What is  Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is the consumption of food as a response to feelings and emotions (even boredom!) rather than as a response to your body’s hunger cues. It usually involves fun foods such as chocolate, ice cream, chips, and pastries, but not necessarily.

What is  Emotional Eating?

In and of itself, there is absolutely nothing wrong with emotional eating. Food is actually inherently emotional: culturally it is used as a means of connection and celebration, with nourishment being only one of the reasons we eat.  

Why Does It Happen?

Eating food activates the reward system in the brain via dopamine receptors. This is actually a good thing and one of the things that have kept us alive as a species! Imagine a caveman having to find, hunt, prepare, cook, and eat his meals every day. If eating wasn’t pleasurable and “worth it”, we would have given up long ago. 


Being hungry can set you up for emotional eating when even a minor feeling comes up. Needing food brings down the threshold of tolerating emotions.


A baseline negative emotional state can also be a risk factor for using food as a way to cope. Stressors can be day-to-day triggers like being in a new environment or the hustle of classes. They can also be even event-specific triggers such as exams or big assignments and projects.

Lack Of Sleep

Not getting enough sleep or being tired can have a significant impact on your ability to cope with emotions. Chronic sleep deprivation can have an even bigger effect, triggering emotional eating quicker.


Other than being physically and biologically hungry, restricting certain food groups or having food rules can also set you up for a quick fall into the emotional eating trap. Restrictions wire our brains to want the restricted items more causing us to think about them more often and actively seek them out.