It’s happened to all of us: One minute you’re on the couch the next minute you’re in the pantry looking for a snack when you realize… I’m not even hungry! Here is what to do when you realize you’re nut hungry but want to eat.

not hungry but want to eat

Why We Eat When We Aren’t Hungry

There are so many reasons why we might eat when we aren’t actually hungry, but one of the most common is emotional eating. We find ourselves using food to cope with stress, anxiety, boredom, or even happiness and joy!

What To Do When You’re Not Hungry But Want To Eat

I like to use something I call the “emotional eating algorithm” when working with the girlfriends in my membership program. Here is an overview of what it is:

not hungry but want to eat emotional eating algorithm

Basically, it’s a way to help you identify what is actual hunger VS what is more so that emotional or boredom hunger. Now, it’s important to note that living with no food rules is NOT the hunger and fullness diet. No sir! It’s OKAY to eat when you’re not hungry! I talk a little bit more about this in my post on practical hunger (another type of hunger!) So, if you’re wanting to hear more about that, be sure to give that post a read.

You just want to be mindful of eating when you’re not hungry and prevent eating on autopilot and the next thing ya know, you’re stuffed! Doesn’t feel super good.

How To Assess When You’re Not Hungry But Want To Eat

Here is how to use the “algorithm”. Sounds scary, but it’s totally not. I almost feel silly calling it that because, I mean, let’s be real… eating should NOT take this much effort! But, due to diet culture, sadly it does… at first! Once you start to get the hang of the process you’ll start to do it automatically. It’s pretty fab. Okay, here are the steps:

  1. Assess if you feel hunger. If so, eat! If not, go to the next step.
  2. Assess what you’re feeling. Are you anxious, stressed, nervous, frustrated, super happy?!
  3. What can you do to handle that emotion? You could take a walk, do some journaling, take a few deep breaths, or call a friend to chat!
  4. Do whatever you decide on for about 10ish minutes, then re-assess. Do you still want to eat?
  5. If so, do it mindfully without guilt! Enjoy! (I have a post on mindful eating exercises here!)
  6. If not, keep going with your coping mechanism and repeat!

Now, this is just one tool that I recommend using to help you understand when and what to eat. Some days we just hop right into a box of cookies to help with stress and that’s okay! Ya might not feel ideal- or, hey, maybe you do- after but don’t beat yourself up. If you do find that you ate emotionally, past fullness and maybe aren’t feeling great don’t worry. I have a post all on what to do after overeating. Give that a read and Pin it to your Pinterest board for later!

not hungry but want to eat

Leave a comment with your thoughts on this emotional eating algorithm and what emotion you find yourself eating for most! For me, it’s totally stress and boredom!

Happy eating & food rule breaking!



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