Only within the last decade has the idea of emotional eating being a contributing factor to obesity been considered.

And this is largely because emotions in general have been ignored for centuries. We've had far more training in how to ignore emotions or pretend that we don't feel them than we have in how to deal with emotions. Yet, it's emotions that end marriages and start wars.

Several decades ago, Theodore Isaac Rubin MD, psychiatrist, wrote the Angry Book. Although it is primarily about anger, the mechanisms revealed in the book can be applied to any emotion.

In the book he highlights how we have each learned to "seal ourselves off" from anger. Fact is, we've learned to "seal ourselves off" from many emotions. Case in point:
Have you ever had anyone tell you how to feel anger?
Have you ever had anyone tell you how to feel frustration?

The same question could be asked for boredom, depression, confusion, uncertainty...
Let's not ignore emotions such as happiness, joy, and excitement--no one has taught us how to feel these feelings either.

In fact we've been more often coached in avoiding these feelings because:
Our blood pressure will go up.
They are useless feelings.
No one will want to be around us.
We'll be setting ourselves up for the big let down.
You should know what you want...

Where does food enter in this challenge to feel emotion? Avoidance mechanisms of emotions include habits such as smoking, drugs, alcohol, and food. However, food is very easy, relatively inexpensive, and acceptable to the general population and has had a learned association from an early age.

When you cried as a baby, you weren't given a cigarette to smoke or a beer to drink; you were given food to calm you down.

When you can home from an embarrassing problem at school you weren't given drugs to shoot up with; you were given cookies and milk to calm down.

The association with food and emotions has been ingrained in each of us since we were infants. Since we were never given a training in how to deal with emotions, it's little wonder that we eat in response to many emotions. The end result is that we use food to dilute feelings. Food is the drug of choice for millions of Americans. Food is readily available with hundreds of thousands of purveyors providing us a multitude of tastes to please our palates.

And the irony is that rather than focusing on how to embrace feelings--getting at the root of the problem--the focus is on diets and techniques to lose weight. Emotional eating is rarely entertained as the root cause.

An effective 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