Emotional Eating Is An Adaptive Behavior

NOTE: I’m sorry that I have not posted to this blog in the past couple of months. We have been busy creating new products and services that will help people transform their lives, including an on-line course to teach people how to eliminate beliefs on their own.

I intend to post information about this topic here on a regular basis that you will find useful. Please let me know what type of information you would find helpful.

A young woman lying on her couch eating chocolateSomeone with an emotional eating problem might be so focused on getting rid of the problem that they are not particularly concerned with why they have the problem. But understanding why they have the problem can provide them with clues on how to get rid of it.

A book I’ve had in my library for some time, The Eating Disorder Sourcebook, by Carolyn Costin, provides some really useful information on the needs that emotional eating fills for most sufferers.

Carolyn lists some common states of being for the eating disordered individual:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Diminished self-worth
  • Belief in the thinness myth
  • Need for distraction
  • Dichotomous (black or white) thinking
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Quest for perfection
  • Desire to be special/unique
  • Need to be in control
  • Need for power
  • Desire for respect and admiration
  • Difficulty expressing feelings
  • Need for escape or a safe place to go
  • Lack of coping skills
  • Lack of trust in self and others
  • Terrified of not measuring up

She makes a few important points about this list that are worth noting:

“A person in one or more of the above states will naturally seek comfort for, alleviation of, or distraction from their feelings.” And eating when having these feelings is one of the best ways to cover up or be distracted from them.

“Eating disorder symptoms can be seen as behavioral manifestations of a disordered self.”

“… an eating disorder, for all the problems it creates, is an effort to cope, communicate, defend against, and even solve other problems. …

“… the adaptive function of an individual’s eating and weight-related behaviors must be discovered and replaced with healthier alternatives.”

Choosing “healthier alternatives” to emotional eating should only be the first step. The next steps should be eliminating the source of the problem

There are three major approaches to treating eating disorders:

  • Psychodynamic
  • Cognitive behavioral
  • Disease/addiction

I would classify The Lefkoe Method as a type of psychodynamic approach, in that this approach argues that it is important to address and resolve the underlying causes for disordered behaviors. If that is not done, the problems may subside for a while, but usually return.

What do you think is the source of emotional eating? Please join the conversation below.

To find out more about how The Lefkoe Method can help you eliminate your emotional eating problem, please see my eBook, The Secret to Ending Overeating For Good. http://emotionaleatingreport.com.

Copyright © 2011 Morty Lefkoe

3,966 thoughts on “Emotional Eating Is An Adaptive Behavior”

  1. My book, ***, introduces readers to the emotional-eating cycle and how to conquer it. We turn to foods to soothe, comfort and provide relief to intense feelings, low moods and boredom. As a Registered Social Worker, former bulimic and owner of a weight-loss counselling service, I help clients understand our emotional dependency on foods. Willpower and dieting are seen as the solution, however, they make the situation worse. Learn about root causes of emotional eating and how your brain and hormones are key players in food cravings and addiction.

    1. Hi Treena,

      Thanks for taking the time to post.

      Did you have a chance to take a look at my eBook on emotional eating? How are our ideas the same and how different?


      Thanks for the help you are giving people who really need it.

      Love, Morty

  2. almost everybody can tick off items on that list of causes cant they ?
    My impression is that these feelings are so common and the negative habits that can develop from them are so numerous that I feel like I would be entering a quagmire trying to address the causes. I experience most of them sometime or another (and I think I’m relatively normal) and wouldn’t know where to start.

    1. Hi Paul,

      Yes, you can develop a wide variety of symptoms from these feelings, emotional eating is just one of them What problem you develop is largely a function of your beliefs.


  3. In the last 2 days I have admitted to myself that I have this problem. Years and Years have passed and I always refer to when I was thin as if this was when I was “ok”.

    Truth is I have never been ok. Since the age of 13 I have lived in a nightmare of dependency on food. As a dancer for years, I was able to keep slim and work off all the high calories I consumed. I also became bulimic (which still surfaces occasionally – maybe about 3 or 4 times a year).

    As soon as I stopped dancing and became a mum – that was it. Fat and frump city. Invisible. Miserable. Still young enough to be pretty, but not strong enough to deny myself my only pleasure – my food treats.

    This time I have had to take a different approach and admit that there is a deeper problem. I know what it is, but as Paul says it is like opening a can of worms. I don’t know how to do it on my own. I know how to diet and lose weight, but I don’t know how to get off the ferris wheel and say goodbye to the overwhelming desire to stuff my face every day.

    I thought that maybe I should contact overeaters annonymous – but then wonder if I am overreacting and overanalysing.

    As my step brother told me – it’s not rocket science just cut out the crap…….

    Is it really all that easy? Not for me anyway….

    Would be interested in others experiences

    Love R

  4. I joined Overeaters Anonymous. I’ve found it to be enormously helpful and, most importantly, affordable. Maybe the Lefkoe method would work for me but I can’t afford it. Reading the EmotionalEatingReport was useful but knowing something does not translate into stopping doing it, like compulsive binge eating or other EDs. Whereas doing OA’s 12 Step programe has given me a plan of action and the support of other compulsive eaters to identify and eliminate my “defects” (limiting self beliefs) and will continue to do so throughout my life. Have I stopped binge eating? Have I figured out all my resentments and fears and changed my responses? No, not yet. But I’m getting better at focusing on progress not perfectionism and stopping grabbing at solutions outside myself. If you have the money to spare, I’d definitely try the LefKoe method. For me, though, I don’t trust that it will truly eliminate my beliefs – and we OAers have tried every therapy available.

    1. Hi SB,

      Try eliminating three of the most common negative self-esteem beliefs for free at http://recreateyourlife.com/free.

      That will show you that beliefs can be eliminated permanently. Over 90,000 have tried the program.

      You may not be able to afford our program right now, but you should know that beleifs can be eliminated. Let me know what you think after you try.

      Love, Morty

  5. Hi there, I tried eliminating “I’m not good enough” and “Mistakes are bad” but neither worked for me. I spent about 3 hours repeating the steps but decided to cut my losses. I understand intellectually what it’s trying to achieve but it just doesn’t seem to work for me. Glad to hear that it works for others, though.

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