Feeding Your Feelings

When it comes to food, eating does a lot more than fill up our stomachs! Asides from curbing cravings and providing us with the energy we need to survive, food can also satisfy our feelings, providing us with comfort particularly when we are feeling low.

How many times have you reached for the tub of ice-cream after a bad day? Or repeatedly opened the fridge door when your bored? These are examples of “emotional eating”, where the consumption of food is used to divert feelings that you would rather not deal with. Unfortunately, eating this way doesn’t fix our emotional problems. In fact the original issue usually still remains and matters are made worse by another feeling of guilt or disappointment due to overeating.

Food however can also be a source of happiness and joy, especially when we associate some of our favourite meals with special events such as weddings, birthday parties and Christmas functions just to name a few. You may also experience joy seeing your family or friends enjoy a meal you made, or have a great feeling of gratitude when you arrive to a home cooked meal after a long day. Guilt, stress, happiness, pleasure, whatever it is, we usually associate some sort of feeling and emotion with food.

So how can we refocus the mind when it comes to food? Firstly, start to recognise triggers that may cause you to eat emotionally in a negative manner. Did you just have a fight with a friend or partner? Are you procrastinating on an assignment? Are you stressed about work or school? Once the trigger is identified, go on to ask yourself how the food you are about to eat is going to serve you. Are you physically hungry, or are you looking for comfort or a distraction? Identifying these triggers is the first step to understanding our emotional relationship with food, and allowing us to appreciate food all the more.


There are so many reasons to be grateful and joyous about the food that is put on our table. Most of us don’t have to go to a rubbish dump to search for scraps to live on, fight for our food for survival or live on one meal of rice because it is all that we can afford. Once we can start to create this link and refrain from feeding our emotions, our mind and body will thank us for it!


Some tips to help recognise the difference between physical and emotional hunger:


Emotional hunger      Vs     Physical hunger


Emotional hunger comes on suddenly Physical hunger comes on gradually
Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied straight away Physical hunger can wait
Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods Physical hunger is open to options
Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied with a full stomach Physical hunger stops when you’re full
Emotional eating triggers feelings of guilt and shame Eating to satisfy physical hunger doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself



Emily Jensen

Emily is a nutritionist (and soon to be naturopath and medical herbalist!) who is passionate about helping others achieve optimal health, wellness and happiness in all aspects of life.