A feeling is an emotional state or disposition. Your emotions are part of your consciousness which involves feeling or sensibility. They’re your natural and spontaneous responses to your circumstances, mood, or associations. Unfortunately, there needs to be a scientific consensus on one all-encompassing and consistently accurate definition of our emotions. Nevertheless, we know they exist, inform our decision-making, and can affect our circumstances by toggling our moods and feelings. That is why you always need to Recognize Your Food Emotions.

Emotions Versus Feelings

There is a slight difference between feelings and emotions. The contrast can best be described by comparing joy and happiness. Happiness is a feeling derived from a specific situation you might be in. It can occur in a vacuum or result from a collective set of circumstances. On the other hand, joy is an emotion. Joy involves a cognitive choice and is the consequence of joint events. Unlike happiness, joy does not exist in a vacuum.

Like happiness, feelings are event-driven. For example, you can have an underlying emotional sensation of joy but wake up with a migraine on the day you are supposed to start on a significant work assignment. In this situation, your emotional gauge is at joy because you do what you love for a living. In contrast but not contradiction, your feeling gauge is at pain and stress because you have a lot of work to do and a headache to push through. Can you see the dissimilarity?

How Does This Relate to Food Feelings?

On some level, all the things we do involve our emotions. A whole field focuses on regulating emotions for this exact reason. How well you manage your emotions in a high-pressure situation often affects how you respond outwardly. Given the relevant circumstances, an incorrect or overactive response can cost you considerably.

This is one area of interest to those looking to lose more than just a few pounds of extra weight. We know that our emotions and feelings affect our eating patterns. But unfortunately, emotional eating is the first place our minds tend to move toward when emotions and feelings are brought up in the same context as food, dieting, weight loss, and eating.

Thanks to a lot of focus on this area, we all know that when we say “emotional eating,” we usually refer to eating food to make ourselves feel better. This implies that all emotional eating has a basis in a depressive or negative feeling or underlying emotion our body wants to lift from. It’s well-known and documented that depressive feelings encourage us to reach for sugary snacks. For more insights on the preceding, read Kelly James-Enger’s article, Emotional Eating: Food vs. Feelings.


Like all emotional reactions, eating has a hormonal element linked to our event-driven and situational feelings. In addition, a broader and more applicable definition of “emotional eating” can be described as eating, or the desire to eat, in response to an emotional need instead of a physiological one. Sometimes, this form of eating provides a distraction, a break from boredom, or it is our body’s way of changing our mood. 

For many of us, food has a cultural component. We celebrate with food, console with food, and eat food to survive. Unlike our earlier generations, however, we’re not seeking out food to avoid death by starvation. So, many feelings will encourage us to seek food for different reasons. Therefore, emotional eating is not just about being depressed, having low self-esteem, or sadness.

Sometimes, it’s also about our situationally dependent feelings of joy, uncertainty, regret, happiness, sadness, fear, bitterness, and many others.

Any one of these feelings can ignite a desire to eat. Having a birthday cake at your friend’s party, some hot wings at the soccer or basketball party, that extra roll at Christmas, or the whole tub of ice cream after a breakup, or in celebration of some great news are all inspired by situationally dependent feelings and developed cultural practices.


You can start a journal to understand better what you’re eating, when, why, or how your eating is affected by, or associated with, your feelings. It’s straightforward. Begin with a single day’s notes. Then, on that day, every time you eat, make a note of the following.

  • The time of eating
  • Your feelings before you ate
  • Level of actual hunger from 1 to 10
  • Your eventual food choices
  • Your fullness after consuming your food on a scale of 1 to 10
  • Your feelings after you ate

You can see an example of a journal from Intermountain Healthcare.

In describing your feelings related to when you are hungry or after you have eaten, it’s okay to use words like amazed, ecstatic, disapproving, stupid, empty, exasperated, numb, afraid, lazy, doubtful, questionable, adamant, shy, free, pleased, optimistic, relaxed, amused, and others. 

Once finished, go back and revisit what you wrote. Be careful not to edit your journal as you fill it out, but review it at the end of the day. It will help you visually see what feelings and situations prompt you to eat more. This will identify your actual food feelings beyond that superficial definition of emotional eating.

Categories of My Other Research Blogs

Weight Loss Mindset

The Sugar Habit

Book Summary: Superfoods HealthStyle

Presenting Superfoods

Superfoods Benefits

Superfoods Smoothies

Healthy Diets

Keto Diets

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Jeff Moji

Hi there. I'm Jeff Moji, an engineer, information technologist, and health enthusiast. I have set up this website to explore the best ways to keep fit and healthy as I grow older during this pandemic-prone time. Please keep in touch so we can exchange information and spur one another on.

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