How to Distinguish Between Hunger and Emotional Addiction

The marker of emotional overeating is mindless eating when you don’t care what you eat or how much you eat, and then there is guilt and remorse for not controlling the process. There is a simple test for physical hunger. If you feel an overwhelming desire to eat something, ask yourself if you want an apple (buckwheat, broccoli, kefir – any healthy but not your favorite food). If you’re ready to snack this way, you can break away for lunch because you want to eat. When you feel that only an eclair will satisfy your hunger, you are probably exposed to emotions and need to work with them because food won’t help solve the problem.

Causes of compulsive overeating

The reason for the desire to eat something unhealthy becomes any situation in which it is uncomfortable:

  • Boring waiting for the solution to an important issue;
  • A quarrel with a friend;
  • Preparation for a severe event

In this case, the reasons for overeating can be both psychological and physical.

A genetic factor

Patients diagnosed with binge eating often have an increased sensitivity to dopamine, a chemical in the brain responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure. There is also evidence that the disease is inherited.


Compulsive overeating affects women more often. In the United States, 3.6% of women have experienced binge eating symptoms at some point, compared to 2% of men. This is due to both biological and social factors.

Weight problems

They can be both a consequence and a cause of an eating disorder. Most people with binge eating are obese, and physicians often find compulsive overeating symptoms in patients seeking weight loss surgery.

Body Image

Frames imposed by stereotypes, advertising, and the environment lead to an aversion to one’s features and comfort level. Constant dissatisfaction with one’s appearance, attempts to follow strict diets, excessive exercise, and feelings of guilt give rise to eating disorders.

Overeating habit

Many binge-eating patients have had overeating episodes in childhood and adolescence. Mistakes in the formation of eating habits in children often contribute to this, for example, when parents demand to finish everything on the plate. Causes can be situations when a child is rewarded with sweets for good behavior, grades, or fulfilling a request, thereby trying to control it.

Emotional trauma

Risk factors are stressful life events such as abuse, death, separation from a family member, or a car accident. It can be the consequence of peer bullying for children, often because of a genetic predisposition to obesity.

The author of this article is a therapist from the Sensera app. Sensera is a daily 10-minute self-therapy app. It’ll help you to cope with various mental problems (anxiety, self-esteem, and relationship issues). Feel better with CBT audio sessions and exercises. Download now to become happier!

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