioned to do that from the minute we are born. We celebrate our birthdays with desserts, drinks, cakes and what not. If you look at it, all our social gatherings involve huge feasts and so our mind starts conditioning food to emotions and thus we fall in this vicious trap that we are never able to come out of. We would immediately reach out for refined foods, salts, sugars and fats because they have an immediate calming effect on our body. We need comfort in that moment and it works. Eating prompts the brain to release certain “feel good” hormones, known as endorphins. Research has found that these naturally occurring opioids produce a sense of pleasure or euphoria in the brain thus giving us a break from our emotional problems.

Therefore, it is important that we make our mind understand the difference between physical and emotional hunger.

If it is time for a meal, our stomach is grumbling, we are experiencing slight burps due to acidity or a headache is coming on, then we are actually hungry. But if we binge eat while watching a show or when we feel low, have unnecessary cravings for unhealthy foods or when we mindlessly munch on potato chips while cramming for exams or putting together a presentation, it is emotional hunger.

Feeding ourselves for any reason other than hunger is not eating; it is called emotional eating. Let’s use food only for the purpose it is meant for, that is to nourish our bodies. Emotional problems need emotional solutions. It is important to address them instead of running away from them using food. So it is important to relearn how to eat.

 That plate of ‘BHAJIYAS’ or ‘CREAMY PASTA’ will not solve the problem in hand but will land you in another problem to solve such as a feeling of guilt for eating the extra calories and physical discomforts like bloating, indigestion and piling on extra pounds.

 Remember we must not feed our emotions. Like difficult times, emotions pass as well. Understand that you are actually full of emotions at this point which you are suppressing. They need to be expressed. But how do we do that?

Find Self Compassion through Journaling

What we have to do first is to learn to identify our emotions. Try to recognize the feeling that is creating the desire to eat. It could be anything like

  • stress at work
  • anxiety in a relationship
  • missing human interaction
  • grieving the loss of a loved one
  • heart break
  • fight with a friend
  • pressure to look perfect.

After this we address the said emotion using Journaling. It is a great instrument to overcome emotional eating. Writing down what we are eating and why, then having a dialogue with ourself. “Why do I want to eat despite being full? What is the feeling that is creating the desire to eat?” Once we know the reason, we need to process it. And we can do this by applying the following coping mechanisms:


Nothing calms the mind like a deep breath

When our body is in stress our breath becomes shallow and just a few deep breaths can make a huge difference. Identifying the emotion that comes up and being with it for a while. If you want to cry, let out your tears. If you get angry, express it. You will calm down eventually. 


Sit down and sip a glass of plain water, lemon water or coconut water. Hydrating our body is an essential first aid move when our body needs emotional or physical support.


Try spending some time in nature. A change of surroundings works towards rebooting your mind. And morning time is the best time to do this.  


Paint, dance, stitch, wash your car, take a bubble bath, read a book or listen to some music. HECK! You can even watch an episode of stand-up comedy and you will feel rejuvenated. Do whatever gives you pleasure. Getting caught up in doing something we enjoy refocuses our mind. It provides entertainment and improves our overall well being. And it helps to fight boredom too.


Caring for a pet takes focus away from our problems. It relieves anxiety, provides companionship and encourages playfulness and exercise.


Dial a friend’s number to chat. Connect with people who love you, support you and care for you.  


Step out for a 15 minute brisk walk in the park or around your building. Jog, swim, play a sport, or any other physical activity that gives you happiness.


They work great towards stopping emotional eating.


As a rule, please do not keep any unhealthy foods around in the house. Keep foods like cucumbers, carrots or yogurt which are better for your health anytime.


Yoga and meditation are amazing ways to get over your toxic relationship with food. It offers an escape from the mind’s worries and thoughts which are the source of emotional eating.

If you are stuck in a vicious cycle of emotional eating and wish to be free from it, our Habit Development Experts are here to help. Book a free consultation with Health n Vibe and break your unhealthy bond with food.

-Disha, Head Wellness Coach at Health n Vibe