Emotional Eating

Emotional eating (sometimes called stress eating) involves using food to make yourself feel better. It is characterized by the act of eating to satisfy emotional needs, rather than to satisfy physical hunger. Food (either consciously or unconsciously) can be a source of comfort in stressful situations. Emotional eating is typically used as a way to numb negative emotions like fear, anger, boredom, loneliness or sadness.  Both major life events and the normal hassles of daily life can cause the types of negative emotions likely to trigger emotional eating. A therapist can help you understand the reasons behind your emotional eating and teach you tools to both recognize and cope with it. If you have been experiencing episodes of emotional eating, reach out to one of TherapyDen’s specialists today. 

Meet the specialists


I am a certified Body Trust Provider through the Be Nourished Institute and have experience running an intensive outpatient program to treat binge eating disorder at a local eating disorder treatment facility.

— Colleen Young, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Tacoma, WA

First of all, emotional eating is nothing bad or wrong. It is a NORMAL stress response, a normal way to celebrate occasions, a normal way to soothe ourselves, and normal way to feel pleasure. It’s a 100% natural and valid way to do these things. It works!! It is simply not the ONLY way we can go about doing these things. I help women and femmes explore their coping skills to see what works for them, and to simply add some to the list.

— Emma Doerner, Counselor in Seattle, WA

I have worked with many clients over my years in practice with issues related to emotional/disordered eating. Disordered eating is a metaphor for what is unspoken.Together we will look at the purpose the emotional eating serves for you and what is going on in your life that the eating may be expressing. By exploring the stressors in your life we can look at those underlying causes, give them a voice and help you work toward resolving them in a healthy manner.

— Joan Tibaldi, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Saint Augustine, FL

I am a "certified Intuitive Eating Pro", and have trained in Health At Every Size and Mindful Eating approaches to healing. I'm an active member of the Binge Eating Disorder Association and try to attend their conference yearly. Finally, I am co-author of "Mindful Eating Moms", forthcoming book about mindful eating while parenting. Read more here: https://mindfuleatingmoms.com/

— Jessica Foley, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Waltham, MA

Who hasn't used ice cream to deal with a break up? What better to come home to after a horrible day at work, than a steamy bowl of mac n cheese? Food should be enjoyed. We celebrate milestones with sweets and we feast at holidays. Throughout history, food and emotions have gone together. And yet there are times, especially in our culture, when managing emotions by eating gets out of hand. If you are thinking about food more often or if you want to find other ways of managing stress, let's talk.

— Kathryn Gates, Marriage & Family Therapist in Austin, TX

Emotional eating is a coping skill. You often don’t realize why you are eating. Learning mindful techniques can help you become more aware of what you are doing while helping you to discover why you are doing it.

— Michelle Stroebel, Associate Professional Clinical Counselor in Granite Falls, NC

We all need soothing and comfort. Life is stressful, even in the best of circumstances. These days, that stress can be overwhelming. But eating can only offer the distraction of pleasure (followed by the distraction of body shame or worries about health). You can learn to give yourself the exquisite comfort and soothing you really need by listening to your feelings and being gentle with yourself. As you do, the need for medicinal cookies will likely abate.

— Julie Levin, Marriage & Family Therapist in Pleasant Hill, CA

Often times if we struggle with managing our weight, we also struggle with feelings of depression, anxiety, or lower self-esteem. We often use food as a way to cope and deal with emotions that we struggle with, and we can also essentially become addicted to foods. One common method that I frequently use to help heal a relationship with food is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or CBT). This technique has a great deal of evidence behind it as being effective in healing our relationship with food.

— Danielle Wayne, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in ,

I believe that there are many ways we cope with hard emotions. For me, emotional eating has always been a struggle. I've worked hard to learn how to manage my emotions with other skills and would love to support you in your journey. Whether your desire is to lose weight or just feel healthier where you are, we can work together to develop a strategy to face your feelings with strength and compassion.

— Amanda Dutton, Licensed Professional Counselor in Gainesville, GA