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Why Do I Eat?

Understanding Emotional Eating


A healthy balanced diet doesn’t have to mean that you deprive yourself of all sweet or salty treats. However, many of us struggle with stress or emotional eating. This means we consume foods in response to feelings instead of hunger which can cause excessive intake of calories, and over time can lead to the development of obesity, diabetes, or heart disease.

Physical Hunger:

  • Builds gradually
  • Goes away when full
  • Strikes below the neck
  • Changes to a feeling of satisfaction after eating
  • Occurs several hours after a meal
  • Resolved by eating

Emotional Hunger:

  • Develops suddenly
  • Persists despite fullness
  • Strikes above the neck
  • Results in guilt after eating
  • Unrelated to time—could occur even if you just ate

Take Control of Your Eating

Try to consume five to six small, nutrient-dense meals per day to nourish your body every few hours while you are awake. This way of eating supports an increased metabolic rate and will help to ward off cravings and maintain proper blood sugar levels. Also focus on eating lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and whole grains.

Begin “Mindful Eating”

Here are some ways to get started:

  • Taste the food (tart, sweet, spicy, etc.)
  • Plan an eating schedule (7 a.m., 9:30 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m.)
  • Put your fork down between bites or chew your food 20 times per bite
  • Eat in one place: the kitchen table instead of the couch in front of the TV
  • Focus on eating—do nothing else
  • Slow down—aim to take at least 20 minutes to finish your meal

Lose Weight the Healthy Way

If you feel you need more assistance in making positive dietary or behavioral changes, talk with a registered dietitian and/or a counselor. Attend an upcoming Lose Weight... Find Heath seminar to learn more about options for bariatric surgery. Visit for a complete schedule.

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