Three Simple Ways to End Emotional Eating
Food is not your friend – although many people (mainly women) turn to food for comfort in times of stress and difficult emotions. I struggled with emotional eating for most of my life and it's probably the biggest challenge I've had to overcome.
I started turning to food for comfort before I even turned 10. I had strong emotions which I didn’t know how to handle.
My parents didn’t really know how to deal with me and my outbursts of anger would push other kids away so I didn’t have any friends either. I always thought it was because of my weight when really it was my behaviour that turned them off.
I’ve now heard of the term super-feeler to describe children that have a difficult time processing emotions.
Anyway, I would eat because at the time it was the only thing I could do to feel better. I felt like no one understood me or cared about me.
I would mainly eat when I was lonely and depressed. I could eat even if I wasn't hungry and quite honestly eating became an addiction.
There were many times when I just could not stop myself - no matter how much I wanted to.
But, I’ve learned coping techniques and other ways to handle my emotions over the past few years, instead of turning to food. Here are the top three:
Number 1: Breathing
I used to suffer from terrible anxiety. I was never taught how to handle my emotions, but it’s a skill I've learned over the years.
Dealing with our negative emotions is tough because we just want to feel better.
I discovered that the simple act of breathing helped calm me down during a particularly bad time of my life. While most people take breathing for granted, I literally had to force myself to breathe because when I was upset I would hold my breath.
Once I realized that breathing helped to calm me down, I would also force myself to think of something positive to get my mind off of what was upsetting me.
At the time, all that I could think of were my two daughters and I would repeat their names over and over in my mind while focusing on my breath until I calmed down.
Number 2: Journal
Having someone to confide in and talk to when we’re upset is great. But sometimes, even when we do have someone to talk to, they usually start trying to solve our problem instead of just listening to us.
Or worse, they start talking about themselves!
This is when journalling comes in handy – because the pages can’t talk back! Journalling allows you to get your emotions out instead of keeping them bottled up inside in a way that helps you to fully explore them without involving anyone else.
Number 3: Self-Love
I eventually realized that turning to food for comfort is actually a form of self-harm, and I know that whenever I would binge on food when I was upset it actually made me feel worse...because I would feel bad about eating. Of course it didn’t help with my weight issues either!
Learning to love yourself is also important for healthy relationships because if you don’t love yourself, you won’t feel worthy of love from others and will find ways to sabotage any relationships you do have.
The biggest lesson I've learned from my struggle with emotional eating is that no amount of food in the world could feed that empty feeling I had inside.
If you suffer from extreme emotional eating, please seek out professional help. Geneen Roth has also written several books on the issue after overcoming her own struggle with emotional eating.
If you feel that your weight is becoming an issue because of your eating, I would love to help you.