If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “I am an emotional eater, I think thats the problem.”
But here’s a hard slap of loving reality that no one wants to say…. no shit we are! We all are! We celebrate birthdays with cake, special occasions with champagne and holidays, with food! SO why has it taken a bad turn… or has it?
I think it is important for us to first acknowledge on a very fundamental and basic level, that food and emotion often go together and this is NOT fundamentally a bad thing!!! or even the problem!! But somehow this is what we are all saying. Eating with emotion can provide sweetness and joy in our life, something to look forward to and can also bring connection, community and comfort and a host of all other feel good feelings, and that again, is not such a bad thing. Am I right?
So where are we going wrong?
Well in honesty, I think this is a two fold issue.1, being that as a society we are so miserable about the state of affairs and sometimes ourselves, we are reaching out for something to change that. Kinda makes sense and is perhaps not the healthiest option but how our brain knows how to survive. and 2, It feels soooo much better to have a “reason” or an answer to why “it” is happening. Because then there must be a solution right? Or so we think. Guess what though, you can’t shut off your emotions. Nor do you really want to. I don’t.
So what can we do about it to cultivate a different idea around our emotional eating?
Awareness is key. Knowing ourselves and what “trips” us up can be helpful in understanding repetitive behaviours that aren’t helping you meet your goals, whatever those goals are. Maybe food isn’t going to make you happy, comfortable etc. On the flip side, maybe there is occasion for there to be happiness and comfort to be the case.
Be specific –
about what your goals are. Knowing why, as in the awareness piece, but then making boundaries may be helpful or necessary if you are looking at creating positive change in your world of food. If your habit is to stuff emotions down with food, ok maybe it is something to revisit. But being compassionate to what your body and soul needs is a healthy way to create relationship with food. If you need new ways of coping, than lay out what that balance looks like.
and comfort in new ways that may not mean food. Maybe this is buying yourself flowers. Having a bath. Insert whatever else could prove meaningful to you. and again, maybe that does mean a treat food or otherwise.
Understanding and respecting when food should be attached with emotion. Be it a birthday, or special event, if this is something that is bringing you joy within the boundaries of your relationship with food, then absolutely…have the effing piece of cake!
about why you need to feel x,y,z… is there more to the big picture? Maybe explore what this is and maybe, if anything this symptom, cause that is kinda all that it is, can lead to some new discoveries that result in overall healthier habits that have you feeling happier in the long run.
know that patterns and habits are functions of your brain. Just as easily you learned them, so to can you unlearn them. This leaves you in the controller seat to make change!
Find and explore what that is and get specific. Do you feel happiest when x, y , z. We are numbed and oblivious as to what makes us happy because we are constantly distracted from the self. Find what makes you happy…do that more. Sounds simple? It is. It will also help you step into doing what feels authentically right and what habits are less helpful.
TRUTH : I believe you can have your cake and eat it too.
If you are looking for more support and ways to navigate emotional eating and other behaviours that make food stressful, lets chat. You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and also stay tuned for workshops and classes in 2018 that explore these issues and more!