The kinds of food you crave can give you clues as to what's going on internally
When you eat, are you truly hungry for food? While the main function of eating is to provide fuel and sustenance for survival, eating is also an inherently emotional act. Nourishment is one the earliest experiences of receiving love and affection in a person's life. Food continues to be a focal point throughout our most cherished celebrations in life, including birthdays, weddings, holidays, and anniversaries. Food energizes the body by boosting blood sugar levels, while also providing you with a sense of comfort and ease as your nutritional needs are met. It's normal to eat emotionally a few times a year, as a form of celebration or an expression of joy. However, emotional eating becomes problematic when you become dependent on food as a frequent source of comfort. Emotional eating is always a sign of low digestive fire (agni) in Ayurveda.
Step 1: Be Curious
If you find yourself seeking food whenever you feel distressed or uneasy, gently bring awareness to your habits. Begin by noticing the difference between true belly hunger and emotional hunger. Investigate how you are feeling each time you reach for a snack. Is your stomach growling? Does it feel empty indicating true hunger? Or are you simply looking for a way to ease your current state of distress?
If you do not feel truly hungry, think about some other ways you can meet your emotional needs and regain your sense of calm, without turning to food. A stroll around your local park, calling a friend, or a short self-massage (abhyanga) will help redirect your focus away from emotional food choices. Also, be curious about the source of your emotional upset. Is it a looming work deadline making you feel under pressure? Did you have an argument with a family member last week that's still bothering you? Taking the time to reflect on and deal with emotional concerns can greatly reduce your desire to eat emotionally as you are getting to the root of the issue.
Step 2: Find the Type of Foods You are Craving
Examining your cravings, specifically the kinds of food you crave, can give an indication into what's going on internally. It can also serve as a good guide to help you uncover the roots of your emotional eating pattern. Think about the qualities of the foods you tend to indulge in when emotionally eating: is eating sugar an attempt to feel sweeter or more energized? Are you drawn to crunchy or spicy foods to give you a pick-me-up when you're feeling down or depressed? Do you reach for chocolate when you want more passion, or nuts when you need grounding?
Step 3: Redirect
"Food nourishes the body; love nourishes the soul"
When you are feeling guilt ridden or ashamed because of emotional eating, it's important to remember that emotional eating is an adaptive strategy. In most cases, your body may be trying to calm itself down through the soothing medicine of food. Your body is doing the best it can to help you, which at the core is a very good, nurturing impulse. Instead of getting angry with yourself for eating emotionally, search for healthier ways to express yourself and your feelings. Exercising, journaling, or talking to a friend are all good strategies that actually help you address your emotions instead of masking them with food.
Food is supposed to energize you. Refined wheat and sugar, some of the most common foods people turn to when eating emotionally, do just the opposite. Given the dramatic side effects these foods have on the blood, they are often the cause of the very same emotions you are trying to medicate with food. If you are tired due to stress and adrenal fatigue, a sugar rush will alleviate your symptoms briefly, only to make you crash 15 minutes later. While comfort food may provide you with some relief in the short term, these ingredients keep you stuck in a cycle of emotional eating.
Step 4: Eat Slowly
If you do decide to eat something for an emotional reason such as anger, sadness, upset, celebration, or joy, it is better to take the time to recognize and honor that you are eating for emotional reasons than to do so unconsciously. Try and take your time when you are eating. Enjoy the food that is providing you with comfort and support, instead of rushing through it as quickly as possible. Eating these foods at a rapid pace will likely lead to digestive discomfort like gas and bloating, as your stomach struggles to breakdown chunks of improperly chewed food. As mentioned previously, it is normal to enjoy food for comfort once in a while, but slowing down and savoring your meal will prevent mindless eating.
Follow This 7 Step Plan
If find yourself eating emotionally on a regular basis, it can start to feel like you will never be able to overcome this pattern. There are, however, many Ayurvedic tools you can use for support as you make positive change. Follow this easy 7 Step Plan to Stop Food Cravings & Overeating, whenever you have an unruly craving. Take note of which steps work best for you, and implement whenever you feel the need to eat for emotional reasons.
Understanding emotional eating is tricky business. On the one hand, it really does make you feel better in the moment. That piece of gooey chocolate cake or second serving of creamy pasta seem to dissolve your stress, fear, and uncertainty, at least for a while. But don't be fooled by these short term gains. In the long run, indulging in these sugar spiking foods as a coping mechanism will keep you stuck in a cycle of emotional eating, and leave you feeling worse than you did to being with.
Overcoming emotional eating can be a lengthy process, so be kind and patient with yourself throughout. Simply waking up one day and saying to yourself, "That's it, I am done with this eating behavior," generally has little to no impact. Instead, treat each time you eat emotionally as a learning experience. Ask yourself, what triggered you to eat emotionally? What foods did you go for, and why do you think you chose them? What could you do differently next time? Leave the guilt aside and begin to implement the steps above for lasting freedom from emotional eating.
