Emotional eating causes obesity

Emotional Eating

Do you eat when you are hungry or are you a comfort eater? Did you know one of the main reasons people “comfort eat” is due to stress and anxiety. In Australia 63% of people are either overweight or obese and of these 83% are emotional eaters. Those are frightening statistics because obesity raises your risk of a range off debilitating lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Everyday we are faced with a multitude of food related decisions and of those decisions less than 10% are made consciously.

Are you awareness of your food habits?

Food makes us feel good

Food provides comfort by releasing chemicals in the body that make us feel good. For instance many carbohydrates release dopamine and serotonin, both of which provide us with a nice feeling and lift mood and attention. Our brain have  contain pleasure-seeking circuits of neurons on the lookout for any smell, sight, memory of food. Junk food manufacturers load their tempting products with an optimum mixture of sugar, salt, and fat. This maximises their addictiveness and the release of dopamine.

Dopamine rewards

Once we start eating these neurons reward us with dopamine. And when you overeat, dopamine reward you by releasing more dopamine elevating our feelings of pleasure and euphoria.

When you overeat, dopamine rewards you with a feeling of pleasure and euphoria. But the next day this will have dissipated.

Obesity and emotional eating

  • A majority of American adults are overweight or obese
  • Australians continue to get fatter – 63% are now overweight or obese (53% of females and 71% of males) [2]
  • 25% of children are overweight or obese
  • The message to Eat less and exercise more has lost traction
  • Over 85 per cent of those struggling with their weight, eat for comfort [3]

Why do we emotionally eat?

  • Stress (27%)
  • Boredom
  • Loneliness
  • Fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Habit (34%)
  • Social pressure
  • Large serving sizes
  • Dehydration
  • Some medications
  • Hormone fluctuations

Top three tips to help you eat  when you are hungry

  1. Pause before you eat, notice if you are feeling stress, emotional or just plain bored
  2. Are you really Peckish?
  3. If not, Probe your reason for wanting to eat. In other words, dig deep and find your triggers

I am indebted to Lisa West for her suggestion that to ask, “Why am I eating?” If this is a question you would like help to explore I suggest you contact Lisa West here

Another great resource is an article by Glenn Livingston entitled  Stop binge eating

If you feel stressed, follow these tips instead of eating [1]

  • Meditate
  • Take exercise
  • Share your concerns with family and friends

If you would like to take the next step with Harry Armytage, complete the listening scorecard here

To find out more about what Sally Estlin does, head here



Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash