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emotional eating

When you sit down to have a meal, are you eating because you're hungry or are you eating because you're bored, stressed or tired?

What many don't know is that food is related to feelings, or events, and is not just designed to satisfy our hunger.

Nadine Mulligan from Motivation.ie says that this “emotional eating” is one of the main reasons for weight gain.

Nadine helps individuals manage their diet and healthy eating regime in her Dublin weight-loss clinic and is adamant that by becoming aware of why we eat and taking control of the urges that drive us to seek comfort in food, we can take back control.

Here, Ms Mulligan outlines the steps to take back control from emotional eating.

Identify your triggers

You need to understand what fuels your emotional eating, and Nadine says that the five most common causes are unhappiness, anxiety, boredom, lonliness and relationship problems. 


What can I do about it?

Nadine insists that if you're an emotional eater, it doesn't mean you have to stop enjoying food. 

"We are emotional beings, but we have to separate our physical hunger from matters of the heart by finding alternative ways of expressing emotions other than through food."

"The first thing to do before taking a bite is to think about what you’re about to eat and why. Are you really hungry? Try drinking a glass of water before you eat. Thirst is often misinterpreted as hunger."


Get active

Throw that burger out and get active!

"Not only will this help keep your body in shape, it’s good for your emotions too. Studies show that people who exercise regularly have fewer food cravings than those who don’t."

This regime has worked wonders on many of Nadine's clients, and she believes if you follow these three steps, it will help you on your way to a happier and healthier life. 


Heading straight to the fridge or take away menu after a fight with your partner?

You're certainly not alone. 

A new study published in Clinical Psychological Science found that relationship stress and bickering with your other half can in fact work up a real appetite.

Researchers at the University Of Deleware and Ohio State University studied the interactions of more than 40 couples, who have been together for longer than three years. 

They filmed them eating meals together and then also kept a camera on them when the couple tried to resolve relationship issues. 

When the 'problem discussions' took place, the scientists observed how the pair communicated, their hostility levels and even subtle details like put-downs and eye rolls.

While filming took place, researchers took blood tests so they could examine hormone levels before and after the exchanges. They also examined their heights, weights, BMIs and typical diets. 

And as it turns out, couples who had a more hostile exchange saw a surge in the appetite-triggering hormone ghrelin, post-arguement. 

Results also showed that couples with the most stress in their relationship had poorer diets overall.

The conclusion of the research showed that the uncontrolled hunger some couples experience after fighting could have negative long-term health implications, such a worsened emotional eating and obesity. 


Stress eating is probably THE most counter-productive activity there is, but we still do it. Got a tight deadline to meet? The only answer is to inhale three bars of Galaxy in a row, surely. Have a giant to-do list to finish by the end of the day? Well, if anything can help it's a family-sized bag of Doritos.

Us stress eaters are a special bunch. When we're panicked or overwhelmed, that bar of Dairy Milk looks approximately 150 times more appealing than it did half an hour ago. Heck, even if there's nothing tasty in our vicinity, we'll eat something, just for the sake of it.

Here are just eight thoughts that run through every stress eater's head at least once a day….

1. "So much work to do. SOOO MUCH WORK… God I'm hungry."
Cue a bolt into the kitchen for supplies.

2. "Why is there no good food here?"
Who ate all the funsize Mars Bars? Oh, yes. It was me. I hate me right now.

3. "There must be something in this godforsaken cupboard… There has to be."
*Begins frantic search for anything containing sugar*

4. "Ooooh. Stale HobNobs. Perfection."
My body is a temple.

5. "I'll just have one… No, six. I'll just have six."

6. "Why am I still eating?"
This stopped being enjoyable around five HobNobs ago.

7. "Okay, back to the grindstone."
I'm gonna be so, so productive. Promise.

8. "Aaaagh. I forgot about all the work I have left. SO STRESSED."
Food would help this…