Emotional Eating

56568550Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the refrigerator looking for something to eat when you weren’t hungry? Are there times when you’ve had a snack, even though you knew you weren’t hungry and you struggled not to eat because you knew that you’d feel guilty afterward? What made you eat even though you knew you shouldn’t? Most likely it was emotional eating: eating in response to unpleasant emotional arousal, or occasionally, eating to make a pleasant emotional state even better.

The most obvious effect of emotional eating is weight gain, but there are other hidden consequences of emotional eating. Typically emotional eating undermines psychological well-being. The dieter, who has an unnecessary snack, usually feels guilty and discouraged afterwards. In addition to guilt, emotional eaters can become depressed, and may withdraw from others, and become secretive because of the shame they feel about their eating.

The first step in overcoming emotional eating is to become aware of your eating patterns. Some people are anxious eaters, others lose their appetite when they are anxious but eat more when they are depressed. Often times, individuals who struggle with eating have a hard time asking for help, remind yourself in order to move on and engage in healthy eating patterns, this is necessary.

Use resources to help you, such as a doctor, dietitian, or counselor.

Suggested books:

  • Intuitive Eating, Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch
  • Eat, Drink, and Be Mindful, Susan Albers
  • 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, Susan Albers


About Colleen Hanson

Colleen graduated from Mount Mary College with a Masters of Science in Community Counseling. She enjoys working with adolescents and adults utilizing a cognitive behavioral approach to therapy. She enjoys helping her patients develop achievable treatment goals and strategies to cope with their life struggles. Her areas of interest include: Eating Disorders, Depression, Self-Harm, Anxiety, and Stress Management. Colleen also enjoys facilitating an Eating Disorders Support Group.

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