Emotional hunger: What is it and how to control it?

Emotional hunger is a type of anxiety that makes us eat, not because we are hungry, but because of personal problems that we do not know how to manage.

When we mention the term 'emotional hunger' we refer to the state in which you eat without actually being hungry. It is a type of eating disorder that is related to emotional conflicts and emotions that, when we do not know how to resolve them, alter our natural state.

Emotional hunger is characterised by the fact a person who suffers from it feels a great need to eat, a need that appears impulsively and uncontrollably, even when they are not hungry, in order to satisfy something. And that 'something' is nothing more than an emotional conflict that is not being adequately resolved.

Characteristics of emotional hunger

Impulsive eating

This type of emotional hunger is characterised by the fact that the origin of this need is unknown, but cannot be controlled. This causes the act of eating to be impulsive and uncontrolled.


It is very common that, after a hunger attack, people feel guilty because they still do not feel good or satisfied. This is because the source of their problem has not been solved with food.

Eating to feel better

There is an undercurrent to this behaviour that seeks a feeling of improvement and well-being from eating. However, because it is not resolved, it is common for the person to feel sad and disappointed after the binge.

How to control emotional hunger?

As we have seen, emotional hunger does not appear due to a biological or natural circumstance but is the response to another internal deficiency. This lack is usually related to emotional reasons such as anxiety, depression, boredom, sadness, etcetera.

Therefore, if you want to solve this problem, the first thing to do is to seek professional help. It will be essential to attack the root of the problem and find out what is really bothering you.

In addition to this, here are some tips that will help you to control emotional hunger.

Meal planning

It is important that your mind knows that you are well-fed and, which will help avoid that urge to eat out of compulsion. We recommend that you have a weekly schedule so that you know exactly what you are going to eat and at what time, and thus control hunger attacks.

Eat satiating foods

To avoid the sensation of hunger, we recommend that you include in your diet foods that satiate your appetite, such as fruit and vegetables. In addition, if you opt for healthy food when you feel the uncontrollable urge to eat, your health will not suffer.

Avoid sugar

Emotional hunger is closely related to the consumption and abuse of sugary foods and processed sweets. Therefore, we recommend that you avoid having these ingredients in your home and, instead, opt for healthier versions such as yoghurts, fruit, etc.

Do sport

Physical exercise is a highly recommended habit to reduce anxiety and live in a more optimistic and positive way. This can help you regulate your emotional problems and thus reduce these hunger attacks.

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