Eating with our emotions

For me, August has always meant 'the end of summer' as in Finland, where I come from, we always have our summer holiday in July - I mean everyone is off for July. The whole country goes quiet as Finns disappear to the summer cottages by the sea, lakeside or deep in the woods.


For us Finns, this is the time to get out of normal routines and escape the cities. It's also a time when, as daily stress releases, people find themselves eating like there's no tomorrow. This is known as 'holiday eating' and is very normal. If it's normal, why am I talking about it then?


I believe that we should all be AWARE of why we make the choices that we do - be it a conscious choice or an unconscious one. If you know yourself enough to recognise WHEN a CHOICE is made, that's when you will also be able to feel balanced about your life as a whole.


As a Mum, I've realised that it's way too easy to push our own needs and feelings aside to care for our little gems - and this is where we often go wrong and start losing the connection with ourselves and our feelings.





Emotional eating

This is a topic that is almost always covered during my coaching sessions as it has become a normal coping mechanism to manage stress - we all do it at some points of our lives. Being aware of this - and realising that it's a CHOICE makes all the difference.


Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better or eating to fill emotional needs, rather than because you a genuinely hungry. Emotional eaters typically turn to food for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward, and most feel powerless over their food cravings.


Before I took control of my health around six years ago, eating was one of my primary emotional coping mechanisms. Whenever I felt upset, angry, lonely, stressed, exhausted or bored, my impulse was to open the fridge. I became stuck in an unhealthy cycle where my feelings and problems never actually got addressed. This of course made my IBS flare up even more.


I speak from experience when I tell you that emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but ultimately you’re left feeling guilty for messing up or angry for not having more willpower.


The key here is UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL HUNGER.


Emotional hunger is a powerful sensation, which can easily be mistaken for physical hunger.

However, by looking out for these clues you can easily learn to tell the two apart!


Emotional Hunger

Immediate desires for quick, sweet or fatty foods that provide an instant rush. You feel that you NEED a tub of ice cream or a bag of crisps and simply nothing else will do. Usually you will end up gobbling the whole lot without taking the time to be present and enjoy it.

Physical Hunger

We all experience physical hunger in different ways. Common signs are a rumbling tummy, nausea, lack of focus, headaches and more.


Either way, healthy options are typically more appealing.

  • Physical hunger comes on gradually whilst emotional hunger hits you hard and fast and demands instant gratification.

  • Emotional hunger is not satisfied once you’re full. You keep wanting more and more, often eating until you are uncomfortably overstuffed. On the other hand, physical hunger only demands you to eat until your stomach is two thirds full.

  • Emotional hunger is experienced as a craving that you can’t get out of your head rather than a physical growling in your stomach.


Try using this technique to manage your cravings, feel more in control of the choices that are present to you, every moment of every day. If you feel like you could do with some support in navigating these challenging waters, contact Taru for a FREE Discovery call.


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Founder of MamaWorksKT - Mums' CoWorking Community with flexible childcare.

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