"Girls who eat their feelings."


| 6 Comments

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After taking this science exam, I needed to feel better somehow. Most people would go for a run, relax and watch TV, or even take a shot of some refreshing Vlad-- but for me, I decided to eat at Panda Express. I was going to drown my sorrows in some Orange Chicken, or as Mean Girls put it, "eat my feelings."

Naturally, I regret my decision to eat such garbage, but it was definitely worth it at the time. I've always wondered why a lot of people's first instinct is to eat when they're sad or when they've had a bad day. The cliché line told to girls after a break up is, "Go eat some Ben and Jerry's and you'll feel better." Bu what is ice cream going to do for a person emotionally? While it may taste good, the feeling you get while you're eating it is only temporarily satisfying. Trust me...that Panda did nothing for me-- I'm still mad about that exam.

My dinner tonight got me thinking about how some people do what I did on a regular basis, so I guess I've always wondered how common emotional eating is. Emotional eating can be defined as using food to cope with emotions even when you're not hungry.

According to Women's Health Mag, a study done in 2007 showed emotion triggered more eating than any other obstacle. The article gave the obstacle example of a buffet-style dinner-- most people are more inclined to eat more when at a buffet because the food is right in front of them.

Unbelievably enough, about 75% of overeating is due to emotional eating according to experts. Not all of it is emotional, though. Let's be real-- how many of you eat because you're actually hungry and that's the only reason? Many of us are triggered to eat when other people are around us as a social thing, or we're in a situation, like a football game, where we feel influenced to do so.

We've all done something similar to what I did earlier, but why? I'm curious-- how many of you have gotten Canyon because you were drunk and not because you were hungry? You thought, "I'm drunk...I have to get Canyon." Then you go satisfy your situational hunger, not your true hunger. How do we stop this overeating phenomenon that's going on in our country? Do you think it's out of control?

6 Comments

Sarah,
Your blog serves a good point. Some people though eat when they are happy, sad, and just because they're bored. If you take that into consideration they are eating constantly! As you stated before, many people eat because they are stressed. They want to distract themselves from the actual problem and so they turn to the one thing that can't say no; food. I fall victim to this many times, and the Ben and Jerry's ice-cream in the freezer acts as a witness to this statement. Eating is not going to solve the problem though so we all need a counter productive solution. This link below allows for other ideas that can reduce ones stress level. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm

Sara,
This is probably the most relevant blog post I've seen in a while. Your blog literally describes me to the absolute tee. I rarely eat because I'm hungry, I'm surprised people still do that. Also, I was very mad about the science test, and I would totally overeat if I wasn't poor and if there was food in my apartment. It's definitely a good idea for a post because nobody really know why we emotionally eat, and everyone does it no matter who they are. Another point to recognize is how do we actually know when we're hungry, or whether we're just stressed? With weight gain being so frequent during the college years (as well as stress), it's no surprise that overeating occurs. However, according to this article, there are sure fire ways to determine what is emotional eating from normal hunger, and how to stop it in its tracks. For example, it states that emotional eating leads to mindless eating, which basically describes when you are half-writing a comment to a blog post and half eating half a bag of chocolate cereal. And also, for the record, I have gotten drunk and craved Wings Over just for the fact that brain associates intoxication with wanting wings. That's another thing to take into consideration too - mental associations. Do we associate food with stress? Probably. Hope these tips help!

Sara!
I too felt the need to eat something delicious and unhealthy after our first class test! Sometimes I even find myself eating when I am bored. However, how did you know that you weren't actually hungry after you took the test? Sometimes telling the difference between emotional eating and actually eating because you are hungry can be tricky. I was reading WebMD and they gave some good ways to identify if you actually are emotional eating or eating because you are, in fact, hungry! One of the ways to differentiate between the two is if your hunger all of a sudden happens, it is probably emotional. However, if you find that you keep getting more and more hungry, then you are probably actually hungry for food. If you want to see the other tips, here is the link to the page that I used http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/emotional-eating-feeding-your-feelings

So, logically, it seems as though our need to eat after our first test was emotional. Hopefully as the semester goes on we become less stressed by the class tests and don't feel the need to relieve that stress with a late night trip to Are U Hungry?

This blog post could not be more relevant! I know that I've eaten for emotional reasons many times, be it when I was upset or when I was happy and felt the need to grab an ice cream. Eating has become less of a hunger mechanism and has become a social or emotional factor. Besides from those factors, theres that bored eating we all do as we sit in front of our TV or computer. It is also true that underweight individuals do not feel as much of a need to eat when they're emotional, which may not just be due to them being underweight, it could be due to their restraint that is the reason they are underweight.

Besides from sadness, it was found that anger and joy also cause increase to eat, while fear and anxiety cause a decrease in eating habits. The article all my information was found on can be found at this website: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950329313000529. Many experiments were done to see the correlation between the two and it is a very interesting topic due to the fact it happens to the best of us.

Maybe after knowing this I will become a little less conscious and have a few less trips to pick up or order food during the day.

This was such a good blog topic to write about Sarah. Personally, when I feel stressed and like there's not enough time in the day, what I want to do is have something sweet - a cookie, chocolate, baked good, cookie dough, icecream, ANYTHING. Sometimes I do go for a run or take a nap, but more often than not I find myself treating my stress with a form of snack or dessert. Something I found interesting to explore further is what exactly do we get out of it? It's not like our body releases endorphins everytime we have an m&m ... right? Does eating really make you feel better? I couldn't find any sources that directly confirmed eating would make you feel better in any way other than giving you energy and fueling your body. I did find, however, an article on stress and emotional eating by Elizabeth Scott from About.com. I learned that there is a hormone called cortisol that can create cravings for sweet and salty foods - watch out for that!

I like your post, Sara. This was actually very relevant to me when I read it today. Last night my boyfriend and I broke up, so naturally my friends told me, "Let's go to the mix, buy some potato chips and dip, and vent." I do not know if we emotionally eat because others assume it is a natural/ cultural thing or for a truly biological reason. Maybe we emotionally eat because in popculture we see people that are upset emotionally eating and from that it becomes "the norm". You almost feel like you have to emotionally eat. Here's a really great online quiz you can take to see if you are "an emotional eater"! http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/food-mood/quiz-emotional-eater/questions.aspx

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