Emotional eating is a hard habit to examine and change. Many of us who struggle with it have developed the behavior for just that reason: we don’t want to examine anything. We do it to cope with things we don’t want to think or feel. Coping with the ‘real problems’ in our lives sometimes seems too overwhelming; so distracting ourselves with worries about food and our weight can seem easier.
Something I’ve learned at Green Mountain is that ignoring the real issue doesn’t help. Turning to food hasn’t gotten me very far and I don’t know anyone who has solved their problems by eating. Food is not the issue, nor is it the solution. It only creates more stress and delays solving the real problems. So instead of reaching for some chocolate when my emotions get the best of me, I’ve been learning how to relax and deal with stress in other ways. For instance, to manage stress you can try physical activity like walks and dancing, taking a relaxing bubble bath, listening to calming music, reading a chapter or two of a good book, taking a nap, or meditating for a few minutes.
Also, I’ve learned how to ask the scary questions: What am I feeling? What do I really need? Do I need support?
So often eating took the place of asking those questions because I didn’t want to feel what I was feeling. As women, we often think we shouldn’t feel the way we do or we don’t deserve to take time out to think about how we feel. But getting to the root of those problem feelings by asking these self-nurturing questions is important to help stop emotional eating.
It is hard to admit when you feel things that aren’t fun. Stress, pain, sadness, loneliness… These feelings are not pleasant to feel nor will they be helped by food. Once the realization that food won’t help sinks in, it is easier to look for real solutions to problems and feelings. I’m finally starting to catch myself going through the process, finding out what I’m feeling and really need instead of seeking out food.
Are you tuned into what you really need, or do you often reach for food just because that’s what you’re used to doing?