Are You Suffering from Emotional Eating Disorder?

by Rakib Sarwar, RPh on January 7, 2020

Emotional eating disorder continues to present a significant medical-related challenge to diverse individuals. The more society experiences high levels of increased economic, social, and political pressures, the more individuals may revert to eating orders. Emotional eating disorders present serious sickness and receive critical attention from health specialists. The illness presents more than just a person who cannot stop eating. The phenomenon comprises a significant eating disorder associated with mental health problems. 

The illness aligns with people who struggle with difficult psychological and mental stresses. As a result, the treatment of an emotional eating disorder becomes a challenge, especially with increasingly more individuals who suffer from it. The article below attempts to describe the meaning of emotional eating disorders, related symptoms, associated emotions, and methods to address the problem. 

Providing support to emotional eating disorder individuals requires diverse inputs from an academic, social, or a scientific point of view. The emotional status of such an individual requires specific guidance besides weight-management supervision. 

What is an emotional eating disorder?

Emotional eating disorder pertains to individuals who overeat or become addicted to food. These individuals attempt to deal with stress by continuously eating. Food types included in the eating process relates to high calorie, low nutrition, and characterized by significant levels of carbohydrate contents (1).

People who struggle with emotional eating disorders carry significant pain, low self-esteem, and complex emotional elements. Individuals who struggle with eating disorders started for emotional reasons. As a result, they require mental and physical support to become better. The sickness started exploding with society becoming more complex with added lifestyle stresses. 

Research by medical experts

Emotional eating disorders impact a diverse population and gender groups. The illness affects every race, identity, and culture. Because of a significant lack of understanding, sickness impacts significantly on the diagnoses and treatment of the illness. Emotional eating disorders shorten the life expectancy of many people because of non-treatment. The associated stigma aligned with the sickness prevented many people from searching for proper medical help (3). 

Researchers continuously attempt to identify methods of emotional eating disorder sickness treatments. A serious worry developed with health practitioners regarding the cures one can prescribe. Normal dietary programs may present unsuitable cures to treat patients who struggle with emotional eating illnesses (5). 

Researchers found that individuals who struggle with eating disorders require additional support than just dietary guidance. During many circumstances, people who struggle with severe emotional eating sicknesses comprise low-self-esteem levels.

Researchers identified diverse causes that result in these eating problems. Some of the causes include a family history of mood disorders, alcohol abuse, family backgrounds related to depression, biological traces of eating disturbances, and problematic personalities. Emotional eating challenges align with different internal and external influences. 

Because of the wide variety of potential impacts on a person’s emotional or physical system, treatment requires specialized health input. It became clear that individuals who struggle with obesity and eating disorders present a complex illness scenario. It becomes easier to treat individuals who struggle with one of the two sicknesses. Researchers especially struggle to agree with the relationship between medical need for weight-loss and psychological treatment (5).

What are emotional eating disorder symptoms?

Emotional eating disorder symptoms include a range of characteristics, including the following (3): 

  • The individual prevents from following specific scheduled planned mealtimes. Constant eating during all times of the day, prevent the person from taking control of their eating habits. It results in overeating and a chronic feeling of shame. 
  • A person continues to consume large quantities of food without having the ability to stop. The behavior seems out of control and sometimes leads to additional illnesses.
  •  Individuals attempt to hide food in their cupboards. People who struggle with emotional eating disorders feel ashamed. They pretend and look fine, but they not.
  • People eat small meals in front of visitors, but binge eats when alone. Individuals pretend that they are healthy and eat nourishing meal portions. The moment they alone, they overeat. It increases their levels of emotional insecurity.
  •  Even if the individual feels full, they continue to eat. If a person’s stomach cannot take anymore, they keep on consuming food and become nauseous. It allows for additional feelings of shame and unworthy emotions.
  • People may look healthy on the outside, but they’re actually emotionally sick. Mentally these individuals need help. In their minds, they struggle to cope with life.
  • The psychological effect of emotional eating disorders takes time to show. It can take a while for symptoms to appear, and individuals hide away from receiving treatments.
  • Diverse causes exist that lead to emotional eating disorders. During many circumstances, the biological background plays a role. Genetics, DNA, and family background play a significant position in the biological and health status of these individuals.
  • Family circumstances sometimes impact on the individual’s health status, but external matters may also apply. External and internal influences by family or work incidents can cause emotional eating disorders. 
  • Using high carbohydrates calms the individual’s nature and overall mood status. People who struggle from emotional eating disorders attempt to feel better by eating.
  • Eating disorder impacts on family structure. Emotional eating disorders impact on families health. It can cause severe conflict and behavior issues.

