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Learn how to deal with emotional hunger – Living Healthy


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 5% of the Brazilian population suffers from eating disorders, around 10 million people. Often, food becomes a form of distraction to escape reality and relieve momentary pain, as emotional eating is associated with habits conditioned by our mood. In these cases, the person does not eat out of physiological hunger, but to satisfy emotional needs.










In emotional hunger, we eat automatically, without being aware of the time, schedule, or amounts.

Foto: Adobe Stock



“When someone is feeling anxious and devours a pot of ice cream alone, the pleasure is instantaneous. In other words, the reward and the immediate feeling of well-being help to reduce anxiety”, justifies the psychologist Monica Machado.

Anxious people prefer foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates as they provide a quick feeling of pleasure. Some foods activate the limbic system in the brain, a region involved with the “gain and reward” mechanism. For example, when eating sweets, there is a momentary decrease in anxiety. This effect ends up being registered by the brain as a solution to combat stress.

“That is, every time the person is anxious, there will automatically be an association with sweets, as a kind of relief and escape.”

feeling of guilt

It is worth remembering that trying a new delicacy and delighting yourself is totally natural. “However, if a person finds that food an exclusive source of satisfaction, to the point of stocking the item at home and eating a lot of it every day to feel good, that will only lead to a spiral of problems.”

According to Monica, eating without hunger, without paying attention to food, is a very common habit in anxiety. However, spending all day trying to control the urge to eat can shoot yourself in the foot and lead to binge eating. At a certain point, the person gives in and ends up eating large amounts of food in a short time. Worse: you can’t stop eating, even though you’re already satiated and with abdominal discomfort from exaggerated intake.

And how to identify? The psychologist highlights that emotional hunger appears unexpectedly, it is not limited to quantities, it almost always includes fatty or sweet foods, we do not feel satiated and after eating the feeling is of guilt.

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