Is Emotional Eating Really a Problem? – Video with Marc David

When we turn on the news, it should come as no surprise that the United States is trying to get a handle on an epidemic-level of dispute concerning our weight. Each week, it seems, there’s a new book on the shelf at the bookstore describing how to overcome ourselves and to get our weight issues under control, whether we’re dealing with emotionally driven overeating, under-eating, binge eating, or bulimia – will power is often seen as the cure.

So why is it that with all this well-intentioned knowledge and health studies, people just can’t help themselves when it comes to eating?

I see it in so many of my clients, and even in my students who come to study with us at IPE, exerting so much energy in trying to manage, control, count, and white-knuckle their way to health by wrestling their appetite!

And the end result is unfortunately always the same: “I was doing really well until…”

The amount of guilt that arises inside when we feel we’ve failed ourselves is tremendous. We berate ourselves for not  getting it together, because we need stronger willpower, and maybe we’re just a loser. Maybe we’re destined for eternal nutritional bondage, because we just can’t stop eating.

Would it surprise you if there really isn’t anything “wrong” with us when it comes to emotional eating?

In reality there is only one reason why emotional eating is not the enemy we think it is – and it’s because we are emotional beings.

Check out the video to learn more.

We love to hear your perspective – what has your journey with understanding the emotional side of food been like?

Warm regards,
Marc David
Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014

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  • Wow Marc, that’s very powerful! I watched two of your videos and was enthralled. In two weeks I will be a Certified Health Coach. I started my business to help people lose weight and attain their maximum health potential over a year ago; but there were some things missing. I am very excited to learn from you guys at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating as well as En*theos. This is God moving in my life! Perfect info, perfect timing…what else would you expect from God? I am ever so grateful for the personal growth that I am experiencing. Thank you so much!

    • Hello Melissa!
      So pleased to hear you like what we’re about here!
      Happy to have you along as one of the tribe.


  • Dear Marc, I love the themes you bring up, they all count! As for emotional eating, I doubt if a human, being alive, can eat without emotions and be in a healthy balance. So yes, embrace this aspect as it is a fundamental part of our existence. As always, looking forward to a new post!

    • Gwendolyn,
      Thanks for the kind words…
      It’s amazing how many of us have been fooled into thing we have to give up some part of ourselves to become happy – but the power is embracing everything about ourselves, the good and the messy.

      Thank you for adding to the conversation here.


  • Michelle

    Hi Marc,

    I like you’re perspective on this. My experience is that emotional eating has been something that I need to be ashamed of and pointed to some of my underlying fears of not being good enough. I think it also contributes to shame around overeating and being overweight.

    Putting emotional eating into the context that we are all emotional beings and to deny food as an emotional experience deprives us of the joy we can experience through food as well. It takes away our ability to nourish ourselves with Vitamin ‘P’ and makes it more difficult, in my opinion, to deal constructively with the emotions we are bringing to the meal and understand what they mean for us.

    Thanks once again.


    • Hi Michelle –
      Glad you got something from this article that could provide you a new perspective of yourself.

      Wishing you all the best,

  • Zoe Waggoner

    Hi Marc,

    Thanks again for a sane, compassionate viewpoint of this notion of ’emotional eating’. I so appreciate your articulation of something we have misnamed, I think!

    I recently had a lovely man who said he ‘beat a path’ to the refrigerator several times a night. As we explored what was happening right as he opened that refrigerator door, I had him put his hand on his belly. He did not notice much happening there – no surprise. But when I had him put his hand on his heart as he gazed into the refrigerator, he said: “my heart is broken.”

    After some sessions together this did not surprise me – and it surely surprised him. Thankfully now he has another viewpoint of what is happening and is something we can work on together. And for him to work on at home!

    I continue to be a huge fan and again appreciate all that you do. And I look forward to the upcoming event in August!


    • Hello Zoe,
      This is so beautiful …
      It seems that many people are living their lives from a similar place: broken-heartedness. Nothing he could have put in his mouth, nutritionally speaking, could heal a broken heart. It takes healing, time, awareness, space and devotion. This is the difference… and a beautiful reminder, indeed.
      Thank you for sharing.


