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Eating Due to Envy or Jealousy

In their words or tone, I often hear clients express envy and jealousy which may trigger
unwanted eating. They may not realize that this is what they’re experiencing, but these emotions are worth exploring to learn about yourself and end non-hunger eating.

Envy means “bearing a grudge toward someone due to coveting what that person has or enjoys” or “the longing for something someone else has without any ill will intended toward that person.” Envy involves two parties—you yearn for the promotion your co-worker received or the house your best friend just bought. You don’t necessarily dislike people for having or obtaining these things, but might wish you were them.

Jealousy means being “apprehensive or vengeful out of fear of being replaced by someone else.” It is an emotion tinged with fear, especially of losing something or someone you love. Jealousy involves three parties and makes you feel less than and insecure. You may feel jealous that your best friend has gone cross country with a mutual friend or that your partner or spouse is flirting with your neighbor. In feeling jealous, you are afraid someone is taking something from you, of losing attachment or positive feelings from another person, or of being replaced.

“You can feel envy about something you don't have but want, but you feel jealousy over something you already have but are afraid of losing.” (information retrieved at and at

Which is the more common feeling for you: wanting something you lack that someone else has or fearing that someone will take something that is yours? Or do you often experience both emotions? Whichever you feel, can you see how these feelings speak to not feeling confident, trusting, secure or adequate? Can you see connections to your childhood in which you didn’t feel you had enough of something (or of anything) or when you feared that someone would take whatever you did have away from you? Childhood is where these emotions began, then memory of them gets triggered in the present.

What can you say to yourself now when you are envious or jealous to reduce their intensity and soothe yourself? How can you know that you have enough and are enough and that your perceived losses need not distress and will not destroy you? How can you recognize and soothe these feelings, and not turn to food?