What are the emotions associated with eating disorders?

Diverse emotions affiliated with eating orders influences an individual’s health status and wellbeing. Some emotional traces people need to deal with if diagnosed with eating disorders relate to the following (2):

  • High-stress levels
  • Continuously feeling embarrassed about their eating patterns
  • Carrying emotions of depression and guilt
  • Reaching levels of desperateness

What are the outcomes of emotional eating disorder? 

Emotional eating disorders result in people becoming extensively overweight or obese. Emotional eating disorders especially start during the latter teen or early adolescent years. Eating disorders significantly influence young individuals who struggle with diverse emotional illnesses. The outcome of emotional eating disorders results in young generations increasingly becoming fatter and need to deal with associated sicknesses. Increasingly, young people struggle with eating disorders that cause added health challenges, for example, diabetes (4). 

Emotional eating disorders present high levels of obesity. Subsequently, a person can suffer from a stroke, diverse heart diseases, diabetes, or cancer. Mental health challenges occur more with women than men, although both genders experience impacts because of the illness. The key challenge related to the cause of emotional eating disorders correlates with weight discrimination experiences at work. 

Individuals who struggle with emotional eating disorders continuously over-criticize themselves and subsequently revert to binge eating practices. The ongoing expectancy of people to lose weight and present a socially acceptable outlook commenced to increase eating disorders (5). 

The impacts of obesity on individuals who suffer from eating disorders increasingly experience emotional stresses. Obese people continue to suffer from health and mental disorders (5).

People who struggle with emotional eating disorders display a character of shyness, relationship challenges, submissiveness, and increased sensitivity (6). Children brought up by a mother who struggles with emotional eating disorders can negatively impact their social infrastructure. These children display traces of fear, social instability, and shyness. These emotions and social fears impact again on their families and relationships. Subsequently, it affects their social ranking, communication, and relation to the outside world. 

During many times, emotional eating disorders start because people feel unwanted, scared, and unworthy. Eating disorders appear because of an unhappy emotional status and diverse inner self issues. 

How do we stop emotional eating disorders?

The treatment of emotional eating disorders takes on many forms and is continuously investigated by health specialists. Here are some treatments of how to fight emotional eating disorders (5):


  • Cognitive behavior therapy 


The treatment focuses on an individual’s cognitions that impact their emotional and behavioral status. Cognitions play a role during their execution of judgments, networks, and interactions with other people. Treatments of a people’s cognitive behavior allow for help during many emotional circumstances, for example, eating disorders (7)


  • Behavioral weight loss treatments


Behavioral weight-loss treatments allow for a group session approach. The aim of these treatments permits individuals to attend bi-weekly weight-management programs. Individuals who attend these classes can initially lose up to 10kg or 10% of their weight. 

Weight-loss normally reaches some improvement after 6 months of continuous therapies. The program comprises weight-loss and behavior treatments. In addition, long-term emotional support forms part of the process to assist with weight management challenges. Scientific interventions allow for a longer-term outcome than community-based only approaches. Additional academic orientated support may allow for longer-term results than the original traditional support provided (8).

