Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Emotional Eating

Emotional Eating

Overview

What is emotional eating?

Emotional eating means that you eat for reasons other than hunger. You may eat because you're sad, depressed, stressed, or lonely. Or you may use food as a reward. Food can be soothing and distract you from what's really bothering you.

If you eat for emotional reasons, you may not notice when your body is hungry or full. You may eat more than you need or want.

Emotional eating can interfere with making healthy food choices. And it can keep you from getting to a healthy weight and staying there.

What are the signs of emotional eating?

Everyone eats for reasons other than hunger once in a while. But if you notice that you often reach for food out of boredom or for comfort, you may be eating for emotional reasons. Big life events, like losing a job, can cause emotions that lead you to eat more. So can small hassles like being late for work.

Common signs of emotional eating are:

  • Changing your eating habits when you have more stress in your life.
  • Eating when you aren't hungry or when you're full.
  • Eating to avoid dealing with a stressful situation.
  • Eating to soothe your feelings.
  • Using food as a reward. (For example, "That was really a tough job/assignment/argument. I need some ice cream/candy/popcorn!")

What are some tips for avoiding emotional eating?

Having a plan can help you deal with your emotions without using food. It's about you and what works best for you. Here are a few things you can try.

  • Keep a food journal.

    This can help you find out what triggers your emotional eating. You write down when and what you eat. You also write down what you were doing and feeling before you started eating.

  • Use a hunger scale.

    A hunger scale can help you tell the difference between true hunger and hunger that's just in your head (psychological hunger). When you start feeling like you want something to eat, rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10. The number 1 means you're really hungry. And 10 means you're so full you feel sick. A rating of 5 or 6 means you're comfortable. You're neither too hungry nor too full.

  • Change your response to triggers.

    Plan what you'll do when you notice your emotional eating triggers. Maybe instead of reaching for food, you could call a friend, take a walk, or drink a glass of water. Then you could observe how you feel.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Related Links

Weight Management: Stop Negative Thoughts Healthy Eating: Recognizing Your Hunger Signals Weight Management Stop Negative Thoughts: Getting Started Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Eating

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details