What is Emotional Eating? (Part 1)

What Is Emotional Eating?

What we’ll cover:

  • A deep-dive into what emotional eating and how it can impact us
  • Understanding the causes and drivers of emotional eating

In the ongoing cycle of our day-to-day lives, emotions (how you feel) often play a significant role in shaping our actions, and perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in our relationship with food. Emotional eating, a behaviour many of us may not even be fully aware of, involves making food choices driven more by our feelings than our physical hunger. Understanding the complex web of emotions and their impact on our food choices is an important part of your journey towards better long term health.

At Roczen, we want to help you not only achieve your goals but maintain them too. An important part of this is to understand the connections between emotions and food choices that can get in the way of your health goals. Some factors that can  lead to these unhelpful habits and behaviours include:

Comfort eating:

  • Emotional eating often involves seeking comfort in familiar and nostalgic foods that remind us of better times or moments of happiness. These foods can be like a warm hug, offering a temporary disconnect from the challenges we’re faced with.


  • Stress, an almost constant companion in our fast-paced lives, can trigger cravings for high-fat and high-sugar foods in a way to better cope. These foods trigger a rapid release of the ‘feel-good’ hormone dopamine. Sadly, this is a short-term solution and often leads to a crash and the return of further cravings - somewhat of a vicious cycle!


  • Boredom can lead us to unconscious snacking, often in the form of quick, convenient, and usually unhealthy snacks or meals that are easy to over eat. The act of eating becomes a source of entertainment or distraction rather than a response to genuine hunger.


  • Feelings of loneliness or isolation may drive us to emotionally eat as a way of coping. These foods are often chosen not for their nutritional value but for how they make us feel and the comfort they provide in the short term.


  • Celebrations and personal victories often go hand-in-hand with more indulgent food choices and if you drink it, alcohol. We might find ourselves phoning in our favourite takeaway or grabbing a tub of ice cream as a way of rewarding ourselves for accomplishments or milestones.

Unpleasant emotions:

  • Unpleasant emotions, such as sadness or frustration, may lead us to use food as a means of numbing, coping or escaping those feelings temporarily. In this way, emotional eating becomes a coping mechanism, albeit a temporary one.


  • Over time, certain emotions become linked with specific food choices due to habits. For instance, a time of day might automatically trigger us to feel cravings for a favourite snack, creating a pattern that reinforces the connection between emotions and food - can anyone else relate to the 3pm tea & biscuit to break up a stressful afternoon?

Social and cultural influences:

  • Social and cultural factors also play a role in emotional eating. Shared experiences, traditions, and societal norms can influence our food choices during emotional moments, sometimes steering us towards less-than-healthy options.

In the next part of our series on emotional eating, we explore how to start identifying patterns in your own food choices and proactively monitor them.


  • Our food choices are often influenced and determined by things beyond physical hunger, such as emotions and habitual patterns of eating.
  • Food can become a temporary escape to help cope with unpleasant emotions such as sadness, stress, loneliness, etc.
  • Emotional eating often steers us towards rewarding foods that are high in energy, and low in nutritional value.
  • High-fat, salt and sugar foods can stimulate the release of ‘feel-good’ hormones that then crash and create further cravings.
  • It's not just about what you eat; it's about understanding why you chose it in the first place!

August 31, 2023
Written by
Robbie Green
Reviewed by
Dr. Claudia Ashton

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