The 7 Signs of Emotional Eating

Why do people eat when they’re not hungry?

Our bodies have an inbuilt mechanism that tells us when we’re hungry and when we’re full.  The system works perfectly for naturally slim people – they eat when they are hungry, and stop when they are full.

Emotional eaters have learned, through conditioning, to ignore their natural hunger and satiety system. Emotional eaters carry on eating for psychological reasons rather the physical need for fuel, and they often feel bloated, tired and guilty when they do finally stop.

Emotional eating vs. physical hunger

Are you an emotional eater? Do you always eat because you’re physically hungry? If you’re honest, do you rarely feel physically full and are always on ‘top-up’?  How can you spot the signs of emotional eating vs. eating for nourishment for your body?

Have a look at the distinctive differences between emotional and physical hunger below¹.  How many of the signs of emotional eating do you recognise?

1. Sudden vs. Gradual

fast-emotional-eatingEmotional eating is sudden. You get an immediate urge to each NOW and need INSTANT gratification.

With Physical Hunger, your stomach starts rumbling, later is growls, STEADILY telling you when to eat.

2. Head vs. Stomach


Emotional eating starts in your head. Cravings begin in your mouth and your mind – your head is filled with thoughts about your desired food.

Physical Hunger begins in your stomach. You feel a rumbling emptiness and even pain as your physical hunger starts to build.

3. Urgent & Specific vs. Patient & Open


Emotional eating is urgent and desires specific food. It wants immediate gratification for a specific type of food, such as chocolate, cakes, burgers or pizza. No substitute will do and you need to eat NOW.

Physical Hunger is more patient and open to choice. Although you would prefer to eat a particular food type now, you can wait and are flexible and open to alternative food choices.

4. Feeling Emotional vs. Physical Need


Emotional eating is associated with feeling emotional – Perhaps you have been shouted at, had an argument or dumped. Or maybe you’re celebrating something special. It’s linked with an emotional situation.

Physical hunger is a result of a physical need for food. It has been 4-5 hours since your last meal; you need to fuel up again. You may lack energy or feel light headed if overly hungry.

5. Absent-Minded vs. Awareness


Emotional eating is absent-minded. Automatic eating, where you don’t even notice the food going into your mouth. For example, it is only when the last one is gone, that you realise you have eaten the whole packet of biscuits.

With physical hunger you are aware of your food. You are fully aware of the food on your fork, in your mouth and in your stomach. You can choose whether to eat everything on your plate or just leave what you don’t need.

6. Don’t Notice or Stop When Full  vs. Stops When Full Up


With emotional eating, you don’t notice or stop when you’re full up. By using food to cover up feelings, you carry on eating to deaden emotions even if your stomach is hurting from fullness.

Physical hunger stops when you are full up. Physical hunger seeks to fuel and nourish your body. Once that intention has been fulfilled and the need is satisfied, you stop

7. Guilt vs. Necessary


Emotional eating feels guilty. Emotional overeating seeks to make you feel better, but the paradox is that when you realise how much and what you’ve eaten, you start to feeling guilty. You may even make promises, which are unlikely to be kept, such as ‘the diet starts Monday’.

Physical hunger knows eating is a necessity.  You appreciate eating food, like breathing oxygen and drinking water, is necessary for your survival. It is a positive behaviour when you eat for physical hunger. There is no guilt or shame.

Break free from emotional eating to lose weight and keep it off

Emotional eaters are ‘conditioned’ to eat when they’re upset, tired, bored, lonely, depressed, celebrating, happy etc. As children we can be taught that food can bring comfort. You may have been given sweet treats as a reward for being good, or perhaps when you’d fallen over and hurt yourself for example.

With an advanced weight loss hypnotherapy programme, you can recondition this behaviour and redirect that emotional satisfaction you get from food to something healthier and more appropriate.

Eat what you want, when you want

The key to breaking emotional eating is dealing with the root cause of the ‘real’ problem. Once emotional needs for overeating have been addressed, the mind can be trained to reconnect with the body, relearning and recognising the feelings of ‘real’ physical hunger. Advanced hypnotherapy, including sophisticated age regression techniques, are quick, effective and in many cases can be a permanent solution to long-term weight issues.

¹7 signs of emotional eating adapted from Constant Craving: What Your Food Cravings Mean and How to Overcome Them by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D., published by Hay House, Inc., 1995

Find out how hypnotherapy could help you stop emotional eating

If you’re serious about resolving your weight issues long-term, contact Katie Glen on 020 8712 5981 to find out more about how advanced hypnotherapy can help you stop emotional eating, break free from your battles with food and lose weight for good.