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Campus Recreation > Fitness & Wellness > Wellness > Articles

Healthy Snacking and Emotional Eating

by Steph Hill (B. S. Public Health, '14)

Have you ever been tired, sad or nervous and felt the urge to eat as a result? That’s because food does more than just fill our stomachs; it also satisfies feelings. Eating to comfort yourself (not to satisfy hunger) is often referred to as emotional eating. Swapping emotional eating for healthy snacking throughout the day can help you lose fat, maintain a consistent energy level, and improve your mental and physical clarity.

Benefits of Healthy Snacking:

  1. Decreases cravings
  2. More overall energy
  3. Increases and improves digestion
  4. Less likely to overeat/binge at mealtime

Smart Snacking Habits:

  1. Plan your snacks out in advance
  2. Remember portion control while snacking
  3. Design your snack to contain protein, some carbohydrates, and good fat
  4. In addition, snacks high in fiber will help to keep your full for longer

Healthy Snack Ideas:

  1. A small/medium apple with 2 teaspoons of peanut or other nut butter
  2. Dip your favorite veggies into 2 tablespoons of hummus
  3. Spread 1 tablespoon of lite cream cheese into one large celery stalk

How to determine the difference between physical hunger and emotional eating:

  1. Emotional eating generally comes on suddenly, where physical hunger occurs gradually
  2. Emotional eating used to fill a void is often associated with cravings for one specific food item, while physical hunger is open to more options
  3. Even if you are full, you are more likely to keep eating with emotional eating. With physical hunger, you are more likely to stop eating when you are full
  4. Emotional eating often leaves behind feelings of guilt, where physical hunger does not.