I have an issue…a BIG issue…with emotional eating. I can almost pinpoint when I started doing it. They (whoever “they” are) say that emotional eating is often triggered by a traumatic event. Check! It’s taken me a long time to realize and admit that I’m an emotional eater. In fact, the admitting part has only recently occurred. But, now that I have owned up to it, I’m determined to make a lasting change!
I read an article about emotional eating and how to stop it. I just love how these folks make it sound so freakin’ easy. Just stop…um, yeah, that’s all it takes…*eye roll* After reading the article, and thinking about this for awhile, I’ve come up with my own variation of how I’m going to work on ending emotional eating for me. Here’s how I’m going to tackle it…
1. Recognize It
I’ve kinda caught myself doing this subconsciously now and it’s a strange feeling for me. I tend to eat, no matter the emotion, more when I’m bored or anxious. I’ve started noticing this – especially when I’m bored. It’s really bad at night when the hubs and I are sitting around watching our shows. I have a hard time sitting still most of the time so sitting there looking at the TV triggers me to want to eat something and I usually do. Here lately, I’ve been fighting the urge and guess what? I survived.
I need to find something to do with my hands while we’re watching TV so that I’m not bored. You’d think our shows would fill that void for me, but I’m the type of person who always has to be doing something. I’m not always productive but I’m constantly doing shit.
It’s so easy to shut our feelings up with food or whatever floats your boat. Feeling your feelings isn’t always pleasant, especially when you’re pissed off, heartbroken, or stressed out. Who wants to feel that?! I know I don’t. But, eating to shut down those feelings doesn’t actually shut them down.
One of the things I’m struggling with in therapy is that it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling. If you’re in a bad mood, for whatever reason, it’s okay as long as you’re taking steps to change your mood (without food!). I get really bitchy when I’m stressed out or worried and that’s when I go for the chips and cookies. I need to learn to recognize my feelings, feel them, and move the hell on.
3. Shut It Down
The only power food has is to sustain life. However, emotional eaters give food way more power than that. We attribute our feelings of happiness to food, when, in fact, food didn’t have a damn thing to do with it. It’s time to shut it down and stop giving food power it doesn’t have. You know those sweet treats that contain sugar that all us emotional eaters crave? That sugar is more addictive than heroin, making us want it more and more. Now, I’m not suggesting you, me or anyone else cut sugar…c’mon, we gotta live, but we do have to be careful with the amount of sugar we eat.
It’s time to associate healthy options with our brain’s reward system. That’s all emotional eating is anyway; it triggers the euphoric part of our brain, which is why we binge on certain foods…they make us feel better.
4. Find Healthy Ways to Cope
The one thing I learned last year when I dropped 60 pounds is that exercise is freakin’ phenomenal for boosting my mood. Yep, you read that right. I never thought I’d say that either but there it is. When I was in a bad mood, I would grab my ear buds and run it out. I actually felt better by the time I was finished.
You have to find what works for you; I know that exercise works for me. I just don’t like sweating so I make excuses for not doing it. Find something healthy that gives you the same feeling that chocolate cake gives you and do that instead of eat.
It’s time we stop allowing our emotions control us. We’re bigger than they are, dammit, and it’s high time we put them in their place! The next time you think about eating your emotions, try seeing yourself as a toddler throwing a tantrum. Would you give in to that? Hell no you wouldn’t. Don’t feed your emotions with crap (haha…check me out using puns); feed them with kindness, understanding, and some physical activity.