A lot of people would describe themselves as emotional eaters. It has this negative shameful thing to it, like if we emotionally eat it must mean we can’t control ourselves and we’re failures. We get down on ourselves and feel guilty about if for days after.
What if I said it wasn’t a bad thing? Here is why you’re emotional eating is so good:
It’s not the problem. Emotional eating is the symptom. It’s the indicator that something greater is going on. You can use emotional eating as your signal that you to need to stop and check in with yourself.
It’s simple but it’s not always easy. I use to hate hearing/reading people say:
‘Before you eat ask yourself if you’re truly hungry.’
I would think:
‘Umm… as if that’s going to work when I’m stressed to the max with a packet of Tim Tams in my hand!’
That being said, it’s kind of where I’m heading here with this. But it’s not so much asking yourself ‘am I truly hungry?’, because you probably already know that you’re not. So this is the question I ask myself:
‘What am I trying not to feel?’
Boredom? Fear? Nervousness?
Normally the reason we want to eat is to push away things we don’t want to feel. But feelings will still be there after we have the chocolate cake. Along with maybe some added guilt if you’re feeling bad about pigging out.
If I have to make an uncomfortable phone call, for example, I’ll think by habit: ‘Hmm I’ll just quickly go have some peanut butter toast’. But now from practise I can stop and think: ‘Jess, what don’t you want to feel?’
- Feelings only last approximately 20 seconds.
- Feelings aren’t going to swallow you up into the ground.
- You are not your feelings! They are just things that move through you.
So next time you feel the urgent push to emotionally eat stop and ask yourself ‘what don’t I want to feel?’
Then thank yourself for having such a powerful and obvious indicator that something else is going on.