Augment your diet with these specially chosen ingredients below which may be useful for 'Emotional eating'.
Individual results vary depending the cause of your imbalance and by constitution.
Please research the ingredients below to find which are most helpful for you, and check with your doctor before making any changes to your health and wellness routine.
DISCLAIMER: The pathogenesis of each person's condition is unique, and so the diet must be fit to the individual and the unique root causes of the condition in your body.
The information on this page is for educational purposes only and should not be used to treat a medical condition. It is not a substitute for medical care.
Please check with your doctor before making any changes to your health and wellness routine.
WHAT IMBALANCES CAN IT CAUSE?
AGGRAVATES THESE DOSHAS & BIOCHARACTERISTICS
'Emotional eating' is likely to aggravate the following doshas and biocharacteristics. If you have a systemic imbalance of one of these doshas or biocharacteristics,
Ayurveda would generally recommend removing, substitute or lessen the frequency of 'Emotional eating'.
Improper food and lifestyle causes balances to accumulate.
Ayurveda shows you exactly which doshas and biocharacteristics are likely to accumulate in your body.
Once these doshas and biocharacteristics accumulate too much, they will begin to cause imbalance.
You can reduce an imbalanced dosha or biocharacteristic by removing things that aggravate it
from your diet and lifestyle.
FAVOR DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS WITH THESE MEDICINAL EFFECTS
Everything you eat has an effect on your body, which Ayurveda categorizes in a simple and easy way, using biocharacteristics (gunas).
Biocharacteristics are qualities (like cold and hot) that describe the effect a food or herb has on your body.
Cooling foods like cucumber, decrease metabolism.
Heating foods like chili pepper, stimulate your body and increase metabolism.
For 'Emotional eating', you should select foods with the following biocharacteristics.
Individual results will vary, based on your body type and the root cause of your imbalance.
FOODS TO FAVOR
CONDITION IN YOUR BODY
ABOUT DIFFICULT BIOCHARACTERISTIC
Difficult refers to anything that is difficult to digest, or takes a long time to digest.
EMOTIONAL EATING IS IN STAGE OF DISEASE 0 - POTENTIAL CAUSE
Potential causes increase and disturb your imbalanced doshas and biocharacteristics,
causing them to accumulate and spiral out of control.
For example, if you're overheated and eat a chili pepper, heat may become excessive and cause disease.
As a dosha or biocharacteristic accumulates in your body according to your dietary and lifestyle habits,
it is more and more likely to cause disease.
You can reduce an imbalanced dosha or biocharacteristic in two ways, by removing, or lessening the frequency of aggravating causes from your diet and lifestyle,
as well as by favoring balancing diet and lifestyle practices.
For example, try eating something as cool as a cucumber when you're overheated, instead of a chili pepper.
REDUCE THESE RELATED SYMPTOMS & HABITS
The following symptoms & habits may be related to 'Emotional eating'.
See your quiz results for a computerized assessment of your body type.
Please click on the symptoms below to learn more about them.
Biocharacteristics of the 20,626 People Reporting Emotional eating
On average the biocharacteristics
of people reporting Emotional eating were less aggravated than 77% of other symptoms.
From the 20,626 people who reported Emotional eating in this research study of 74,671 individuals,
average deviation in biocharacteristic levels were the following:
Ayurveda strengthens the body, in addition to addressing the disorder. It take a holistic,
systemic approach, instead of focusing only on the disorder in question. Ayurveda
shows a person how to interpret signs and symptoms of imbalance, and how to address them
using materials from home, so they can optimize their health on a continual basis. You can't
take the doctor home with you, but you can take Ayurveda home with you.
Ayurveda is the most advanced and easy to use home system for self healing with an
exceptional focus on digestion.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA WORK?
Ayurveda starts by identifying your body type,
which identifies certain tendencies in your body to get sick (as well as identifying your strengths).
It uses body type to determine the likely root causes of your disorders.
Next, Ayurveda analyzes the nature of your disorder.
It fits all your signs and symptoms into a pattern, expressed as a combination of biocharaceristics (gunas).
For example, you may have a heat disorder, a cold disorder, or an oily disorder, etc.
This simple categorical approach shows you how to correct systemic imbalances and strengthen your body as a whole.
On Joyful Belly, we've created an extensive categorization of food so you can easily match food to your imbalanced biocharacteristics.
By eating an optimal diet that balances your biocharacteristics, your whole body is strengthened
and the conditions that created the disorder are removed. Once the root causes of the disease
are removed, the disease lessens in strength or disappears altogether. Additional remedies -
such as herbs and lifestyle practices - focused on the specific disorder, can greatly enhance
To get started on your Ayurvedic journey, we first recommend that your find your body
type by taking our free quiz. In Ayurveda, every solution is based on your unique body type, so
by taking this quiz, you’ll get the best results.
John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a
healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda.
His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful.
John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda
, which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition.
John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia.
John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion.
John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing.
In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots,
and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church.
Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick.
That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.