Emotional Eating Vs. Physical Hunger

By      16-Apr 2020       Reading Time: 5 Mins

Emotional Eating Vs. Physical Hunger

All of us have different coping mechanisms to deal with stress, anxiety or ever day hassles. Some of us might isolate ourselves, while others would socialize to distract themselves to deal with the circumstances. Dealing with problems and stress is very personal and so is the coping mechanism. People try to find comfort in various activities when facing a stressful situation. Someone can find comfort in being alone or watching their favorite movie or by simply talking to a loved one. Finding comfort in eating is very common. It comes under the umbrella of emotional eating.

Emotional eating involves reaching out for food to suppress your negative feelings and thoughts that cause discomfort. People who engage in this kind of eating often do so in order to feel better about themselves. There is this feeling of fueling your body so that you can take action against whatever is causing stress. You could be craving a bucket of ice cream or your favorite sandwiches after a tiring or stressful day because that’s the easiest way to find comfort. But emotional eating can have serious implications on your health. It interferes with making healthy food choices. Emotional eating is a leading cause of increased weight gain.
Here are a few reasons for emotional eating:

  • Stress
  • Boredom
  • Food as a reward
  • To feel better
  • Tolerating emotions

While emotional eating can affect anyone, it is more common in women as compared to men. Now try to understand what is physical hunger. Humans require food for them to function and live a healthy life. Physical hunger means eating when the body signals that it is hungry. But emotional hunger is very different from this.
These are some clues that can help you understand the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger:

  • Emotional hunger is usually sudden as compared to physical hunger and it demands instant satisfaction. On the other hand, physical hunger is more gradual and doesn’t indicate any urgency.
  • The body craves for certain food items such as junk food or snacks in emotional hunger. Physical hunger is just governed by the need to eat be it any variety of food.
  • A feeling of shame or guilt is followed after emotional eating because you are aware that you are simply stuffing the body with unhealthy and junk food. This is not the case in physical hunger because you know that you are just catering to the needs of your body with nutritious food.
  • Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied even after you are full. There is no endpoint in emotional eating until it makes you extremely uncomfortable and unable to eat any more food. You sense the feeling of fullness and satisfaction after consuming a decent amount of food in physical hunger.


It is necessary for you to identify what type of hunger drives your body and how you cope with it. Finding comfort in food is very convenient as it is easily accessible. In addition to this, following a healthy eating habit is important to avoid the risk of illness and diseases.

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"At Nmami Life, the meaning of good health is a combination of nutrition and fitness, which are essential to your well-being."
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Nmami Agarwal

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