Many of us have a surface understanding of what emotional eating is. What we are missing is the deep explanation of what emotional eating truly is and what it’s here to teach us on our weight loss journeys. If you want to know the down and dirty truth without a side of guilt, frustration, and disappointment, then you are in the right place.
One of the most important skills I learned when losing my weight is to eat with awareness. When you are eating purely for an emotional reason as opposed to a physical reason it is almost always coming from a place of unawareness. Like a zombie you find yourself in the kitchen grabbing food out of the pantry, marching back to the couch and before you know it the bag of chips is gone. It feels like you weren’t even part of the process and that’s because you quite literally weren’t. When you bring awareness to the meal then you will be present during the eating experience and therefore you get to make choices as opposed to be driven by another force like a zombie.
It’s not about controlling everything in your life but allowing your body to drive you by being aware enough to listen and follow instructions for your own body intuition. Are you hungry? Do you want to eat? What do you want to eat? You will be able to answer these questions and then make different choices. You will also be able to notice when you are eating just to feed emotions and that is the first step.... awareness.
Even if you are eating for emotional reasons as opposed to physical if you bring relaxation to the meal it could have healing components. I am not suggesting to eat outside of hunger on a daily basis as this is extremely uncomfortable and not ideal for your body. I have found that there are instances where you aren’t very hungry but you’re not very full either. So you are in the in between state and you find yourself desiring to feed yourself for some emotional reason or another. At this point ask yourself what you want and if a food comes up try sitting down at the table, eating the food and enjoying it.
Eventually you will see that this is not the most effective technique to soothe your emotions. However, if you never allow yourself to try this technique and you have a belief that it would be helpful there is really only one way to find out and stifling it is not suggested. So you take on the emotional eating head on by allowing it to be a relaxing, healing experience. It won’t be long before you begin to make different decisions when you are feeling down.
Also, many people eat out of a stress response. Therefore, if you master relaxation during your meal times you will begin to feel relaxed overall which is the healing you were after in the first place. Relaxation allows you to slow down and process all those thoughts swirling around in your mind that drive you to “numb out” with food. If we remove the desire to be numb by feeling relaxed we eliminate the problem completely.
This is one of the most important tips for eliminating emotional eating. Obviously if we are feeling the need to stifle our emotions with food this can cause problems in our lives. Often times we stifle instead of express because we feel that going through the process of expressing our feelings and emotions is too difficult. This is not an excuse not do the work necessary in your life to live the most fulfilling life. You are being asked to step up and express yourself so you can not only have your ideal body, but also your ideal life. Isn’t it worth it?
Ask yourself what is the worst that could happen if you expressed your emotions? Once you get that down on paper, start journaling whatever pops in your head each day. I recommend writing letters to people telling them how you feel with no intention of ever giving it to them. If you have anger, scream it out in your car or sing it out in your home.
Do whatever it takes to allow this emotion to be expressed fully and unabashedly until it doesn’t feel the need to keep bubbling to the surface. The truth about emotional eating is that it’s a convenient excuse to avoid working through the feelings and emotions the universe is asking you to deal with in that moment. It’s time to gather up the courage and strength to live the most incredible life and it all starts with a decision to feel again.
One big misconception about emotional eating is that it’s this bad thing. Emotional eating can be a great thing depending on how it’s used. As mentioned previously, using emotional eating to numb out and avoid dealing with your problems is not helpful. However, testing your theory out in this way is helpful.
But let me be clear that every person on this planet emotionally eats. Food is emotional. Think about a dish your parents prepared for you when you were little. Every time you eat or see this food you will most likely feel something. Maybe love or warmth. There is something about chicken noodle soup when you are sick that just nourishes you on more than a physical level.
I believe it’s important for dieters to know that naturally thin people emotionally eat too. There is no reason to feel guilty if you find yourself practicing this technique. At this point, it might be the only tool in your tool bag, so you are doing the best you can with what you know. Many times, the guilt of emotional eating begins to drive the emotional eating and make it even worse. So let it go.
Nobody is perfect. So you did some emotional eating yesterday instead of dealing with your emotions. Shrug it off and file away the after effects and remember that next time you prefer to make a different decision. And if you forget next time, remind yourself again. Eventually you will get to a place where you feel ready to deal with your feelings and emotions in a way that is more effective and gets better results. This will happen effortlessly so there is no reason to push or force.
Now that you understand that food is emotional, it’s important you understand how this works. If we were just feeding ourselves on a physical level, overeating and binge eating wouldn’t exist, so let’s be clear that we eat for many reasons, not just hunger.
When we eat we are feeding more than just our stomachs, we are feeding our brains. And I am not talking about eating brain food. We are quite literally involving our brain the eating experience and it’s looking for more than just vitamins and minerals. Your brain is looking for: nourishment, pleasure, fulfillment and satisfaction. These are emotional components. If you are eating food that you don’t like you can still feed your stomach but you will never feed your brain, therefore you will constantly be driven to eat more to feed your brain fully.
