Emotional Eating Vs Binge Eating

emotional eating Jun 24, 2018

Are you an emotional eater?

When does enjoying your favourite snack cross the line from comfort to worry? The difference between emotional eating and binge eating lies mainly in the amount of food you consume. But, other key features may help you compare the two and put an end to unhealthy snacking.

Emotional Eating

Stress manifests in different ways, but many of us can relate to the concept of emotional eating. Ever catch yourself wallowing in a container filled with ice cream after a particularly stressful day? Emotional eating or stress eating is when you consume food not out of hunger, but from anxiety, frustration, or sadness. For some, emotional eating is triggered by a particularly traumatic event. For others, it can just be a habitual reaction to financial or emotional stress.

But don't worry- emotional eating is somewhat normal, and in some cases, better for your mental health depending upon how you handle it.

As a matter of fact, emotional eating can be great for relieving stress with the right foods, provided it doesn't get too out of control. Eating puts our body into a state of relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Enjoying and savouring the flavours of food feels good and can lift our moods instantly.

However, when emotional eating no longer relieves but rather contributes to stress, it can get out of hand.

At some point, emotional eating gives way to self-loathing as we feel ashamed of our indulgence. We want to hide our "binging" episodes, but due to a lack of other emotional coping mechanisms, they spiral out of our control.

To prevent emotional eating from advancing to the next stage, we need to tackle the problem at its roots: stress, frustration, and other emotional ruts.

Start meditation or yoga to simultaneously tackle stress and improve your self-discipline.

Pursue a stress-free activity like painting or fishing and take plenty of time to distance yourself from whatever may be causing your stress - whether that is work, a stressful home environment, or relationship woes.


To ensure your stress eating never borders on binge eating, keep a food journal. Records of your day-to-day eating choices will help prevent you from putting on unwanted weight and improve your overall mindfulness when it comes to eating.

I have written extensively about using a food journal and it's benefits here.  

And finally, to manage your emotional eating in a much more healthier way, look for healthy alternatives to your favourite go-to snacks like oven baked sweet potato fries instead of the regular deep fried kind or carrot sticks and hummus instead of crisps.

Binge Eating

Binge eating, unlike stress eating, is considered by nutritionists as a potentially severe eating disorder. Characterized by constant overconsumption, BED (Binge Eating Disorder) involves eating huge quantities of food in a relatively short span of time. It's not just your average bloated belly after a heavy dinner, but constant overeating that leaves the body uncomfortable and unhealthy.

The transition from emotional eating to binge eating occurs when you lose your sense of control: you move from being conscious of your reason for eating and how much you eat, to eating without any control over what goes in.

It often leads to guilty eating, which is worse for your mental health and stress levels. This leads to a vicious cycle: your stress turns into binge eating, and your binge eating fuels your stress.

What's worse is that the guilt of binge eating (which usually occurs when alone) traps us in a "shame cage"- we don't want to connect to friends or family for fear of revealing ourselves.

But BED is too serious of a condition to keep under wraps. Instead, it is vital to talk to someone if you are experiencing any one of its symptoms.

Your attitude towards your body image, your history with other mental health complications, and eating habits, in general, could be contributing to BED.

Total recovery from binge eating is absolutely possible. It doesn't need to take over your life.

To start your healing process I encourage you to keep a food journal to track your habits to work out the emotional triggers that affect your binge eating and the thoughts and feelings you have while on a binge episode.

This gives you amazing insights into the WHY of your situation to ensure that you can easily manage the HOW of getting out of it.

Read this article below and download your free food and Mood Diary


Remember to remain body-positive. I am always here to talk if you need to. You can take advantage of the 30-minute feel amazing call if you feel you need some 1:1 guidance. It's my way of giving back-- I've been on the emotional eating path and having someone to lean on is the only way forward.


Book Your Free Feel Amazing Call Here

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