Food and Behaviour Research

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Feeding your feelings: emotion regulation strategies and emotional eating

Evers C, Marijn Stok F, de Ridder DT (2010) Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2010 Jun;36(6): 792-804 doi: 10.1177/0146167210371383. Epub 2010 May 11 

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Abstract:

The process by which emotions affect eating behavior emerges as one of the central unresolved questions in the field of emotional eating. The present studies address the hypothesis that the regulation strategies people use to deal with these emotions are responsible for increased eating.

Negative emotions were induced and intake of comfort food and non-comfort food was measured by means of taste tests. Emotion induction was preceded by measuring individual differences in emotion regulation strategies (Study 1) or by instructions to regulate emotions in either an adaptive (reappraisal) or maladaptive (suppression) manner (Study 2). Study 3 also entailed a control condition without any regulation instructions.

Relative to reappraisal and spontaneous expression, suppression led to increased food intake, but only of the comfort foods. Emotions themselves were not responsible for this effect. These findings provide new evidence that the way in which emotions are regulated affects eating behavior.