Emotional Eating: Why It Happens and How To Treat It
By: Margo Davis, MSSA, LISW-S • Posted on January 20, 2022
What does the term “emotional eating” mean to you? Do you ever feel so overwhelmed that you reach for ice cream to feel better? Have you ever gone through a drive thru just because you are having a bad day and deserve a “treat”? Do these scenarios seem foreign to you, or are you like many people who connect with the idea of “eating your feelings”?
What is Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating can be a coping mechanism for intense feelings, including stress, anger and sadness. Emotional eating allows one to be distracted and/or escape from those emotions – even if it's just for a brief moment. Emotional eating tends to lead to overeating and choosing unhealthy foods. This can lead to obesity and depression if left unchecked.
Why are you emotional eating?
If you feel you may be emotionally eating, it is important to find the cause. Studies have found that emotional eating can be due to various reasons, including but not limited to the following:
- Difficulty managing emotions
- Restrictive diet when trying to lose weight
- Lack of awareness of personal emotions
- Chronic stress
- Family history of depression
- Lack of education regarding healthy eating as a child
Treatment for emotional eating
If you find yourself relating to the idea of emotional eating, the best form of treatment is learning to address your emotions in other (healthier) ways and having a balanced lifestyle. The most successful outcomes usually happen when you have medical support and guidance. For adults who emotionally eat, it is important that the treatment be individualized and managed by both a mental health professional and a medical provider. Getting individualized care will help you learn specific skills to better manage your emotional and physical well-being.
At the Cleveland Clinic Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine Department, we have a team in place that are ready to help you on your emotional eating journey. Our team is made up of medical doctors, holistic psycho-therapists, nutritionists and other professionals that are here to support you. This journey can seem scary, but by reaching out you are taking the first step towards having a healthier life! To start the process, please call 216-448-4325 to schedule an appointment.
Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!
-Margo Davis, MSSA, LISW-S
CCF Holistic Psycho-therapist
- Frayn, M., Livshits, S., & Knäuper, B. (2018). Emotional eating and weight regulation: A qualitative study of compensatory behaviors and concerns. Journal of Eating Disorders, 6(1).
- van Strien, T. (2018). Causes of emotional eating and matched treatment of obesity. Current Diabetes Reports, 18(6).
Margo Davis, MSSA, LISW-S
Margo Davis is a Licensed Independent Social Worker with Supervisory Designation. She graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor Degree in Social Work and Case Western Reserve University with a Master of Science in Social Administration degree. Margo has worked with a wide variety of populations and has significant experience with people in crisis. Margo provides talk therapy for all ages with all mental health concerns - with specific training in anxiety, depression and mood disorders.
Margo utilizes various therapeutic techniques with her clients, but really focuses on the individual person to provide client centered therapy. Margo recognizes how difficult it can be to reach out for help and uses that strength to continue to empower clients towards their goals. While Margo brings a warmth to the therapeutic setting, she also works to stay up to date with evidence-based interventions to ensure all clients are getting the best care possible!
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