Many people use emotional eating to cope with boredom, stress or sadness. Food cravings often hit when a person is experiencing negative emotions. They may use food to provide comfort in the midst of stress and negative emotional states.

Emotional eating may be a sign of an eating disorder. In spite of this, it does not always mean that a person has an eating disorder if they engage in emotional eating. Binge eating disorder treatment can help a person with an eating disorder gain control over emotional eating. There are a variety of treatment options available at binge eating treatment centers to help a person achieve emotional and nutritional balance. 

What Is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating refers to eating in a specific manner or eating certain foods that help soothe negative emotions, such as loneliness, sadness or fear. Stress can affect eating habits. Some people eat less when they are upset. Other people eat more when stressed. Although emotional eating can sabotage a person’s health and lifestyle goals, it does not necessarily indicate the person has an eating disorder. Emotional eating can occur with certain eating disorders. For example, research has found people with binge eating disorder are more likely to have a binge eating episode after experiencing negative emotions. However, in order to be diagnosed with an eating disorder, signs and symptoms other than emotional eating also must be present.

When Does Emotional Eating Cross The Line Into An Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder is a serious mental disorder that involves eating large amounts of food in a short period of time. The person feels out of control and unable to stop eating during the binge episodes. Binge-eating episodes are often preceded by negative emotions or events. Emotional eating does not necessarily mean a person has a binge eating disorder. However, emotional eating combined with the following symptoms could be a sign of a binge eating disorder.

● Frequent (an average of twice weekly) binge eating episodes, during which much larger amounts of food are eaten
● Eating large amounts of food when not hungry
● Eating much more quickly than normal during binge eating episodes
● Eating to the point it is uncomfortable or physically painful
● A feeling of loss of control during binge eating episode
● Eating alone during binge eating episodes
● Feeling disgusted, ashamed or embarrassed during or after binge eating episodes
● Feelings of shame or embarrassment surrounding binge eating episodes

What Are The Treatments For Binge-Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder treatment centers offer multifaceted treatment to address both the emotional and physical aspects of an eating disorder. Components of binge eating disorder treatment may include:

Psychiatric assessment and care: During binge eating disorder treatment, the person will have a psychiatric assessment and meet with a psychiatrist to address his or her medical needs.
Treatment of co-occurring disorders: Many emotional disorders, such as depression and anxiety, occur concurrently with the eating disorder. Treatment for co-occurring disorders addresses both the eating disorder and the co-occurring mental disorder at the same time. Addressing both disorders increases the likelihood the person will become fully recovered from their eating disorder.
Nutritional restoration and therapy: Nutritional restoration is created by the nutrition team, and provides the individual a nutrition plan to meet his or her needs. Sessions with a registered dietitian can help the person learn and practice using balanced meal planning approaches to nutrition.
Individual psychotherapy sessions: Binge eating disorder therapy helps address the emotional aspects of binge eating disorder. The person may learn to identify thoughts and emotions that contribute to binge eating episodes. They also are taught more adaptive ways to cope with negative emotional states.

Binge eating disorder recovery is possible. Binge eating disorder treatment can help reduce emotional eating, improve self-esteem and make it easier for a person to achieve a balanced approach to nutrition and wellness.