The internet is full of memes about gaining weight during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s no surprise: Being stuck at home without normal activities and constant access to food can easily lead to overeating. On top of boredom and proximity to food, the worries and stress that accompany a global pandemic can easily lead to emotional eating.
In fact, there is an entire body of evidence on how our emotions influence our eating behaviors. Researchers have learned that emotional eating is more complex than they once believed, and depends on a wide range of variables that can be difficult to measure.
One of the most important things researchers have learned is that emotional eating is complicated. An early systematic review established that each individual’s specific emotions and food choices are important elements in understanding emotional eating, and that secrecy surrounding eating is also a factor.