Emotional Eating

Gaining understanding of how our eating and emotions interact

What is Emotional Eating?


People who are emotional eaters are more likely to feel out of control and stressed. They often lack self confidence and will feel worthless.

Sometimes they will use food as an instant comfort, and at times food will give the same relief or gratification of being rewarded.

Emotional eaters are likely to eat junk food, and therefore may feel guilty after using food as a temporary relief. While eating, emotional eaters may experience numbness or a dulling sensation of their emotions.

Most of these emotions are negative and food is used to alleviate pain or stress. This relief is short lived and emotional eaters will soon resume their negative thoughts and feelings.

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Symptoms checklist for emotional eating

If you agree with any of the statements below, this may indicate you are struggling with emotional eating.

  • During tough times, I am likely to eat unhealthy foods
  • I feel like I am not in control of my eating
  • When life is hard I find it difficult to keep myself motivated
  • I struggle with low self worth
  • I find life too stressful and challenging
  • I struggle with self-discipline to control my eating
  • When I overeat I often feel guilty
  • I obsess and feel overwhelmed by problems in my life
  • When I feel stressed I shut down completely
  • I notice I eat large quantities of food when I am in a bad mood

What am I experiencing with Emotional Eating?

Comfort Eating

We all have days when we’ve just had enough, our emotions are all over the place and we feel out of control. Reaching for our favourite food we can feel arousal, excitement and ultimately comfort.

Chocolate, ice cream, crisps, pizza - whatever your food of choice, you have set up a cognitive, emotional and behavioural habit pattern.

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Food Script


Our associations, beliefs and decisions around food and eating have strong links to our childhood. Your food script is the story you have created about how food will be used in your life, often based on observations and interactions with significant people in our environment growing up.

These influences and decisions from our past are no longer helpful in the present day, so our job is to help you unpick and untangle the unhelpful patterns of emotional eating that you struggle with today.

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Triggers for Emotional Eating


Triggers for your emotional eating will come from the way you interpret something that is happening in your life. It may be a situation at work, something a loved one has said to you, or a negative thought you have about yourself. This causes you to have an emotion, which swells and grows inside of you.

Depending on the way you have learnt to feel, express and deal with emotions will determine what you do next. If you bottle up the emotion inside, you may have learnt that eating food has the effect of cutting off the emotion you are feeling.

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Self Loathing & Feeling Fat


However, the period of calm you feel after eating is soon replaced with different thoughts and feelings where you tell yourself that you are weak and you feel fat. This can in itself be another trigger for you to eat again.

Everyone has the capacity to indulge in emotional eating. You may feel that it is happening too often, and you may be aware that you are putting on weight and feel that your eating is getting out of control.

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Client feedback


My life has improved immeasurably since working with WeightMatters, I have new found confidence and have worked to really understand my triggers, which has helped me change my reactions to food - Thank you so much


Sarah, 57*



Treatment for Emotional Eating at WeightMatters

We invite you to explore our services for Emotional Eating

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Many of our clients describe how they reach for food to soothe, comfort, numb or distract them from their emotions. We know that it is essential to teach you skills to start teasing apart this association with food, and help you build new ways of managing your emotions.

We can help you build a new system of regulating your emotions away from food, where you can tune in, recognise, work through and let go of your emotions in a way that is healthy for your mind and body.

Breaking down old habits, and building new ones, will allow you to change your relationship with yourself and others, and help you manage emotions in a positive way.

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