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What's Your Mind Got to Do With Eating?

Are you really hungry? Feed your body, not your emotional hunger.
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How to Tell When You Are Emotionally Hungry

Emotional hunger comes on fast. You want to eat now! You may feel desperate to get something to eat. There are more signs of emotional hunger. These are other ways you may feel.

  • You crave or want to eat something very specific.
  • You eat more than you normally would because you can't tell when to stop.
  • You feel guilty when you finish eating.
  • Eating didn't get rid of your bad mood. You have the same feelings even after you eat.

What to Do About Emotional Hunger

To eat smart, you have to think about what you're going through with your body and with your brain. The good news is that there are ways to control your emotional hunger. You have to think of other things you can do to feel better. And then you need to practice doing them.

For example, here are feelings you may have and how to fix them in a healthy way.

  • Bored? Try taking the dog for a walk or putting on some music and dancing.
  • Feeling sad or lonely? Talk to a friend, parent, or another grown-up you trust.
  • School stressing you out? Make a list of the things you need to get done. Put them in order of how important they are. Or talk with someone about it and make a plan. You can take steps to feel better.

When you're anxious -- about school or your friends or family -- get rid of the stress. Burn some energy by running or being active. Or try something else that can relax you -- like reading a book or taking a shower or bath. And learn relaxation techniques like breathing exercises to make you forget about your anxiety.

It may take you a few times to remember to bust stress by being active or doing other healthy things to relax instead of eating just because you're stressed. You may feel uncomfortable when you first choose not to eat due to emotional hunger. Just remember that is normal but it will get better. Keep practicing. First ask yourself: What do I feel? Then ask yourself: What do I need to feel better? When you think about that, the answer won't always be that you need something to eat.