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Emotional Eating

There’s no denying that for most of us, food is tied up with feelings—whether it’s a fond memory conjured up by a family recipe, or looking forward to a sweet reward after a hard day. But when a person relies on food for emotional comfort, it can become a problem affecting both mental and physical health.

Emotional eating tends to be under-reported, so there are not a lot of statistics about its prevalence. Emotional eating is sometimes referred to as night-eating syndrome—a disorder the National Institute of Mental Health estimates affects about 1.5% of men and women—but the behavior can happen at any time of day. Emotional eating may be linked to a natural release of hormones during eating that elevates our mood, signaling a person to seek out more and more of those good feelings associated with consuming food.

Signs and symptoms

Emotional eating is characterized by these behaviors:

Desire to eat, even when you’re not physically hungry
Eating out of boredom or emotional numbness
Eating in response to stress or difficult emotions
Choosing foods with low nutritional value specifically when eating for emotional reasons


Emotional eating is different from Binge Eating Disorderwhich is characterized by more intense eating and consuming larger quantities of food.

How Crosswinds can help

Crosswinds provides a safe environment to discuss patterns of emotional eating behaviors. Our therapeutic services, including in-home counseling, help address emotional eating with strategies that change patterns of thought and behavior about food. Through techniques like mindful eating, clients learn to be more present when eating, to avoid over-eating and making unhealthy food choices. We also work with clients to develop their coping skills, so they can replace the use of food for comfort with other, healthier behaviors. Crosswinds therapy also focuses on accountability, helping clients feel responsible and empowered for the food choices they make. Our approach is designed to help feed the spirit, to fuel a happy, healthy life free from the burdens of emotional eating.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with emotional eating, Crosswinds is here to help. Please contact us today.
Get Help

To learn more about emotional eating, please visit:

Mayo Clinic, Weight loss and emotional eating
WebMD, Emotional eating
MedicineNet, Emotional eating