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How Many People Eat in the Bathroom?

Recent UK survey reveals a surprising number eat in the bath and on the toilet.

Key points

  • There are legitimate reasons why people eat in the tub or on the toilet (e.g., privacy, emotional eating, and multi-tasking to save time).
  • If any of us eat in the bathroom, let's not judge ourselves or others.
  • Instead, let's practice self-care and choose healthier options.
Denise Robertson, photo used with permission
Source: Denise Robertson, photo used with permission

According to Study Finds,1 over a fifth of people admitted to eating while in the bathtub and 18 percent on the toilet. In the UK, 2,000 people were polled by OnePoll, and they revealed some of the strangest places they like to snack in private.

Contrary to a lot of the press that’s been capitalizing on the ick-factor of this, let’s remove the judgment about hygiene for a few minutes. Let’s instead look at two things: first, eating as a coping and self-soothing method; second, choosing the bathroom as a treat site.

Eating as coping

We’ve all probably heard the term “emotional eating.” Sometimes we crunch away our anger. Maybe we eat sweets when we are yearning for pleasant, nurturing relief. We try to eat super healthy things to calm anxieties about health. Resourcefully, we may self-medicate through eating foods that cause certain brain chemicals to be released that create shifts inside us. Furthermore, let’s face it: Something delicious can provide a source of pleasure and a momentary break from our stress, pain, and fast-paced lives.

For some, food is fuel. Yet, for many others, food and eating offer multi-faceted experiences. Both can be associated with culture, community, comfort, celebration, memories, safety, etc. Eating food is more than “just” a necessity for energy and an obligation for survival. Again, this is very human. Please don’t judge yourself.

The beloved bathroom

Let’s look at possible reasons why so many people might be using their bathrooms as kitchens and coping spaces.

When we feel emotional and want no one to see it, where do we often retreat? The bathroom. Shut the door and ugly-cry or cuss in private. We talk to the image in the mirror—sometimes it’s self-flagellation, and sometimes it’s a needed pep-talk. Ever seen the old “Calgon take me away” ads? A bath is a common form of self-care or relaxation (or at least it’s been pitched that way for years).

If the only space someone has that’s private is the bathroom, which is common in crowded households, then voila! Eating in the john makes sense and isn’t so shocking. (If you are struggling to find empathy or understanding here, think about quarantine. Even in households with only a couple of people, private calls were made from closets, cars, bathrooms, etc.)

Eating while on the toilet may be a result of overly scheduled lives. We eat and drive simultaneously to conserve time, so why not eat and eliminate at the same time? Well, because it’s unsanitary; that’s certainly a reason not to.

The potential solution(s)

To avoid or to stop being included in this statistic, what can you do?

  • Slow the heck down.
  • Learn to say no to things that overcommit you in unnecessary ways.
  • Talk about feelings instead of eating them away in the restroom.
  • Ask for privacy or alone space if and when you need it.

If you find yourself heading to the restroom for privacy or to nurture your emotions, then do it purely. Food can numb out what needs attention. Feel your feelings and hear your thoughts so they can inform you.

For most, the food will be there for you afterward—in the kitchen, at the store, wherever food is available—which is literally everywhere from the gas station to the home construction or lumber stores to friends’ houses to most places. In fact, it’s difficult to think of a space that does not push food or offer treats. That said, if we don’t always have access to consistent nutrition, food can feel especially powerful. Either way, take a moment to find a hygienic space to connect consciously with what you’re putting in your mouth. You may then experience more of what you are desiring.


1. Melore, C. (2022, March 22). Bathroom binge-eating? 1 in 5 people admit to snacking while bathing or on the toilet!

More from Alli Spotts-De Lazzer, MA, LMFT, LPCC, CEDS-S
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