It’s important to understand this component so you can make better choices when eating. It also allows you to relax around the ideal that emotional eating is a bad thing. Remember, we are all doing it and plenty of us don’t have a weight problem. Therefore, emotional eating does not have to equal weight gain. Use it to your advantage by always including pleasure and fulfilment in your meal times so that you feel physically fuller faster and emotionally full as well.
It’s ironic that most people who are taking the time to read this article would describe themselves as someone who loves food. Yet, almost every client I meet eats fast, without awareness and without love or appreciation. The truth is, if you love food, it’s time to slow down and really be with your food.
In order to create a healthy relationship with food where it gets to be food not something that you are using to check out of the present moment you must be moving slow enough to actually be in the present moment. Eating fast without love and care will only create a negative experience in and out of your body and it will keep you wanting more. It also doesn’t allow you to really be with your food because you are moving too fast to experience it, therefore you will abuse food or create negative beliefs around it.
Slow down... enjoy and experience food for what it really is. Something that is delicious, nutritious, and satisfying on many levels.
It’s easy to blame food for your weight. When you do this you create an emotionally charged relationship with food, and it’s not for the better. You will look at food as the enemy, create stories around what food is doing to your body, and worst of all you allow food to have this powerful energetic component that it does not have naturally.
When you want to eat ice cream, it’s just ice cream. It’s just some ingredient put together by someone else, packaged for you and placed in a store for you to purchase. It has no emotional charge, it has no negative energy.
Then you create a story around it. Ice cream is the devil, it creates weight gain, it’s the reason I look the way I do, etc. You create an emotional experience around ice cream, it’s just the innocent bystander. The good news is you can remove that emotional charge too.
It’s time to stop blaming food, remove the negative emotional charge and just eat. Allow it to simply be ingredients combined to create something you enjoy, it’s truly that simple.
When you eat slow, with awareness and relaxation, you get to be part of the eating experience in a way you may have never had before. You get to actually taste the food to decide if it’s something you really like or if you deserve something higher quality. You get to feel the pleasure and fulfillment so you feel full on all levels.
It’s truly a beautiful experience and you deserve to have a positive relationship with food. So if need be, write a letter to food telling it why you are angry and then let it go and make amends to start over. A new fresh approach!
One of the most dangerous emotions in our lives is worry. Worry is not spiritual. We were not created with worry and if we do feel worry it is absolutely not our highest self being expressed. It’s a fear based emotion and it’s a learned emotional pattern.
The last thing we want to do is combine this emotion with food. When you eat while worrying, whether it’s about what the food will do to our body or how we will pay our rent next week, we are creating a dangerous experience for our bodies.
Food is not here to soothe worry. Food can provide us with so many wonderful emotions, but it will never pay the rent. Therefore, allowing food to take place in this emotion will only create more worry, as the worry will turn on every bite we put in our mouth.
Worrying is attempting to predict something in the future. Instead of worrying that the food will cause weight gain, why don’t you create a better future for yourself? What if this food gets processed and eliminated?
If you are someone who worries often you want to begin investigating where you learned this useless emotion. You also want to immediately remove it from your meal times. You can worry after you eat, but it must wait.
Just as worry is not our highest self, either is stress. Stress can come from our external world but the really dangerous stress is the internal stress we bring on ourselves with our negative thoughts and beliefs.
Once again it doesn’t matter if the stress we feel is towards the food or our spouse, if it’s present in the meal, it will affect our digestion and metabolism. Plus it’s not the emotion our body is asking for in order to enjoy our food.
Stress usually comes from the past or the future, but never the present. One way to eliminate stress from your life and especially your meals is to practice living in the presence. In the present moment there are no problems. This allows you to sit down with the food and experience the positive emotions you are after when eating.
Stress is something that tends to show up in our lives no matter what. The best we can do is eliminate the internal stress we bring upon ourselves, pause it while we eat and allow external stress to be there but not cause emotional strain. This is how we practice presence and mastery over our lives.
If you are feeling depressed or anxious it’s easy to reach for food to soothe. It won’t take very long for you to realize that this doesn’t actually solve any problems. Emotions are good, even the ones that don’t feel great. It’s information for you to process, understand and heal.
When you feel the emotions you don’t want to feel instead of stifling them with food or any other technique, express them immediately. You will never be given more than you can handle, so just allow them to be there. It’s a great time to journal or talk it out with a friend. Create a safe environment for yourself where you can utilize these emotions for growth and life mastery.
Remember, there is a reason for them to be present with you, if you allow it to be expressed it will go away. Using food to stifle is giving food a job it doesn’t want and it creates a negative relationship with food. This is unfair to both food and you. Make this change in your life immediately and not only will you work through some emotions your eating experiences will completely transform for the better, so enjoy!
When you truly understand the dos and don’ts of emotional eating you get to make different choices. You get to enjoy eating and most importantly create an incredible life where food doesn’t control you and your emotions don’t control you. Focus on creating a relaxed, stress free and positive relationship with food and begin expressing your emotions freely. The transformation for both your body and life will be truly amazing and you give yourself the most important gift, more life.
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