Covid-19 and Emotional Hunger

During these days, where we spent a lot of time at home keeping our social distance, our eating habits are changing. But how?

Dr. Timur Fadıl OĞUZ, MD

When we feel stressed and sad, we eat. When we are happy and celebrating, we also eat and sometimes (most of the time) we eat out of boredom. Especially during these days, we cannot stop eating junk food out of doing nothing at home and boredom.

Dr. Timur Fadıl OĞUZ, MD

“Boredom is the number one reason behind emotional hunger. Often when we are full and just looking for something that will entertain us, we ignore our signs of being full and hungry and look for something to eat.”

However, the thing is there is a difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger.

Physical hunger depends on when you have eaten something. On the other hand, emotional hunger is triggered by factors such as stress, anxiety or fatigue.

I feel HUNGRY? 

Dr. OĞUZ says that when you are about the eat or if you think that you might be hungry, you should at least take second to ask yourself this important question: “What do I want to eat and why do I want to eat now?”

You must take your hunger seriously, however, first try to understand what is going on. Are you really hungry? Or are you sad about something or just bored and want to eat something to pass the time?

Most of the time, emotional hunger is the way of your body telling you that you need something comforting. In fact, instead of eating something, maybe you need a small break or a quick fitness session to blow off some steam. Do not forget that your energy levels are also tied to hunger. Doing something that will increase your energy, coming up with an alternative that will make you happy or keeping your mind occupied with other activities will benefit you a lot to appease your emotional hunger.

“Determine what you actually feeling and find the fitting emotion that comes with this feeling. If you are feeling stressed, try to focus on things that might relax you, if you are bored, tried to do something fun".

One other reason for emotional eating is "distractors".

“People have the tendency to ignore their emotional hunger and mistake it for physical hunger because they are either in front of their TVs or computers. The most important rule is that when you are eating, just eat. Do not eat in front of the TV or when you are surfing the internet."

Why am I hungry? Tips to overcome emotional eating

Dr. OĞUZ says that instead of asking yourself whether you are full or not, as yourself whether you are happy or what you need at that moment rather than what you want. “Usually, if you ask yourself ‘what do I want to eat’, you can come up with various options, however, the question of ‘what do I need’ motives you to be more specific and careful.”

You can apply these tips to overcome emotional eating:

If you think you are hungry and on your way to your fridge to eat something, stop and take a five-minute break.

Determine whether you are really hungry, or it is emotional hunger you are feeling. Remember the last time and how much you ate.

If you think that the hunger you are felling is emotional, do something to distract yourself and take a break from what you are currently doing.

Try to do something fun or relaxing.

Still struggling against emotional eating?

If you do not make any progress despite all your efforts, it is best to consult your doctor.

Sometimes psychological conditions, thyroid-related problems or sleep deprivation may prevent you to listen to yourself.