Revealed: The eight different kinds of emotional eaters

What do YOUR eating habits say about you? Expert reveals the eight appetite types from the ‘constant craver’ to the ‘fad follower’ – and how identifying yours can help you lose weight

  • A British expert has revealed the eight different kinds of emotional eater
  • Marisa Peer pointed out the unique triggers and behaviours for various people
  • Pointed out how addictive eaters will crave junk food and love biscuits and cake
  • Said habitual eaters will get themselves into a routine with snacking and meals

If you’re struggling to lose weight and can’t understand why, one expert’s theory may help you finally shift the pounds.

Therapist and author Marisa Peer, previously listed as one of the UK’s best 250 doctors by Tatler and Best British Therapist by Men’s Health magazine, has revealed there are eight different eating categories that everyone falls into – and when you work out which one you belong to, it’s easier to slim down. 

The Preston-based food expert told FEMAIL: ‘The problem with most diets is they do not address the root cause of why people overeat so when someone reaches their desired weight, they still have an unhealthy relationship with food and usually put the weight back on.’

But Marisa said once you identify the type of emotional eater you are, and the triggers which might prompt you to eat, then you can tackle your weight in a totally different way.

So how do you know what type of eater you are? Here FEMAIL reveals the signs, symptoms, cravings and triggers to look out for. 

Therapist and author Marisa Peer has revealed how there eight different eating categories that everyone falls into – and when you work out which one you belong to, it’s easier to slim down (stock image) 

If you love sugary treats: Addictive Eater

What is it and how does the habit start?

If you turn to comfort foods when you’re feeling stressed: Emotional Eater 

What is it and how does the habit start?   

‘For numerous reasons, parents can be emotionally and physically unavailable to their children.

‘Often they will try to make this up to them by treating them to sweet foods to keep them occupied when they are busy.

‘Young children then associate food with love and find comfort in that.

‘So whenever they feel unhappy or find themselves in a stressful situation, they use food especially sugar or comfort foods as a coping mechanism.’

What are the signs?  

‘Turning to comfort foods and binge eating when you feel stressed or bored, sad, lonely or as a way to deal with most problems is indicative of an emotional eater. 

‘You might find yourself regularly snacking at your desk to deal with the daily stresses of work even when you’re not hungry. 

‘The food of choice is likely to be refined carbohydrates and sweet things.’

How to stop

‘Recognise that you are using food as a means to make you feel better about yourself.  

‘Instead, treat yourself as you would a young child by giving yourself the right self-care – find better healthier versions of comfort food.

‘Hot tea or soup are wonderfully comforting but make sure you don’t load either up with sugar, milk or cream.

‘Emotional eaters need to feel nourished by things other than food but primarily self-love and often find therapy are a beneficial route to long term recovery.’

‘An addictive eater is one of the only types that can be born with an addiction to sugary foods.’

‘Most addictive eaters will be raised on sweet, starchy foods such as sweet breakfast cereals and toast with jam to start the day, come home from school and be allowed to raid the biscuit tin or eat sugary snacks before sitting down to a dinner high in starches and carbs, such as sausages and beans.’

What are the signs?

‘Do you crave junk or fast food that is loaded with sugar, salt and fat? It’s likely that, no matter how hard you try, you find yourself trapped in this addictive cycle of empty calorie eating. 

‘Nothing satisfies you unless it is sweet and gives you a buzz. 

‘You might complain that there is nothing to eat in the house when what you actually mean is there are no biscuits, cakes or white bread.

‘You’re a fan of fast food as nothing beats the taste and to quench your thirst, fizzy drinks tend to hit the spot more than water.’

How to stop 

‘You can only stop feeding the addiction by first identifying your triggers, then initially cutting them out, breaking the cycle for at least a month and replacing them with a healthy alternative. 

‘Limit yourself to eating these foods sparingly in the future – you will probably find that you no longer enjoy them but if the desire to binge on them creeps in, remind yourself how far you have come.

If you tend to eat on a schedule: Habitual Eater

What is it and how does the habit start?   

