5 emotions that lead to overeating and weight gain – Dr Wendy Davis ND

5 emotions that lead to overeating and weight gain

Most of us have heard of stress eating, eating our feelings or drowning our sorrows, and research shows that our moods can definitely impact how and what we eat.  These are a number of  emotions associated with overeating,  and so being mindful of these can help you reduce emotionally driven snacking.


Often when we are bored we think that eating something will relieve the feelings of having nothing to do, as it gives us something to do. Often the foods we choose to snack on when we are bored are not carrot sticks, but carb/fat rich snacks.

This often comes down to the fact that when we are bored you lose the ability to make smart food choices and end up eating more fattening foods than you normally would.


Stress eating, this is very common and has been more apparent over the last 3 pandemic years.

When many of us are stressed we want something to distract us from what is upsetting us.  We may know that what we are choosing may not be ideal, but it is quite difficult not to cave into our cravings at this time. 

Studies suggest that chronic stress can make you eat more sweet and calorie-dense foods. This happens because of the hormone cortisol and the neurotransmitter serotonin. 

Sugar and high carb foods promote the production of serotonin and fat-filled foods inhibit stress-related brain activity, so we crave for this food. 

Unfortunately, cortisol is responsible for collecting all the unused fatty acid and storing it as fat in the belly region.


Even before the pandemic research showed the negative impact that loneliness had on our health, which of course for many was exacerbated during covid.

When we are upset or lonely, many people want comfort and distraction and when no one is around food is the quick and easy distraction. 

Even if we are not that hungry, it is natural to reach out to food when we are all by ourselves A new study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior revealed that people who often feel lonely experience greater circulating levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin after their meal, which causes them to feel hungrier sooner than normal.


Not all emotions that cause us to eat are negative.  Happiness and food often go hand in hand. Consider how we like to celebrate our wins; whether it is scoring well on an exam or completing a huge project at work, many of us think that we have earned a treat for ourselves and it does not feel wrong to indulge a little. It's a reward for our achievement and hard work. This is not a bad thing, but we need to be mindful and conscious in the choices we make as it is common to end up having unhealthy foods and eating more than normal.


Frustration is another feeling that drives our desire to eat.  If you are frustrated with your relationship, work or aspects in your life, it is common to reach out for your comfort food to divert your attention from what is upsetting you.  Food is a short term fix as it lets you temporarily escape from reality. Although food may help mask stresses and resentments, its effects are temporary, and do nothing to change your reality. 

You will be trapped in the situation unless and until you build the courage to face it.