Health News Articles

Are You an Emotional Eater? Princeton House Offers Programs to Help

Dec 13, 2013

Do you ever find yourself eating not because you’re feeling hungry but because you’re feeling happy or sad? Or have you found yourself skipping a meal because of these emotions?

While occasionally eating for comfort is no cause for concern, regularly using food to soothe your emotions could be a sign of a more serious problem known as emotional eating.

Emotional eating could point to an underlying mood problem, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. If not properly addressed, emotional eating may also lead to a dangerous eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.

Emotional eating is when a person uses food to regulate any intense emotion—positive or negative. It often happens because a person lacks the skills needed to manage emotions in other, more positive ways.

Signs of an Eating Problem
Emotional eating is considered part of the spectrum of eating disorders, the most serious of which are binge eating, anorexia and bulimia. The early warning signs are similar to other eating disorders, including:

  • Changes in eating patterns, such as eating a lot more or a lot less than usual.
  • Unusual eating behaviors, such as picking at food, cutting it into small pieces or refusing to eat around other people.
  • A pre-occupation with food, including reading labels or thinking about food so much that it impacts your daily life.
  • Out-of-control feelings about food, such as intense cravings or guilt or shame related to eating.

Coping with Emotional Eating
Putting a stop to emotional eating involves finding alternative ways to cope with emotional highs and lows. For people with mild problems, emotional eating can often be improved by working on “mindful” eating— focusing on what you’re eating and why you’re eating it.

For those who need more intensive therapy or whose emotional eating is related to a mood disorder, the Women’s Program of Princeton House Behavioral Health offers a new 8- to 10-week Emotional Eating Track, an intensive program that helps women overcomeemotional eating habits. It includes:

  • A complete nutritional assessment. 
  • Therapies aimed at improving impulse control and stress tolerance 
  • Lessons on engaging in more self-care and in making time for more pleasure and leisure activities.  
  • A comprehensive discharge and follow-up plan in conjunction with a therapist, nutritionist and psychiatrist.  
For more information about the Women's Program at Princeton House Behavioral Health or to schedule an appointment, call 1.888.437.1610.