‘Children who grow up in a household where food was the natural accompaniment to everything are likely to become habitual eaters. 

‘A cup of tea never came without a biscuit, a trip to the cinema was incomplete without popcorn or a day out usually meant a picnic was de rigueur.

‘Eating becomes a habit rather than something to nourish your body when you feel hungry.

‘Similarly, people who had to eat everything on their plate and were not allowed to leave the table until they had, or were encouraged to eat meals hurriedly as a child to meet their parents busy schedule might also fall into this category.’ 

What are the signs?

‘If you were conditioned as a child that food has to be part of everyday life, you will continue these habits into adulthood.

‘Having a drink at the pub means buying crisps or peanuts to snack alongside it even though you are not hungry – it really is a habit.

‘Similarly, if you had to have a clean plate at the end of every meal, then leaving food is seen as wrong and you will eat every last morsel, even though you felt full halfway through.   

‘You probably end up eating any leftovers on your children or other people’s plates too.

If you often ‘binge eat’: Destructive Eater 

What is it and how does the habit start? 

‘Both overeating and undereating can fall into this category. 

‘More women than men fall into this pattern, which does not usually start until the age of 10 plus.

‘It is often the result of trauma such as sexual abuse, bullying or seeing other women being objectified.

‘Similarly, if food was restricted by a parent as a means of controlling or punishing a child, this can also result in a destructive eating type.’

What are the signs?

‘They often binge eat, will have several portions, choose the biggest bag of sweets whilst shopping and hide food to snack on when they are alone.

‘Perhaps they find excuses for buying more by looking for food that is on special offer. 

‘They will always be the first one to offer to pop to the shop as it allows them the chance to sneak a quick snack, or the first one up to the buffet at a party.’

How to stop 

‘Destructive eaters will find a lasting solution when they deal with their feelings and take charge of their thoughts, beliefs and language. 

‘They need to feel safe and feel comfortable with their body at a healthy weight. 

‘Again, therapy can help a destructive eater begin this journey.’

‘Instead of putting leftovers in the freezer for another time, you will finish up the last of something. Habitual eaters will also eat quickly.’

How to stop 

‘The good news is that this is one of the easier overeating types to change because it is simply about learning to break the habit. 

‘For people who feel duty bound to clear their plate, listening to their body and when it feels full, then leaving what is left is empowering. 

‘There are some simple steps to breaking an old habit that include convincing yourself you can do it, committing to starting immediately, pushing through temptation to give in and rewarding yourself in ways other than food as you hit milestones. 

‘Learning to slow down eating is also a good way to start breaking this habit – savour every mouthful and chew it really well. 

‘Extend the pleasure of eating and you will begin to notice how your body feels and the sensation of being full.’

If you lean into food ‘fads’ without much thought: Ignorant Eater

What is it and how does the habit start? 

‘Food fads come and go. Once upon a time, dried fruit such as raisins, smoothies and fruit juice together with large glasses of milk were all considered healthy.

‘We happily substitute oat almond milk for dairy, forgetting to read the labels so not realising that some varieties are brimming with sugar. 

‘Just because something is fat or sugar free or reduced this or that, doesn’t mean it isn’t packed with other stealth ingredients.

‘And when certain foods are perceived as healthy, people are happy to consume large quantities – but a healthy relationship with food is all about balance.’

What are the signs?  

‘Despite efforts at ‘healthy’ eating or using reduced-fat foods, you still struggle with weight problems and have probably tried numerous different diets you read about.

‘If you still happily chow down on foods that you were given as a child understanding them to be healthy, think again. 

‘Similarly you might reject anything that you consider to be a fatty food. You might choose healthy ready meals or exist on diet foods and drinks. 

How to stop

‘Take back your power and reeducate yourself about healthy eating. Learn how to understand food labels and instead of turning to ready meals, try making simple meals with a few good ingredients. 

‘Cookery programmes have convinced us that unless our plates are filled with lots of ingredients plus a sauce, they are not a meal. 

