If Hunger Is Not the Question

Answer Not In the FridgeDo you ever find yourself trying to solve a problem, besides hunger, with food?  I certainly struggled with emotional eating in the past and honestly, I still battle the problem today.  Because I am “aware” now, I am able to control the emotional eating whereas I seemingly had no control in the past but make no mistake; it is still a battle for me, every day.

Our meeting topic last week was about food not being the answer and it was really great for me as the emotional battle has really been raging in my head lately.  I don’t know why, but it has.  I am not particularly stressed about anything right now and I am certainly not sad or unhappy, so I kept wondering what my problem was.  As I was reminded on Friday, happiness is an emotion too and many people eat because of that emotion as well.

So how do we battle this demon in our mind and remind ourselves that when hunger is not the question, food is not the answer?

Step one for me is keeping trigger foods out of my environment.  However, when “danger” foods are not around, I often find myself still looking for “something.”  Here lately, I find one thing that really helps me is to leave the house when I seem to be in search of some food but I am not hungry and I have no idea what I am looking for.  When one of those moments hits and I am having trouble getting past it, I will leave and go do some errands or if I don’t have a particular errand to do, I will go to the library and browse for a while.  The point is to get away from the food until whatever I am feeling has passed.

Step two is to try to identify why I am feeling the way I am feeling.  Am I happy, sad, stressed, bored, lonely, etc.; and then work on dealing with those feelings.  If I am happy, how else could “celebrate” without food?  If I am sad or stressed what activity could I engage in that would make me feel better?  Oftentimes, exercise really helps me to feel better as it gets those good endorphins flowing in your body.  If I am bored I can always find projects around the house to do or I could read a book I’ve wanted to read.  If I am lonely, I am blessed with many family members and friends who I could call and catch up with.

Eating Your Emotions

Step three for me is to think about how I am going to feel if I give in to an emotional eating urge.  Not only am I going to feel guilty and feel bad about myself, like I have failed myself, but I am probably going to feel bad physically as well.  I have often thought about printing a description of those feelings and hanging it in the pantry and on the refrigerator to remind myself when I am about to slip.

There are so many ways to combat emotional eating including exercising, calling a friend, finding something to do to keep your hands busy, taking a class, learning a new hobby, journaling, and the list goes on and on.  The key is identifying the emotions behind your mindless eating and then finding the best technique for you for battling those emotions.  Most importantly, follow through with what you need to do to get through the situation and protect yourself.  All of this was a great refresher for me and I am feeling much stronger this week having been reminded of all of this.

We Don't Enjoy Food Enough


  1. I like the way you mention both good and bad emotions as triggers for eating. How true it is to celebrate with food! Another emotion that is very powerful is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of starting something new, fear of just getting out of your normal routine can bring about strong feelings and doubts. When this happens your brain wants comfort and since your brain’s mainstay is sugar, food is the fast solution. I urge all to take the challenge and face fear head on. The reality is usually not as overpowering as you may have imagined. Be strong. You are stronger than you think you are.

    • Thank you so much for bringing up fear, Gail. As much as that emotion has influenced my overeating in the past, I can’t believe I forgot to list it in the post. I love your advice of facing fear head on. It’s difficult, but it’s a far better method than overeating! You are so right…what you are afraid of usually is not nearly as scary as you imagined it would be. Yes, we are stronger than we think we are. Thank you so much for your continued support and friendship!!!

  2. I understand. Yesterday I was feeling particularly irritable and the first thing I thought was what can I eat. I caught myself and wrote about it in my journal instead. Emotions can be tough.

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