Emotions: Are You Eating Them?

Emotional eating- what is it? If you eat for reasons other than hunger, it is certainly a cue. But emotional eating is more than that. It is sometimes known as stress eating because stress will trigger your eating, though happiness, sadness, anger and other emotions also trigger your eating.

Emotional eating is an unhealthy relationship with food. Instead of using food for its real purpose-survival- you misconstrue it into something else- as a way to meet your emotional needs. Over time, emotional eating changes from eating in response to emotions to massively overeating in response to emotions as the food is not satisfying your emotional needs. You may find yourself eating something and thinking it will eliminate that ‘feeling’ and when it doesn’t you return to the fridge or cupboard, looking for the right food to make that ‘feeling’ go away.  Or, that ‘feeling’ goes away for a few minutes, but then it either returns, or you beat yourself up for eating too much, eating junk food, etc. This cycle may lead to binge eating. Whether it does or not, emotional eating is not healthy and may lead to body image issues or low self esteem.

Emotional eating is not the same as an eating disorder such as anorexia and bulimia. How do you know if you are an emotional eater? Here are 12 signs:

  1. You eat when you are stressed; especially late at night or when you are alone.
  2. You eat as a response to your emotions; you automatically reach for food when you feel sad, annoyed, disappointed, angry, lonely, empty, anxious, tired, bored.
  3. You seek solace in food. When you are down, you eat comfort food, often this is junk food with no nutritional value.
  4. You have trouble losing weight. In spite of knowing how to lose weight, you keep reaching for food and can’t seem to stop yourself.
  5. Your eating is out of control. You eat when you are not hungry or might even go out of your way to get food that you are craving, knowing that you are not really hungry.
  6. You eat to feel happy. You rely on food to have positive feelings.
  7. You eat when you feel happy. It’s a celebration that you are having happy feelings.
  8. You are fascinated with food. Even when you are not hungry, you are thinking about food.
  9. You use emotion-laden words to describe food- ‘sinful’, ‘enticing’, ‘indulgent’, ‘guilt-ridden.’
  10. You eat even though you are full, no matter how much you have eaten, you don’t feel quite satisfied.
  11. You think of eating even when you are full. Even though you have eaten and are full, you are thinking about the next meal and how satisfied you will be when you eat next.
  12. You have random food cravings out of the blue. You have urges to eat specific food, even when you aren’t hungry.
You can change your relationship with food and a diet mentality is not the way. Schedule an appointment with me to learn tools to break free from emotional eating. Get started today!


Love yourself, you deserve it!
Tina Gray-Siebers, MS, LPC, CCATP