You may have self diagnosed yourself as an emotional eater, and you’re looking for a way to stop it. Emotional eating Is a concern for so many women.
But when you think of yourself as an emotional eater, what you might really be saying is: I’m doing unwanted eating that is driven by unwanted feelings.
The thing is: You and I are emotional creatures by nature.
Think about this for a second: would be the opposite of emotional eating?. Unemotional eating? You just sit there like a garburator and eat?
Emotional eating also means you’re at a party, with friends and family sharing and enjoying food. That’s emotional eating too. Emotional eating can be your birthday bash, You are in celebration, mode, having a great time, and enjoying great food.
As humans, It’s impossible to eat without emotions present. You don’t necessarily have to fight and try to stop emotional eating. The problem is when you don’t fully experience, metabolize, feel and embrace the full spectrum of emotions that you feel.
When you are not experiencing and allowing yourself to feel what you feel, and process your emotions fully, then what happens is that emotions about food symbolically become more important. You put all these feeling, emotion and energy into your food, thinking its gonna make you feel good. In other words, you transfer unprocessed emotions in other areas of life, and place them into food.
I had a stressful day at work, I truly dislike my boss, but I can’t talk back at her. I’m tired, I get home and I reach for the bag of chips because the chewing of that crunchy texture relieves some of the stress.
In a way you are using food to regulate your emotional metabolism. Feel bad- have food- feel better. Makes good sense.
But Consider this instead of trying to stop emotional eating:
- If you’re eating poor quality food, you will be hungry for more because your body didn’t get what it needed. If you eat more, you’ll think you are overeating, or eating emotionally.
- If you’re restricting your calories during the day, your body screams for nutrition at night, you feel a strong impulse to eat; when you give-in to that impulse, you may think you are an emotional eater, and that you lack control. Not true.
- If you’re eating too fast, your body will ask for more, because your brain didn’t have time to register that it has been fed.
In order to stop emotional eating, the kind of eating that you do as a way to deal with unwanted emotions, first understand that there’s a good reason why you “emotionally eat”. So next time you feel you’re emotionally eating, ask yourself:
- What is happening around me, how do I feel right now?
- What is it that I’m hoping to get from this food I’m eating? How do I want to feel?
- Did I eat too fast?
- Did I eat enough?
- What else could make me feel good right now, instead of food?
A great way to stop emotional eating is to embrace the fact that you are human, and that you are imperfect. As human, you feel tons of emotions, so be gentle with yourself, and start to love that part of you.
Forgive yourself for the times when you emotionally eat, you will be okay. Forgiving yourself will put you into a path to healing and relaxation.
Become aware of the times when you “emotionally eat”, what emotions are you feeling, or repressing? How can you process those emotions without food?
For years I ate with apprehension, and judged the eating habits of myself and others.
After endless searching of the “perfect diet”, and trying to stop “emotional eating” I reached a place inside myself that acknowledged that whatever I was as an eater, was okay. If I ate lots of fruit, it was OK. If I ate beef, it was ok. If I wanted pizza, it was fine. Even if I ate chocolate and brownies until I was sick, to numb my stress, I was still ok.
By breaking free of rules fueled by fear and judgement, I was able to make awakened choices that worked.
And Ironically, letting go of self-imposed strict rules allowed me to return to them with renewed insight and a healthier momentum. I now have a deep appreciation for nourishment rather than a list of do’s and don’t’s. This is one of the great pleasures I experience with diet -Eating foods that I know are good for me, and that also taste and feel good.
I still have problematic areas with eating; some negative thoughts still come up; however, I no longer go to a place of judgement, tension and attack to myself about this part of me. I simply observe, and experiment with great fascination and curiosity.
If I eat because I feel sad or stressed out, I do not create further tension by by judging myself for giving in, or indulging or eating out of an emotional need. I just notice, and stay alert of what triggered me to eat at that moment.
Once you can accept the unpredictable nature of your body, your relationship to food becomes naturally exciting. It intrigues me to watch my food preferences change sometimes daily, how one week I want to eat granola every morning and, then for months I lose my taste for it, or how sometimes I crave bread for a period of time, and I enjoy it, and then I don’t fancy it for a while.
For many people such changes in food preferences and uncomfortable. And yet this changes are the essence of the eating experience.
“Expert Eaters” and Emotional Eating
It’s rare to find someone who has created a successful and peaceful working relationship to their diet.
Over the years I have met only a handful of people who possess the qualities I admire the most- a positive attitude about life, a radiant energy, a body that shows health no matter what the age, and a personal philosophy that works for them.
One of them is my partner Colin. He has been my best teacher in my journey of overcoming eating disorders, stopping emotional eating, and obsessions with diet. I observed that he only eats when he is hungry. He can go the whole day without even thinking about food, because he is entertained with work and other activities he enjoys.
When we are at a restaurant, he chooses what he is carving the most, and what he thinks he is going to enjoy most at that moment, he eats, enjoys it and then moves on to the next experience in life. He is not worried about how many calories or how many carbs that meal had, and how he is going to burn it off. He has already moved on.
He is one of the very few people I know who doesn’t go to food when he is stressed out. He actually stops eating when he is dealing with stress. He watches videos or goes out for motorcycle rides until he feels better.
Over the years, I have been emulating him, and it has been great to have him as a reminder of how peaceful and joyful eating can be when you just follow your intuition, and flow with it.
Despite the very different diets and life paths, the “expert eaters” have the following attributes in common:
- They eat with freedom from worry, fear or guilt.
- They eat with both: an intuitive understanding, and knowledge of the body’s changing nutritional needs.
- They accept their body as it is.
- They use diet as a transformational tool.
- They eat with joy.
Body size and food selection are not primary criteria for “expert” eaters. You can have an ideal body or achieve your “dream body weight” and still be unhappy, or you can eat what you consider the “perfect foods” and yet still experience guilt, cravings and lack of health.
The expert eaters, as do others, still encounter challenges with food. What’s different about them is their attitude. You can choose exactly how you react to any feelings or emotions you experience. When you emotionally eat, you can choose how you think of it, the meaning you attach to such event, how you treat yourself, and what you are going to do about it.
To some degree we are all emotional eaters, and disordered eaters, because that is the nature of the game. You and I can’t escape imperfection when it comes to eating or anything in life.
Each of us in our own way and our own time is searching for a nourishment that reflects who we are and how we wish to experience life.
Embrace all emotions in your life, and love the person having those emotions. You.
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