Emotional eating behaviour has been of interest to psychologists exclusively as a disorder. However, evidence suggests that it is a common aspect of normal food habits, initiated by both positive and negative emotions in order to regulate these. T behaviour thus serves to regain or preserve the psycho-mental homeostasis. To explain this phenomenon it is first shown which symbolic meanings are associated with eating and foods. The numerous connotations can be grouped into four basic dimensions: Security and pleasure as self-oriented, and status and prestige as socially oriented emotional symbols. Particularly the aspects of security and pleasure are suggested to be important motivators for emotional eating. How these symbolic meanings relate to eating as a regulatory device for emotions is explained by a schema- theoretical approach distinguishing between automatic adaptation mechanisms and strategic stabilization processes.