Emotions of eating

Think before you eat

Are you letting your emotions affect your appetite?

By Erin Mortenson

Talon staff writer

It’s a Sunday afternoon, the Vikings are on and they aren’t doing so well. To help numb the pain of our team losing, you grab a bag of chips  and a pop. Little do you know, you just succumbed to what Brian Wansink, food psychologist calls “Emotional eating,” in his book, Mindless Eating.

“Everyone does it,” Wansink wrote, “Ninety percent of people don’t even know why they are eating.”

Many things affect what we eat and when we eat it. Boredom, sadness, loneliness, anger, the list goes on and on, and it’s not just emotions that influence what we eat.

“How the table is set up, the color and size of the plates, the tablecloth, the way the food is placed…they all influence how much we eat and how fast we consume the food,” Wansink wrote.

Think back on what you ate today, were you actually hungry, or were you eating because everyone else was?

Wansink conducted a survey that took place in a Chicago movie theatre. In the study, each person that purchased a ticket received a free bucket of popcorn, they could choose between medium or large sizes.

The catch? It was popped five days prior to the movie. The movie-goers knew the popcorn was stale but, since it was free they still took the popcorn.

After the movie, the customers were asked to weigh their remaining popcorn. It was found that the people who received the large buckets of popcorn ate more on average than the people with the medium sized ones. Why?

The study found out that the people ate more because everyone around them was eating, and it was just something to do. Think back, were you really hungry?

It’s not just eating when others are around that causes people to overeat. When asked about when they eat the most, senior CJ Hobbes said, “I totally eat most when I’m disappointed or tired.”

Freshman Rachel McNamara said, “When I’m bored or sad.”

Why those emotions? Why not eat when feeling happy?

The answer is simple, “it takes the mind off the pain, or the stress everyday life is causing,” Wansink wrote in his book.

Emotional eating isn’t much better for you health-wise. It can lead to an unhealthy weight and mind set. The more you overeat because of emotions, the more you are to overeat just because. The United States is obese, the reason being because we as humans are tricked into overeating when we are not hungry. Things like the way a menu looks, or the color of the food can cause people to overeat. It wouldn’t be so bad if the food we were indulging ourselves on was healthy for us, but sadly it is not.

“The majority of food people over eat on is junk food, the chips or cookies,” Wansink said.

There are ways to help cope with our emotions that don’t involve eating junk food,“either eat something healthier or find a different way to relieve the emotions you have, like sports or art,” said sophomore Sophie Law.

“By using my time to do other stuff, or even just not having food near me. If its there ready for eating, I’m more likely to eat it than if its packed away in the cupboard.” McNamara said.

If people were to go out and toss a baseball around or draw a picture or read a book or even listen to music instead of eating junk food, our country would be much healthier and obesity wouldn’t be as big of an issue. Next time you reach for that bag of chips or that last cookie, think before you eat your heart out.


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