Emotional Eating: Understanding Feelings


Emotional eating is a way to disconnect from our feelings.  Very often it isn’t a specific feeling we are afraid of, but just afraid to feel any feeling.

Here at Green Mountain at Fox Run, our women’s healthy weight retreat, we know that women often don’t know where to begin to understand the feelings that may lead them to eat.  I call the process of reconnecting with your feelings the Archaeological DigUsing your curiosity rather than judgement to explore what is going on underneath the eating is a way to start digging deeper into understanding your feelings.

Questions such as these might help you start your Archaeological Dig:

  • When was the first time you remember emotionally eating?
  • Do you remember what was going on?
  • What foods are you attracted to now? Are these foods you used in the past to cope?
  • What feelings were not ok for you to express in your  family of origin?

Daniel Goleman has written extensively about Emotional Intelligence. In his article Are Women More Emotionally Intelligent Than Men? he reports:

Emotional intelligence has four parts: self-awareness, managing our emotions, empathy, and social skill. There are many tests of emotional intelligence, and most seem to show that women tend to have an edge over men when it comes to these basic skills for a happy and successful life.

But even with higher emotional intelligence, women who use food to cut off from their feelings often have to do some digging  to understand the emotions that may be contributing to the urge to eat mindlessly.

What feeling leads you to emotionally eat most often?  If you don’t know, just guess.

2 responses to “Emotional Eating: Understanding Feelings”

  1. Top two feelings that lead me to emotionally eat: inadequacy and impotence.

  2. Darla says:

    Hi Karen, Inadequacy and impotence are intense feelings and ones that invite escape through eating and honestly, through other numbing behaviors. Adding self compassion is a powerful tool toward acknowledgment of those tender feelings. Good to hear from you. Thanks Darla

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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