How ‘Junk Emotions’ Could Be Worse For You Than Junk Food


photo: Lovely Pepa


If you’re trying to be healthy it seems like a no-brainer to cut down junk food. Cutting out the chocolate, chips, and soda is the first step to getting the results you want. But it’s not always easy, that’s why we rely on food journals and apps that track our calorie intake. To remind us to choose nutritional foods over delicious but bad-for-you foods.

Now, psychologists think that we should treat emotions the same way as we treat food. There are some emotions that are bad for us, that are akin to junk food.

Psychologists Dr. Shoba Sreenivasan and Dr. Linda E Weinberger want us to use similar words when we’re thinking about our ’emotional nutrition’ too. In their book Psychological Nutrition, they argue that it’s time to keep an emotion journal just like you would a food journal, and to spend time making sure you’ve got your daily limit of healthy emotions like happiness. 

“Psychological nutritional labels are a method for you to assess the emotional content of your experiences. Whether you are psychologically nourished or malnourished is contingent upon the ‘food’ you put into your psyche. That food is your feelings– how you react, how you interpret, how you view the world. The food that you consume; that is, the products, come in these two broad packages: relationships and events.”

They argue that with food you choose the packages and the junk food that appeals to you, in life you choose to subject yourself to negative relationships and emotions sometimes because of obligations, other times because of bad choices. So it’s as simple as going on an emotion diet, and ensuring you aren’t relying on relationships that produce unhealthy emotions like jealousy and anger.

Here’s how to start your emotion detox in just a few steps:

1. Keep your emotion journal 

It’s important to keep a journal of your ’emotion diet’ and find out how many ‘junk emotions’ you’re consuming in a day. Junk emotions are anger, envy, jealousy and frustration. Too many of these emotions in one day can make you feel stressed and lead to a burnout. If you counter these emotions with optimism, love, happiness and patience you should have a healthy balance.

2. See relationships as products 

Your relationships count towards your emotional nutrition too. Think about examining a carton in a store, the packaging lures you but it might be full of sugar and fats and be very low in nutritional value. Think of relationships the same way. What emotions does this person contribute to your life? Mainly negative ones? Or positive ones. This is a great way to figure out who is worth keeping in your life.

3. Make labels for people

Of course, there are people and situations you can’t just cut out. But if you take some time to figure out who is more likely to bring ‘junk emotions’ into your life, you’ll be prepared before entering a situation, and can schedule something that will balance it out. For example, a call from a friend who always dumps their problems onto you can be balanced out by a coffee date with the most positive person you know. Problem solved!

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Managing Editor

Beth is the Managing Editor of CGD. She is a graduate of the Penguin Writer's Academy, has published a short story and loves to read creative writing manuals in her spare time.

  • Nicki George

    Wow this is so awesome, and honestly a really good way to look at things. Definitely gives me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing this!

    Nicole |

  • Shannon at Our Crunchy Family

    I completely agree that junk emotions are just as bad for us as junk food. A thought I had while reading this is when we din’t feel good, doctors are constantly telling us to drink more water. Staying hydrated can make me feel worlds better. I think if I start looking at people this way, I could feel emotionally hydrated. If I surround myself with people who fill my emotional water cup, maybe I wouldn’t feel emotionally drained.

    Thank you for Sharing!

    Shannon B.

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