  • Very true, Marc, we are very emotional creatures so it would make sense that we would eat emotionally. There’s such a negative connotation around emotional eating, but there really doesn’t have to be. I definitely think more people need to hear your viewpoint and embrace it! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Hi Sue –
      It’s amazing how many negative connotations we have around so much of what is natural and fully human: our bodies, our feelings, our need for connection and love, and spirit. Thanks for joining in here…


  • I agree with both you and Sue. I think emotional eating is taken out of context much of the time. It doesn’t have to be viewed negatively at all and always thought of as over-eating, because that’s generally how people view it. Eating is emotional. Period.

  • Kacey Duggan

    Wow! It is amazingly great to hear someone express that we are emotional creatures that bring emotion into everything in our lives, even eating! Too many times we are brought up believing we have to bash at our feelings until they are totally controlled and we stuff food in to quiet the feelings that are begging to be expressed. Giving myself the freedom to see my times of emotionally wanting to stuff food in really opened my eyes to many things I needed to deal with directly. Thanks for the help. Now I have stopped beating up on myself for having something wrong with me that I do this and started being kinder to myself and seeing it as a guide to needing to look at what’s really there and acting on it. Some times it is very complex and takes working on to get it dealt with and sometimes its as simple as I am really needing my sleep and I should stop forcing myself to stay awake and get my sleep.
    Btw I really enjoyed the first conference in August. Looking forward to the one in September! Thanks for the work you do!

    • Hi Kacey,
      Thank for so clearly expressing the wonder and power that awareness can have – sometimes when we slow down and allow what’s happening to happen with acceptance, we learn all kinds of things about ourselves that had before remained hidden. I’m so glad you’re being kinder to yourself. It is complex and tricky but it’s always worth it. Hope to see you at the conference in Boulder!


  • Susan Prescott

    I have been exercising and eating healthy for quite a long time, but really came to terms with what that means and connected my mind, body and spirit when I attended most of your virutal conference several weeks ago. Prior to that conference I would have thought that was hooey, quite honestly, but now I get it. What has occurred to me lately and was reinforced by reading your perspective on emotional eating is that my healthy eating affects others who like to feed me. When I don’t eat the food they think is so delectable, they take it as a rejection of them or that I refuse to have “food fun” with them. I need to figure out how to nuture those relationships with those people to whom speific foods means so much. Even though I don’t think it is healthy for them to eat that way…. I do not judge. I just try to lead by example. But they judge me for being so “picky” when I won’t have a sandwich at their favorite sandwich shop because there is only white bread. I had to learn to be strong to maihealthy choices when I am with them, not let their judgement bother me and continue not to judge them. Now I find I do avoid their social engagements that revolve around poor food choices (I didn’t meet them at the pizza parlor last week for instance.) My questions about ingredients are almost an embarrassment to them. And then, because I still am not skinny, they don’t seem to believe that I actually maintain this more life style than 95% of the time. Our relationship is deeper than the “food connection” but it does put a little strain on things.

    • Dear Susan,

      Thank you for sharing this with us.
      There is so much here that I believe others can relate to.
      Judgment can most certainly deteriorate friendships, but it’s okay if they think you’re picky – the key however is that, just as they enjoy their food passionately, so too can you enjoy your food. If there’s no joy in it, chances are it’s not proving to be as nourishing as you would like it to be. There are so many aspects to choosing foods that are “good” for YOU.

      In these types of situations, I find people often feel that your rejection of their food is a direct judgment on them, so maybe there’s a way to compromise – perhaps have a homemade build-your-own pizza party at your house. You can control the quality of the ingredients, offer white or whole-wheat, or gluten free dough, and lots of toppings.

      If their friendship is important to you, then let them know this is just a choice you’re making for yourself, and set up other activities with them: movies, concerts, book clubs, etc.
      Perhaps there are several steps to take here.
      Thanks again for sharing!


  • Thank you, Marc. Once again you have blown my mind with such sensible words.

    I had the pleasure of being part of your TYRF program, and loved it. So, this video was just the icing on the cake for me! I really admire your thoughts and am thankful that you make so many resources available to help people cope with emotional eating. The whole reframing concept is critical for change and for acceptance.

    Blessings to you and your staff for all that you do. It is truly a gift to be a part of your “revolution” and I pass it all on to my clients who suffer with these issues.

    Michelle (a.k.a The Curly Haired Chica)

  • Hi Michelle,
    I’m so glad you’re enjoying the work we’re doing and that you are a part of the “revolution”! Thanks for being part of the tribe…


About The Author
Marc David

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.