Why We Run To Emotional Eating For Comfort – A Quick Look At Our History


Emotional eating took its toll on everybody at some point or another. Literally everybody regardless whether they admit it or realize it or not.

Even way before we became sophisticated and “smart”, when we were little toddlers and kids, we have feasted on many things that we didn’t know we really needed. It’s almost impossible to fathom one child who didn’t crave ice cream or one toddler who didn’t reach for milk, when they weren’t “really” hungry.

We only grew up and our taste and standards changed. We were introduced to more complicated dining habits and varieties. We were introduced to coffee and alcohol, which for the vast majority of people characterized our stomaches “personality”. We simply reach out to coffee to wake up and to alcohol to cool down.

Many of us were even introduced to their favorite cuisines and comfort food later on in life when they were way older. My favorite cuisine by far is Japanese. It wasn’t till I was 20 that I tasted my first sushi and miso soup.

So why have we developed this emotional eating habit where we run for food and beverage to express our happiness, sadness or stress? if this food wasn’t “injected” in our DNA or pushed down our throats as toddlers?

A Quick Look at The History of Emotional Eating

Science and fossils suggest that we have been living on earth for right over 200 thousand years, believe it or not it’s obvious that we have been around for thousands of years whether you agree with the six digit or not. 

For thousands of years our human experience has been limited to things like temperature, smell, taste etc. Extreme luxuries like politics, economics, unions, social networking and arts haven’t been really a top priority to the average peasant, until these things started to determine whether one can find food.

With tasty food being almost the only pleasure to share socially for homosapiens, emotional eating started to take part of our social presence. You reached out to your neighbor or tribe to taste that delicious wildebeest you just hunted, in hope they are going to do the same in the future. Even if you’re not hungry, you are going to join in celebration and excitement. This might have been the early stage of emotional eating.


If It Was Fun At First, Why Did It Get Ugly?

Food has always meant money to people. Even when we invented money, it was just a peaceful way of buying food. We knew that we are happy and successful when we had enough food to self-indulge. Matter of fact, food was always linked to success for the vast majority of our time on earth.

Now, what would you do when you feel down? You want to show yourself that you are worthy, successful and strong. Food is the answer, it has always been.

Today, with corporate and modern life stress attacking us left, right and center; we seriously have this authentic and true need to run for some affirmation and entertainment. What is more affirming and entertaining than couch food in front of TV? Welcome to the future.

There are surely other ways we have found along the way that could give us some comfort, like music, art and internet; but for sure those things were not around nearly long as food has been.  Absolutely no competition. Hands down. 

Even funny enough, we have attached food and beverage to those new comfort tools. Popcorn and art, drinks and concerts always go hand in hand.

Author: Tarek Kenawee

A former tennis player turned emotional eater best known for having lost a whopping 30% of his bodyweight, gained it all back and lost it all again in a year. The journey has taught Tarek much about what our bodies are telling us about food, and even more, what our minds are. From there, fighting for the freedom of others from stress eating has become his passion.

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