Emotional Eating Treatment

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
woman with two burgers

If you're like most Americans, you've probably eaten emotionally at least a few times in your life. In most cases, emotional eating from time to time isn't a problem. However, if emotional eating has become an addiction or eating disorder and is negatively impacting your life, it's time to seek medical treatment.

1. Psychotherapy

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, counseling or psychotherapy is the most effective treatment (especially long-term) for eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and pica (eating non-food objects or items). Seek a therapist who specializes in emotional eating and eating disorders. This medical professional may refer you to group therapy sessions (support groups) or suggest family counseling.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a specific form of psychotherapy that's often used to help treat bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. CBT is an approach that allows emotional eaters to identify unhelpful thinking patterns, change inaccurate beliefs about eating, and solve problems by coming up with his or her own solution for emotional eating behaviors.

3. Medication

Certain medications can also help treat emotional eating patterns and eating disorders. Such medications include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotic medications. The National Institute of Mental Health notes that Prozac, an antidepressant medication, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating people with bulimia nervosa and helps relieve anxiety and depression in people with eating disorders or emotional eating.

4. Nutritional Counseling

Seeing a dietitian for nutritional counseling is also a must if you suffer from an eating disorder, according to a 2010 publication in Today's Dietitian. Cathy Leman, MA, RD, LD, the author of this article, reports nutrition knowledge plays a key role in eating disorder treatment. Learning how much food your body needs, which foods to choose, and how to portion foods properly is an important part of medical treatment for emotional eating.

5. Medical Care/Monitoring

Being monitored and cared for by a medical professional is a must for eating-related disorder treatment. Medical management by a primary care provider helps many people with eating disorders and emotional eating recover, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. This may include regular monitoring of mental health, body weight, blood pressure, and blood tests to rule out nutrient deficiencies and other abnormalities.

Bottom Line

Medical treatment is available and often effective for people suffering from out-of-control emotional eating. Knowing when to seek treatment, and actually doing so, is a must if you suffer from an eating disorder.

Emotional Eating Treatment