  • Bodyweight and eating treatments 

These treatments provide support to individuals to start with healthy balanced eating. The difference in these treatments relates to providing support to dietary requirements and emotional status. An individual who needs to deal with pain requires emotional and physical support. Initially, the process allows the individual to open up and explain why they started with binge eating. Gradually after identification of the cause, the rest of the problem surfaces (8)


  • Low energy eating dietary support and nutrition guidance


Low energy dietary support attempts to make a person feel full over a longer time. The program attempts to keep individuals satisfied with the use of low energy food groups, for example, high-protein meals. 

Treatments allow for combined efforts between psychologists, dieticians, medical doctors, and nutrition specialists. ‌ ‌Complex eating disorder gains diverse and specialized help from many discipline types. An individual who struggles with emotional eating disorders needs support from their family, health practitioner, and closest network. The emotional contents of eating disorder sickness need significantly more help than a diet plan or motivational speeches. 

The person who needs support, require daily help to guide them throughout the treatment process. Treatment involves a mixture of physical and psychological interactions that present a tiring procedure. It becomes important for such an individual to emotionally accept and admit they comprise a health problem. 

Emotionally, the person needs support. Most individuals who struggle with eating disorders already suffer from low self-esteem. Here they think lower of themselves because they assume the wrong things. These individuals must know that emotional eating disorders form part of normal illnesses. All individuals on planet earth can become sick. The stigma aligned with eating disorders impacts the treatment of the illness significantly. Subsequently, these individuals require additional sensitive emotional care. They need to believe in themselves that already may decrease their need to commit to overeating. 

Individuals need to understand the difference between an eating disorder and weight loss treatments. Different approaches relate to these treatments (5). Normal weight loss treatments normally exclude specific health mental support. In this case, emotional and psychological guidance form part of the process.  


Emotional eating disorders present a much higher complexity than people think. The treatment of emotional eating disorders forms part of continuous scientific research. As a result, doctors, nutrition specialists, and dieticians struggle to agree on the treatments. People who comprise the illness mostly present family history traces of eating disorders. Internal and external factors cause emotional eating disturbances. As a result, it becomes difficult to care for only part of the illness. 

Low self-esteem, over-criticizing, binge eating, and depression create such an illness. The stigma that relates to emotional eating disorder impacts patients’lives and their families. It becomes important to provide psychological support to them and their families. Sickness complexity requires guidance from diverse medical specialists.  

During many times, the origin of emotional eating disorders starts during the early teen years. If identified early, it allows for quick preventative treatment. Early support provided during the emotional adolescent years may prevent eating disorders. Emotional eating disorder sickness continuous to form part of serious mental and emotional issues. 

Intense academic and scientific research requires intense focus to align with an increasing experience of the illness. The health sector needs to align with people’s experiences to allow for a better understanding of the illness. People who struggle with emotional eating disorder sickness must contribute more to the understanding of their emotions and challenges. The health sector may gain additional insight into the causes of emotional eating disorders.


  3. Schaumberg K et al., 2017, The Science Behind the Academy for Eating Disorders Nine Truths About Eating Disorders, Eur Eat Disord Rev, Vol. 25 (6), pp 432 – 450. 10.1002/erv.2553
  4. Ludwig D S., 2007, Childhood Obesity – The Shape of Things to Come, New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 357 (23),pp. 2325 – 2327.
  5. Da Luz F. Q. et al., 2018, Obesity with Comorbid Eating Disorders: Associated Health Risks and Treatment Approaches, Nutrients, 10 (7):829, pp. 1 -9.
  6. Cardi V. et al., 2018, Premorbid and Illness-related Social Difficulties in Eating Disorders: An Overview of the Literature and Treatment Developments, Current Neuropharmacology, Vol. 16, pp. 1122-1130.
  7. González-Prendes A.A. and Resko S.M., Accessed 2012, Cognitive Behaviour Theory, University of Washington, pp. 14-35.
  8. Butryn M.L. et al., 2011, Behavioral Treatment of Obesity, Psychiatr Clin North Am., Vol. 34 (4), pp. 841 – 859. 10.1016/j.psc.2011.08.006

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