Sometimes, we feel hungry not because we’re physically hungry, but because we’re trying to fill an emotional void. We may be feeling sad, stressed, tired, lonely, bored, etc. Everything is temporary. Everyone comes and goes. Anyone can hurt you. But food is always there for you. Food always makes you feel good. We can depend on food. Consuming food releases feel-good endorphins in our body, making us feel happy for a little while, filling that emotional void. This often leads to overeating, mindless eating, and consumption of unhealthy food. 

We feel a bit hopeless. We may feel like it’s too hard to resolve our emotional problems. How are we going to feel better? Eating is the easiest, quickest solution. But it is only temporary. Our emotional issues still persist. We need to find healthier, more sustainable ways to cope with our emotions. I know it’s easier said than done because emotions are complex things. 

If you’re feeling sad or stressed, you can try to talk to someone you trust. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, you can write about your feelings in a journal. Try to understand what’s causing you to feel sad. Try to rationalize your feelings or find a way to solve the issue. Changing the mindset can also help. You can listen to your favorite music or do some exercise. Exercise is proven to make you feel happier. Spending time in nature has also been shown to boost the mood. Or try to do some hobbies that you like to do, that make you feel happy.

Loneliness can be a killer, but only if you let it. If you’re feeling lonely and you have no one to talk to and no one to spend time with, you can join a support group, a group class, or attend some community event to meet people. It is also okay to be alone. We can be happy alone, learning to find happiness from within, without needing other people. Because everything is temporary. Everyone comes and goes in life. The only person who’s always there for you is yourself. Learn to enjoy spending time with yourself, doing things you like to do. You can fill up your time with hobbies. Or you can do nothing at all. That is the ultimate meditation. To feel content just being, no need to do anything or have anything. Once you are happy with yourself, your positive energy will attract others.

Emotional eating is a form of escapism: the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities. There are many other forms of escapism, some healthy like music, reading, socializing, dreaming, art. When something becomes extreme, it becomes unhealthy: binge drinking, smoking addiction, emotional binge eating. Eating for pleasure is a great way to enjoy oneself. But once it becomes an addiction and the only way to feel good, it is a problem. 

Next time when you find yourself overeating, ask yourself, “Am I really physically hungry? Or am I just emotionally hungry?” Feed your emotional soul with self care. Stress eating is a not a solution for life’s challenges.     Try to practice mindful eating. Really think about, look at, smell, taste, and treasure every bite you take. Feel each bite of food go into your stomach, filling it up. Think about how this food nourishes your mind and body. It will help you truly recognize when you are hungry and when you are comfortably full.