Obesity and Emotional Eating

Several theories have been proposed to explain emotional eating but the major theory associated with emotional eating is the Psychosomatic Theory of Obesity which contends that in times of distress, food is used as an emotional defense which, in turn, leads to obesity (Kaplan & Kaplan, 1957). It also posits that obesity results from overeating in order to deal with negative affective states, including anxiety, depression, anger, and boredom (no specific negative emotion is cited as a primary culprit). SO…we know that our thinking ( not our food) is connected to our emotions which cause stress..yet we still try to cure Obesity with food…..

Studies further state that obese persons engage in excessive eating in response to negative emotions, while normal weight persons have more adaptive coping mechanisms and do not eat in response to emotional distress (Faith et al., 1997). 

What are the coping mechanisms "normal weight" people have developed?


That is the bottom line…

change thoughts

These conclusions bear potential implications for the treatment and prevention of pediatric obesity and eating disorders because they suggest that interventions would benefit from incorporation of … stress-reduction techniques and promotion of positive mood.

So as health professionals, when we know that all the studies suggest that emotional eating and obesity is caused by emotions, stress, and our thinking, yet we try to combat it with food we are doing a huge dis-service. But by incorporating some fundamental techniques to help your clients shift stress, anxiety, emotional distress..and mostly negative thinking, you provide a life time of solutions..and not just with food!

Here is a simple method of thought restructuring….. the transformational three-step process I use to re-wire troublesome beliefs in my program:

1. Name it. What are you REALLY thinking, believing to be true? What’s running the show. Write it down. Get it out of your head.

2. Ask, “What would be different without this thought? What would I need to think / believe in it’s place?

3.  Write down all the reasons the old thought is distorted ( black and white thinking, should thinking, self blaming, minimizes or blows things out of proportion, is extreme…) Then write a new thought you will work to believe and what needs to change in order for you to believe this thought.

If you are a coach looking for more on this, join us for our Cognitive Coaching Program starting April 1!


If you are struggling in this area, check out our cognitive coaching online program available now at discount!


Let me know your thoughts on this below!  :)

Wellnessfranki durbin