That's why Temple University is continuing its study on how to best help people overcome emotional eating.
Vinny Grassi lost 48 pounds while enrolled in the study.
He says what helped him is a food diary - not just writing down what he ate, but also how he was feeling at the time.
"I'd be eating my dinner and the kids would be acting up and so I'd write down 'STRESSED OUT!' with lots of exclamation points," said Grassi.
"A lot of people do say that once they write it down, they start to see patterns that they didn't notice were there before," said Dr. Edie Goldbacher of Temple University.
Goldbacher says once people recognize unhealthy habits it is easier to slow down and change them.