Emotional Eating is Not Just About Negative Feelings
Not many of us make the connection between eating and our feelings. However, understanding what drives emotional eating can help people take steps to change it. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly, and physical hunger occurs gradually. Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly with the food you crave. For me, ice cream is first on the comfort food list. Comfort food choices vary across both sexes.
Women tend to eat a lot of sweets, and men tend to eat foods like pizza, steak, and casserole. One of the biggest myths about emotional eating is that it's prompted by negative feelings. Sometimes emotional eating is tied to major life events, like a death or a divorce. More often, though, it's the countless little daily stresses that cause someone to seek comfort, or distraction, in food.
Emotional eating patterns are learned. A child who is given candy after a big achievement may grow up using candy as a reward for a job well done. A kid who is given cookies as a way to stop crying may learn to link cookies with comfort. Both eating, and thinking about eating, work as distractions from uncomfortable feelings.