Assessing yourself as an emotional eater: mission impossible?
Ridder, D.T.D. de
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OBJECTIVE: The extent to which individuals are emotional eaters has typically been assessed by people's self-reported desire to eat when they experience negative emotions. Elevated scores on these emotional eater scales have been associated with eating pathology and obesity. However, evidence that individuals scoring high on these scales truly increase their food intake during emotional encounters is inconclusive. The current studies tested whether emotional eater scales capture the proposed tendency to eat when feeling emotional. DESIGN: In four experiments with different emotion induction procedures, female participants were randomly assigned to negative emotion or control conditions. In the control conditions positive or no emotions were induced. Next, food consumption was assessed by bogus taste tests. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Emotional eater status, emotional experience, and actual consumption of different food types. RESULTS: Individuals describing themselves as emotional eaters did not increase food intake during emotional encounters as compared to control conditions or individuals not judging themselves as emotional eaters. CONCLUSION: The results suggest that self-reported emotional eaters do not increase food intake during emotional encounters in the laboratory. Implications of these findings are discussed, including the idea that it may be complex to adequately assess one's own emotional eating behavior