Because You Had a Bad Day: Understanding Emotional Eating

During adolescence, young people undergo significant developments that make them emotionally vulnerable, resulting in increased emotional reactivity to negative emotions. As we cannot and should not ask them to avoid emotional experiences, it seems especially important to pay attention to how young people deal with or regulate challenging emotions. While researching emotion regulation processes I discovered that emotional eating is highly prevalent (up to 44 % in community samples) and hinder weight control. Nevertheless, the causes and consequences are still under study. My research started from the observation that when challenging emotions are not successfully managed, this is often associated with eating comfort food in the absence of hunger, also defined as emotional eating. I will discuss some pertinent questions and show how young people can learn to master emotional eating patterns.

Caroline Braet

Ghent University. Belgium

Involvement with youth mental health. Researching developmental psychopathology and child psychotherapy with focus on eating problems and depression within a diathesis-stress perspective. Full professor at Ghent University. As licensed cognitive behaviour therapist, she is involved in many clinical courses and she is the coordinator of the Ghent University Child Mental Health Centre. She acquired >43 granted research projects, resulting in 31 PhD’s and >200 peer-reviewed publications (h-index = 42, ISI). Together with her PhD students, she wrote more than 20 books. In 2020 she received the Maslow Award for her work.

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