Causes of emotional overeating are always traced back to childhood--maybe even to our genetic map. Just as with baby turtles, fish, snakes... they instinctively know what to do and where to go to survive.

Whatever the souce of the progromming, humans instinctively have the drive to survive and humans can take it one step further, they also have the drive for pleasure seeking. And just as all animals, humans are instinctively curious. Put all this together and it's natural that food fills in all the blanks.

Babies cry when they are hungry and or frustrated. And what do mommies do to quiet the crying baby? They use the bottle. Baby eats the peas and what is the reward? Tasty food.

As toddlers the programming continues. Toddler has a rough day in preschool and comes home crying. What does mommy do? That's right, a snack of cookies and milk--the universal soother. Then there are the holidays, birthdays, and special occassions such as weddings, anniversaries... There are lots and lots of happy occassions with relatives, presents, and of course there's wall-to-wall food.

Where does the emotional eating come in to this equation? It's obvious that with all the survival situations there is frustration, anger, upset, depression... and with all the special occassions there's joy, happiness, excitement... Food gets associated with a wide range of emotion. Little wonder that even the emotion of boredom gets associated with food as well.

It's not to say that all overeating is emotional, certainly some or much of it is habitual in nature as well. Habitual eating is the association of being at a certain place or time with food. For instance, passing by the Bagel shop on the way to work everyday and stopping for a bagel with cream cheese. Or, it's coming home in the afternoon, walking through the front door, into the kitchen and opening the refrigerator.

Awareness techniques such as calorie counting, changing route to work, or schedule after work, diets, eating slowly, putting the fork down between bites... are best used to defeat habitual eating. However, they don't work to conquer emotional eating.

Emotional eating can not be conquered by ignoring the emotion. Instead, it's important to embrace the emotion which in itself is a huge challenge. Why? It's simply because we have had much more training and experience in denying emotions than in dealing with them.

For decades it's been practically a sin to admit that one was angry. Anger is a bad feeling and emotions such as frustration or boredom indicate that you are not in control of your life. And forget about depression--you'd be acussed of being mentally ill.

By learning to embrace emotion and move through emotion rather than avoid emotion, one learns to leave food out of the equation.

A progressive approach to eliminate emotional eating involves asking important questions "What is missing here? Why are you not getting the results you've been promised?" It is clearly insane to keep dieting when the results are so poor. It's more important to gain a grasp on how to stop emotional eating--eating emotional stress than it is to read the scale. Besides focusing on the scale doesn't empower you to be a better more enlightened person, whereas learning how to overcome emotional eating empowers you in all aspects of your life. If you're a sales person, you'll be a better sales person. If you're an assembly line worker, you'll be a better assembly line worker; a mother, a better mother... Overall, you'll build self worth and find that what you really want to eat is far more nutritious and less in quantity than you ever before imagined possible.

Author's Bio: 

Richard Kuhns B.S.Ch.E., NGH certified, a prominent figure in the field of hypnosis with his best selling hypnosis and stress management cds at and His aim is to make it possible for anyone to manage emotional binge eating. For more information please visit