Food and Mood. How To Recognise When Your Hungry Or Just Feeding Your Feelings

Food and Mood. How To Recognise When Your Hungry Or Just Feeding Your Feelings

One of the things that I have been guilty of my whole life is feeding my feelings, I have recently researched the effects my moods have on what food I choose to have, as I’m always looking for comfort food when I’m upset then feeling guilty about eating it afterwards making me depressed and starting the whole vicious circle again. But its time for that to stop! so I am eating a lot healthier and training my brain with the following information so that I’m able to recognise when If eating emotionally or if I’m actually hungry.


We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. We also turn to food for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward. Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn’t fix emotional problems. It usually makes you feel worse. Afterwards, not only does the original emotional issue remain, but you also feel guilty for overeating. Learning to recognize your emotional eating triggers is the first step to breaking free from food cravings and compulsive overeating, and changing the habits that have sabotaged your diets in the past.

Understanding emotional eating

If you’ve ever make room for dessert even though you’re already full or dove into a pint of ice cream when you’re feeling down, you’ve experienced emotional eating. Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better—eating to fill emotional needs, rather than to fill your stomach.

Using food from time to time as a pick me up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when eating is your primary emotional coping mechanism—when your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re upset, angry, lonely, stressed, exhausted, or bored—you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.

Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before because of the unnecessary calories you consumed. You beat yourself for messing up and not having more willpower. Compounding the problem, you stop learning healthier ways to deal with your emotions, you have a harder and harder time controlling your weight, and you feel increasingly powerless over both food and your feelings.

Are you an emotional eater?

  • Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed?
  • Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full?
  • Do you eat to feel better (to calm and soothe yourself when you’re sad, mad, bored, anxious, etc.)?
  • Do you reward yourself with food?
  • Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself?
  • Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like food is a friend?
  • Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?

The difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger

Before you can break free from the cycle of emotional eating, you first need to learn how to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger. This can be trickier than it sounds, especially if you regularly use food to deal with your feelings.

Emotional hunger can be powerful. As a result, it’s easy to mistake it for physical hunger. But there are clues you can look for that can help you tell physical and emotional hunger apart.

  • Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. It hits you in an instant and feels overwhelming and urgent. Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on more gradually. The urge to eat doesn’t feel as dire or demand instant satisfaction (unless you haven’t eaten for a very long time).
  • Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods. When you’re physically hungry, almost anything sounds good—including healthy stuff like vegetables. But emotional hunger craves fatty foods or sugary snacks that provide an instant rush. You feel like you need cheesecake or pizza, and nothing else will do.
  • Emotional hunger often leads to mindless eating. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a whole bag of chips or an entire pint of ice cream without really paying attention or fully enjoying it. When you’re eating in response to physical hunger, you’re typically more aware of what you’re doing.
  • Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied once you’re full. You keep wanting more and more, often eating until you’re uncomfortably stuffed. Physical hunger, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be stuffed. You feel satisfied when your stomach is full.
  • Emotional hunger isn’t located in the stomach. Rather than a growling belly or a pang in your stomach, you feel your hunger as a craving you can’t get out of your head. You’re focused on specific textures, tastes, and smells.
  • Emotional hunger often leads to regret, guilt, or shame. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger, you’re unlikely to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re simply giving your body what it needs. If you feel guilty after you eat, it’s likely because you know deep down that you’re not eating for nutritional reasons.
Emotional hunger                                                                       vs.                                    Physical hunger
Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. Physical hunger comes on gradually.
Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly. Physical hunger can wait.
Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods. Physical hunger is open to options–lots of things sound good.
Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied with a full stomach. Physical hunger stops when you’re full.
Emotional eating triggers feelings of guilt, powerlessness, and shame. Eating to satisfy physical hunger doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself.

Common causes of emotional eating

  • Stress – Ever notice how stress makes you hungry? It’s not just in your mind. When stress is chronic, as it so often is in our chaotic, fast-paced world, it leads to high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and high-fat foods—foods that give you a burst of energy and pleasure. The more uncontrolled stress in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief.
  • Stuffing emotions – Eating can be a way to temporarily silence or “stuff down” uncomfortable emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame. While you’re numbing yourself with food, you can avoid the emotions you’d rather not feel.
  • Boredom or feelings of emptiness – Do you ever eat simply to give yourself something to do, to relieve boredom, or as a way to fill a void in your life? You feel unfulfilled and empty, and food is a way to occupy your mouth and your time. In the moment, it fills you up and distracts you from underlying feelings of purposelessness and dissatisfaction with your life.
  • Childhood habits – Think back to your childhood memories of food. Did your parents reward good behaviour with ice cream, take you out for pizza when you got a good report card, or serve you sweets when you were feeling sad? These emotionally-based childhood eating habits often carry over into adulthood. Or perhaps some of your eating is driven by nostalgia—for cherishes memories of grilling burgers in the backyard with your dad, baking and eating cookies with your mom, or gathering around the table with your extended family for a home-cooked pasta dinner.
  • Social influences – Getting together with other people for a meal is a great way to relieve stress, but it can also lead to overeating. It’s easy to overindulge simply because the food is there or because everyone else is eating. You may also overeat in social situations out of nervousness. Or perhaps your family or circle of friends encourages you to overeat, and it’s easier to go along with the group.