If you feel you ‘need’ food to keep going throughout the day:  Constant cravers

What is it and how does the habit start?     

‘Were you allowed to graze on food all day as a child, either because your parents were busy or it was easier than having to prepare meals? 

‘Perhaps you were described as a picky eater and in sheer despair, your parents decided to give in to your demands to eat cereal, biscuits, yoghurt and chips.’

What are the signs?

‘Constant cravers seem to feel hungry more often than other people and have a ‘need’ for food to keep them stimulated throughout the day.

‘They might always have a snack on the go or wake up in the night and head to the kitchen for something to eat. 

‘Often they find it difficult to satisfy this craving – they know they feel like something but they cannot quite put their finger on it so will graze throughout the day on a host of options. 

‘They don’t necessarily focus on just sugary foods or salty foods but will nibble away all day. 

‘They often convince themselves they have not really eaten much because of this approach, but a spoonful of peanut butter here and a slice of cheese there soon starts to mount up.

‘Some constant cravers might struggle with drinking water and think they are hydrating if they opt for fizzy drinks or cups of tea instead. 

‘The body becomes used to a constant flow of food and drink which fuels and continues the cycle.’

How to stop 

Drinking water throughout the day can help a constant craver to get that sense of feeling full. 

‘Mindfulness and being present in the moment is another way to start thinking differently about food, unlearning a habit which served a child well but is no longer relevant to the adult. 

‘Eating slowly, learning to enjoy a meal for the time spent with friends or family and becoming aware of how feeling full is more satisfying than endless picking.’


‘Start food planning instead of convenience shopping or making impulse purchases.’

If you eat to release tension: Angry Eater

What is it and how does the habit start?    

‘People who have suppressed their emotions including anger are often angry eaters. 

‘Instead of being able to express themselves, they had to bottle these feelings up inside of them and use food as a means of dealing with their anger instead.

‘They are literally eating their feelings.’ 

What are the signs?

‘If you eat to either release tension or help to keep it at bay, favouring foods that bite back and have a crunch you might be an angry eater. 

‘You opt for crunchy foods like crisps, apples, crunchy peanut butter, popcorn, nachos, hard-boiled sweets, crusty bread or anything that requires a lot of chomping like steak. 

‘Whilst friends might patiently lick an ice cream or suck on a sweet, you’ll crunch your way through something at speed.’

How to stop 

‘When feeling the urge to chomp because of stress, sugar free gum can be a much better way to satisfy that craving and release tension. 

‘However, be careful not to chew more than several pieces a day as sugar-free gum can have a laxative effect on the digestive system.

‘Hot drinks have the same effect.’ 

‘It is important to address the root cause of the anger which means a journey of self-discovery. Try breathing or fullness techniques.’

If your whole life revolves around your meals: Feasters

What is it and how does the habit start?    

‘If your parents loved putting on lavish, buffet-style parties when you were a child or went over the top with the chocolate treats at Easter, especially when there was an audience to impress, you may have learnt to be a feaster.

What are the signs?

‘Feasters lives revolve around a variety and excess of food. 

‘Christmas for them is all about the food and they love planning what they are going to serve months in advance. 

‘Holidays are about the restaurants they will eat at, a take-away is disappointing unless they order a veritable smorgasbord of goodies to pick-over. 

‘They always excessively order more side dishes in a restaurant along with bread and olives.

‘Because they have to try a little of everything, they eat more than they should and don’t know when to stop, often being disappointed when they eat at someone else’s house because of the lack of choice and variety. This is almost perceived as boring.’

How to stop

‘If you recognise yourself as a feaster, begin by opting for high-protein foods as this will keep you feeling fuller for longer. 

‘Use a side plate instead of a dinner plate for your main meals and try to eat meals made up of just three items. A chicken breast with a green salad or vegetables is enough.

‘We eat a whopping 75 per cent more when if we are given more than three varieties of food as every new taste, flavour and texture stimulates your appetite and makes you eat more. 

‘That’s why burger chains add lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickle and sauce to reel you in because you are exciting your appetite with every bite.’

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