My number one top secret to beating emotional eating is this: I feel my feelings.
What is emotional eating anyway?
Think about it. We start to feel something, it feels big, uncomfortable and confronting. Be it stress, anxiety, fear, loneliness or anything else that makes us feel uneasy. So we push it away and distract ourselves with food. We instinctively think that physically filling ourselves will block out these feelings and satisfy our desire to be emotionally fulfilled.
But once the eating is over those feelings are still there, waiting to be let out.
At the height of my worst ever emotional eating phase I never let myself feel my feelings. I was 21, living in a new country and putting pressure on myself to have an amazing career. I was plagued with feelings of not being good enough, full of stress and forever worrying about the future. The only way I knew how to get rid of those feelings was to numb the pain with food. I didn’t really know I was doing it to numb my emotions, it was more of a urgent response when I started to feel something. I would literally panic once I had finished eating because I knew I would start feeling again.
If only I had known to just completely let go and feel it. Telling myself I wasn’t hungry didn’t work. I already knew I wasn’t! But I didn’t know why I was so panicked and out of control. The feelings that I was trying to push down wouldn’t last forever and they definitely wouldn’t swallow me up into the ground. They weren’t going to just magically go away either but I was too scared to allow them to be fully released.
It’s so important to let your emotions out. It is safe and very necessary.
So how do I feel it?
Sit with it, breath and just simply feel it coming up in your body, without any judgement. Acknowledge the feeling is there, remind yourself it’s just a temporary feeling and not who you are. Give yourself permission to cry, get angry, or whatever emotion comes. It is ok. Repeat to yourself: “I give myself permission to feel this fully and completely.” You’ll notice in less time than you thought that the feeling will fade away and you will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
I would love for you to try this next time you feel the urge to emotionally eat. It’s going to feel uncomfortable because you are not use to it. But give yourself the chance to try it and see what an amazing difference it makes.
Now I would love to hear from you in the comments below. What is your experience with emotional eating and can you recognise you were just running away from your feelings?