Alternatives to emotional eating

  • If you’re depressed or lonely, call someone who always makes you feel better, play with your dog or cat, or look at a favourite photo or cherished memento.
  • If you’re anxious, expend your nervous energy by dancing to your favourite song, squeezing a stress ball, or taking a brisk walk.
  • If you’re exhausted, treat yourself with a hot cup of tea, take a bath, light some scented candles, or wrap yourself in a warm blanket.
  • If you’re bored, read a good book, watch a comedy show, explore the outdoors, or turn to an activity you enjoy (woodworking, playing the guitar, shooting hoops, scrapbooking, etc.).


Vigilantes – Causing More Harm Than Good?

Vigilantes – Causing More Harm Than Good?

I have seen enough in the news of people being wrongly accused of being sex offenders, paedophiles etc. Innocent people have been beaten to death, set on fire, chased from their family homes and committed suicide from the stress.

In some cases all one has to do is use the word ‘paedophile’ or state that the person in question has been grooming their daughter/sister/brothers dog or whatever, and the world is against the accused. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? I appreciate that in some cases guilty people are also wrongly cleared of such offences and that is terrible, but all we can do is hope that if that is the case the truth will eventually come to light.

What has triggered this rant, is a series of articles I have read in the news and on social networking sites. I read stories about how being wrongly accused has affected peoples lives not just the court cases & harm they have come too, but the way it affects their mental health for the remainder of their lives, their jobs and their relationships with their family’s and friends. Once accused it often stays with them forever. After all, there is no smoke without fire, right? Wrong.

Sometimes these accusations go horribly wrong, like the man beaten to death and set on fire in 2013 after being wrongly accused of being a sex offender. I saw a Facebook post that had a picture of a man, clearly disabled alongside a message that read ‘This guy has been grooming my daughter and looking at her photos, share this and let everyone know who to watch out for’  it turned out the man in the picture was actually blind and this had not been the case.

I then read about the paedophile hunter that had posed as a twelve year old in order to trap a suspected paedophile and then shared his videos of his investigation online in attempt to name and shame the suspect. As a result the suspect committed suicide, which in my opinion isn’t justice.

I’m not saying that the man in question wasn’t in the wrong, he had gone to meet what he thought was a teenager, his intentions were clearly wrong and he should have been punished. On this occasion the hunter was correct in identifying a potential offender, but maybe if the he handed the video and evidence straight to the police rather than go on a mission for his own glory then things would have been different and he would have been brought to justice the proper way. By making the videos public, it  jeopardizes any ongoing police case, gives the suspect warning to get rid of any potential evidence and puts further people in danger. 

It also doesn’t mean he is going to be right about every suspect he takes to the internet to expose. Lives are being shattered, families are being targeted via inboxes and telephone calls. Why should an innocent family be subjected to abuse, they shouldn’t be it’s not their fault. These videos, images of suspects should NEVER BE POSTED on a social network.

Not only is the hunter putting himself in a dangerous position by taking this on himself, but he is breaking the law and had previously been warned that he was compromising investigations, yet he carried on doing this himself. It makes me wonder what kind of issues this guy was going through in the first place to become a self proclaimed ‘paedophile hunter’.

So, what is it with people trying to take the law into their own hands? Thinking it’s OK to expose people and ‘name & shame’. These ‘do-gooders’ should consider the reasons that we have trial by jury. The fact that someone is charged or accused does not mean they are guilty, or innocent for that matter.

Even in the cases where people have been proven guilty of these offences, is it then OK for us to take matters in our own hands? is it up to us to punish them?  having someone tortured or hounding them into committing suicide is not how it should be dealt with. Two wrongs do not make a right. I mean, where does it all end? Is the next step for the public to start tackling muggers, or people they perceive as muggers?

Dont always believe what you read on social networking sites, it could be people out for revenge, it could be edited images/videos. If you believe that you have information that you think that can help bring a criminal to justice then call a professional and let them do what they are trained to do.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) say ‘We understand the desire to protect children but any member of the public who has information about child sexual abuse, online or otherwise, should get in contact with the police so we can investigate and bring people to justice.’

We should also be taking more action to  educate youngsters about the PANTS  rule & the dangers of speaking to people online etc. Sadly this wont stop these things from happening. But if a child knows what to do in a situation or knows the boundaries, we can try and prevent it happening as much as possible and hopefully bring the offenders to justice in the correct way.

Want to talk to your kids but dont know how? check out these blog posts

Stranger Danger

The PANTS Rule