Emotional Eating Treatment

bulimia treatment

Emotional / comfort eating refers to any eating (over eating or undereating) that is emotional in nature rather than physiological (ie a result of hunger or fullness). Emotional eating has a psychological or emotional trigger that the sufferer may or may not be aware of.

What is Emotional Eating

Emotional eating affects a growing number of individuals in the UK. Emotional eating is driven by a psychological or emotional trigger, for example people will often eat as a result of stress or a distressing life event, rather than employing other more adaptive coping mechanisms. Emotional eating usually results in weight loss or gain, and can also leave the individual feeling out of control, guilty or anxious.

How do I know if I am emotional eating?

If you…

  • find yourself eating more as a response to anxiety, stress or distress
  • feel unable to eat when things in your life are not going well
  • experience weight loss or gain in response to life changes or significant events
  • use eating as a way of managing emotions or coping with stress
  • wish that you could have more control over your eating during times of stress

…then you are likely to be experiencing emotional eating.

What Treatments are available for Emotional Eating?

Treatment for emotional eating involves becoming more aware of the triggers to your emotional eating and learning to adopt healthier coping strategies that reduce the chances of weight loss or gain as a result of life stress. Please contact us if you would like to know more about emotional eating treatment options.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

CBT is the current leading treatment for most psychological conditions. CBT focuses on your thinking (cognitions), your behaviours (what you do in response to certain thoughts), and your emotions (how you feel in response to certain thoughts). People can often recognise patterns in their thinking that trigger eating behaviours (e.g. I am not good enough, people dont like me, I will feel better if I eat). CBT helps individuals to recognise their unhelpful or negative thinking, see the patterns in their behaviours and develop healthy strategies and skills to challenge or cope with their unhelpful thoughts. CBT is a structured skills based therapy that is most suitable for people who want to be guided by their therapist to find new ways of coping.

Supportive Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can be a useful treatment for emotional eating when an individual is emotionally eating in response to a current stressful life event. Examples may be a relationship breakdown, family transitions or general low mood / depression.

Eight Week Emotion Eating Treatment Program

Devised by the psychologists at The London Centre, this eight week program combines cognitive behavioural principles, distress tolerance skills, and psychoeducation to help people explore and address the factors behind their overeating. The goals of this treatment program are to develop a healthier relationship with food and with your body. Treatment will enable you to reduce physiological and psychological triggers to overeating as to challenge the intense self body criticism that most emotional eaters struggle with.

Your psychologist will be able to talk to you about your treatment needs and the most appropriate treatment for you during your initial assessment

Recommended Reading and Resources

Breaking free from compulsive eating by Geneen Roth

Overcoming Binge Eating by Christopher Fairburn