There are other ways to mend your heart than just with food. Here’s how you can get through an emotionally draining day to conquer ‘heart hunger’.


We’ve all been there. Turning to food after a long day, a break up, feeling lonely…the list goes on. Sometimes it’s just easier to shut out the world with a warm chocolate chip cookie and a blanket.

This is ‘heart hunger’, something that we have all experienced and are entitled to a day of it once in awhile.

Unpleasant emotions are a part of life, and the problem arises when we turn to food to numb the pain of these emotions. When this happens, our heart hunger usually leads to mindless eating and the guilt that follows.

With heart hunger, you may not have a specific food craving — you simply start thinking about eating as a response to the surge of emotion you just experienced. As you search your cupboards or the refrigerator, you’re unsure of what sounds good at the moment. You just know you want “something.”

So how do you keep heart hunger from becoming problematic?

First, become aware when you are craving something sweet or whatever your comfort food may be. Ask yourself, “What’s making me feel empty right now? What am I missing or needing in my life?”  If a difficult situation has left you tired, discouraged, or depressed, then you’ve identified a ‘heart hunger’ event that’s about to occur.

Before you reach for the first bite of comfort food, ask yourself, “Will eating change what’s empty or missing in my life?” Of course, eating does make things better sometimes, at least for a while. But in reality, food won’t fix a hungry heart. Your real life is still there, filled with the same emptiness as before.

Now that you’ve identified heart hunger, fill your mind by doing something you enjoy. Here are 5 ideas to help you overcome heart hunger:

1. Get outdoors.

Plant flowers, dig in your vegetable garden, go for a hike or do other activities that involve nature

2. Light candles.

Create a healing and relaxing environment by using candles.  Take deep breaths and meditate while focusing on being in the present.

3. Journal about your feelings.

Writing out your thoughts can help you work out what you’re experiencing and as an outlet for all of the negative emotions that are pent up inside.

4. Call a family member or friend.

Knowing that you have a community of support will help you remember your life is indeed full.

5. Take a walk or practice yoga.

Light physical activity can help improve your mood and reduce stress.

Adapted from the original article.

Marissa Campanella, RDN, LDN is a private practice Registered Dietitian based in Scranton, PA helping people find the balance between healthy and happy.  As a ‘food peace promoter’, Marissa specializes in helping those with food struggles and disordered eating in learning how to enjoy food while leaving guilt and self criticisms behind. Connect with Marissa at Thrive Nutrition.