Why You Should Never Eat Based on Your Emotions



Emotional eating is common.  People eat when they are bored, feeling sad, feeling lonely, feeling angry, feeling happy, feeling stressed, etc.  Many people treat any feeling as a reason to eat.

While it is true that certain foods trigger a temporary sensation that makes you feel better for abut 30 minutes; often times, the “comfort foods” you choose to eat do far more damage than the temporary good or satiating feeling they provide.

Examples of comfort foods include: pasta, bread, desserts, ice cream and processed junk food.  The problem with these foods is that they contain sugar and simple refined carbohydrates.  So what’s so bad about that?  Sugar and processed foods  cause inflammation, metabolic syndrome, weight gain, insulin residence, high cholesterol, auto-immune disease, high blood pressure[1], the double chin, the unwanted love handles etc.

This in turn leads to negative self image, depression, anxiety, “foggy brain,” low productivity, low self esteem.  Guess what happens next?  You feel sad, so you eat.  You feel deflated, so you eat.  You feel discouraged, so you eat.  Do you see the vicious cycle?

It is simply not healthy to drown out your emotions with food, alcohol or any substance.  In reality, you are only substituting one problem for another.

I’m not going to suggest healthy food replacement options for emotional eating.  The truth of the matter is, there is none.  If the sole reason you are going to the refrigerator is because of an emotion, the best thing to eat is absolutely nothing!  End of story!

Mindless snacking is deleterious to your health.  You do not need extra calories, you should allow your body to use up the fuel it already has.  Evolutionarily speaking, our ancestors did not graze all day.  In fact, they went through periods of fast and famine and that is how they metabolically adapted.  When we go through periods of fast and famine, that’s when we are metabolically flexible and function at our best.[2]

Another name for that is intermittent fasting[3].  Intermittent fasting, even throughout the day, is the easiest way to reset your body and ensure you do not become insulin resistant and that your hormones are balanced and function properly.  It is also the easiest way to manage your weight and stay healthy.[4]  The bottom line is you do not need to be snacking constantly throughout the day, and especially late at night.

Just like your brain, your organs have a circadian rhythm[5] and they should not be burdened by digestion while you sleep.  When you sleep, your body should be directing its efforts to repairing and regenerating itself, not breaking down food.[6]

So rather than mindlessly reaching for something to eat just because you are uncomfortable under your skin, acknowledge and respect your feelings.   Put a label on it!  If you are bored, acknowledge you are bored.  If you are stressed, tell yourself you are stressed.  Look at your emotion in the eye.  That is the only way you will control it, instead of your emotion controlling you and leading you into a downward spiral.  The sooner you confront your feelings the faster you will overcome them.

Rather than engage in the self-destructive behavior of over-eating, try to replace it with something constructive.

You are bored? Read a book, tackle something from you to-do list that never seems to get done,  help your neighbor, read the Bible.  You get my drift.   Is the chocolate cake sitting in the fridge ticking you?  — if you are a woman, paint your nails.  That will prevent you from trying to get it.

So next time you find yourself heading to the refrigerator because of your emotions, consider this:  You are not really solving a problem.  In fact you are creating an additional one.

Ask yourself this: “Am I really solving a problem or am I creating a new one?”  If you think being bored is bad, wait until you have to face the excitement of dealing with diabetes and additional health problems that resulted from your constant grazing.

About the Author

Dina Arvanitakis is an attorney that is passionate about health and wellness and is an avid reader of nutrition and how it impacts the human body.  Her desire is to share her knowledge to help people make a positive difference in their lives.


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6139832/

[2] https://functionalmedicinefortcollins.com/3-safe-over-the-counter-drugs-sabotaging-your-brain/

[3] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide#weight-loss

[4] https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156

[5] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190530141443.htm

[6] https://www.sleepadvisor.org/sleep-and-digestion/


Dina Arvanitakis
Dina is a certified functional medicine nutrition coach and author that is passionate about health and wellness. As a health advocate, she coaches clients on how to implement anti-aging techniques and weight-loss strategies and solutions so they can become their own powerful success stories. She believes that everyone can enjoy a healthy vibrant life once they are empowered with knowledge and the right tools to make effective changes in their lives. A healthy you is a FABULOUS you!