City Research Online

Managing emotions through eating

Foran, Athena I. (2015). Managing emotions through eating. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


Emotional eating plays a significant role in the aetiology of eating disorders and obesity, and has been observed in healthy, non-restrained individuals. Despite this, research that examines emotional eating has mainly focused on females, obese populations and individuals who have a formal diagnosis of an eating disorder, the studies of which have been mainly involved surveys, experimental, observational or quantitative methods. Research has also found significant gender differences in emotional eating, yet there has been limited investigation into emotional eating in men. This research attempted to understand the process of emotional eating in men using constructivist grounded theory. The purpose of this study was to understand the way in which men use food in response to emotions and the impact it has on their psychological well-being. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with thirteen male participants aged between 23-61 years of age. All participants were fluent in English, half of the participants were from the UK, 4 were from Europe, and the remaining three were from Mexico, Egypt and Malaysia. Four main categories were developed from the data: Negotiating Masculinity, Emotional Eating Serving a Function, Seeking Control and Stuck in the Cycle. One core category encompassed all of the categories: Navigating Emotions and Masculinity through Eating. The categories were complex and linked to one another, demonstrating the cyclical nature of emotional eating. An emergent theory was developed and mapped onto a conceptualisation that attempts to explain the process of emotional eating in men, demonstrating the way masculinity affects the way that these men cope with their emotions through eating. The findings of this study provide an insight for Counselling Psychologists and other mental health practitioners working with men who struggle with managing their emotions and turn to food in attempt to cope.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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