Emotion Regulation in Binge Eating Disorder: A Review

Nutrients. 2017 Nov 22;9(11):1274. doi: 10.3390/nu9111274.


The purpose of the present review is to provide a summary of the research findings on emotion regulation in Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Negative emotions and maladaptive emotion regulation strategies play a role in the onset and maintenance of binge eating in BED. Anger and sadness, along with negative emotions related to interpersonal experiences (i.e., disappointment, being hurt or loneliness), seem to be particularly relevant. Individuals with BED have a tendency to suppress and ruminate on their unwanted emotions, which leads to increased psychopathological thoughts and symptoms. Compared to healthy controls, they use adaptive strategies, such as reappraisal, less frequently. Evidence concerning the causal relation between negative affect and binge eating is inconclusive and still very limited. While experimental studies in a laboratory setting lack ecological validity, ecological momentary assessment studies offer more promise at unraveling the causal relationship between emotions and binge eating. Increases in negative affect are found to be antecedents of binge eating in BED. However, there seems to be less support for the possibility that binge eating serves as a means to alleviate negative affect. Finally, BED seems to be related to other forms of maladaptive emotion regulation strategies, such as substance abuse and self-harm.

Keywords: Binge Eating Disorder; anger; emotion; negative mood; regulation; review; suppression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Binge-Eating Disorder / psychology*
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / therapy*
  • Bulimia / psychology*
  • Bulimia / therapy*
  • Emotions*
  • Empirical Research
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic