New Study Reveals Most Common Emotional Eating Triggers

Feelings of shame, fear, and boredom can hurl emotional eaters into a spiraling junk food binge.

If you want to break a cycle of emotional eating, you need get to the root of what’s eating you up inside.

Boredom is, at most, a mildly annoying emotional state, but having nothing to do on a lazy Saturday afternoon could be a gateway to more problematic behaviors. It comes down to a simple Freudian principle: We are motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain. This is the reason why many people reach for comfort food to deal with negative emotions, like the clichéd container of ice cream after getting dumped. Recent research conducted by PsychTests reveals nine factors that can trigger emotional eating.

Analyzing personality, emotional, and behavioral data from 438 emotional eaters who took the Emotional Eating Test, researchers at PsychTests were able to establish the most common eating triggers:


For some emotional eaters, food may provide the comfort that they yearn to receive from a partner, friend or family. Moreover, even if they have a large support network, some emotional eaters feel lonely quite often. The desire to seek comfort from food fulfills a need – albeit temporarily – for intimacy.


If an emotional eater has committed a transgression in the past, they will continue to blame and punish themselves, even if they have been forgiven. Emotional eaters dwell on regrets and relentlessly focus on their disappointments, failures, and what they don’t like about themselves and their life.


Emotional eaters struggle to muster up the fortitude and motivation to face a daunting task. They don’t believe they have the skills to achieve what they desire and are more likely to give up on a difficult goal. They’d rather quit than risk failure. These feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, and disappointment can compel emotional eaters to seek food for comfort.


Emotional eaters have high expectations about what they believe their body should look like – and because they haven’t achieved this ideal, they punish themselves. They are also terrified of being rejected. Emotional eaters who fear judgment will often hide food so that others won’t see…

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