It’s Friday night. You have no plans. You are sitting at home, flipping through Netflix and scrolling social media. You see your friends out for the night. Thoughts of…”Why wasn’t I invited?” and “She has such a fun life!” and “I am so bored and lonely” float through your mind. You get up, walk to the fridge, open it and stare. Then the freezer. Then the cupboard. You settle on some left over ice cream and two handfuls of chocolate chips. You settle back on the couch and keep scrolling until you are finally ready to call it a night and climb into bed.
Sound familiar? Have you ever had this sort of an experience? A lonely night leads to unintentional binge eating. Using food to numb your feelings. Food becomes your comfort. It fills the void. You don’t consciously think about it, but you know it’s true. When morning comes and you do think about it, you feel guilt from the action. You have been working so hard on your health and wellness, why did you do it? Why did you sabotage yourself?
Emotional eating is a struggle for many of us. Whether it was behaviors that were learned in childhood or came on as an adult, emotional eating is a hard habit to unlearn once you are in it. We would like to help you break the pattern and teach you some tricks to implement so you don’t eat your emotions.
FEEL THE FEELS
Whatever you are feeling…whether it’s stress, boredom, loneliness…feel the feelings! Acknowledge them. Let them wash over you and notice how you physically respond. Do you want to cry, laugh, scream? Do it! You have control over your emotions…not the other way around. But if you don’t allow yourself to feel them, how can you ever move past them? When you push your feelings way down, they are going to creep back up and manifest in ways that can be self-destructive to you or others. You are entitled to your feelings. So feel them…process them…and move on!
ACKNOWLEDGE THAT FOOD IS FUEL
Once you acknowledge that food is fuel and not love, comfort or joy, it is easier to SEE when you are emotionally eating. On that night when you are sitting home alone wishing you were out like your friends, you probably felt a slew of emotions. Anger, jealousy, comparison, self-doubt. If you acknowledge that you feel that way and that food is not going to make those go away, you will not emotionally eat. What else can you do to process your emotions and help yourself? There are many self-care techniques you can implement. Exercise is a great way to get out of your head and clear your mind. A warm, bubble bath and a good book is soothing and relaxing. Calling a friend or family member to share how you are feeling or just have a good laugh. Write in your journal to let it all out. Food is fuel to energize our bodies. Knowing that fact can be helpful when you realize that you are looking for a way to cope with an emotional experience and not emotionally eat.
HAVE GRACE WITH YOURSELF
If you have experienced emotional eating once, you are likely to do it again! We are imperfect beings. We make mistakes. We do things we wish we could take back. And that’s OK! The point is that you must learn from your experiences so you don’t repeat them again and again. If you do have a moment where you find yourself emotionally eating, ask yourself “why”? And then PUT DOWN THE FORK! Don’t beat yourself up! The fact that you recognized the emotional eating is cause to celebrate. This is progress. Even if you realize it an hour after or the next day, that’s a step in the right direction. If you make yourself feel worse for not being perfect, you are only going to perpetuate the cycle. Have grace and love yourself. You will make mistakes, so pick yourself up and move on Sister!
Emotionally eating is a sensitive topic and we want to support you the best ways possible. Let’s continue this conversation so we can learn from one another to stop this self-destructive behavior. Comment below what helps you process your emotions so you don’t eat empty calories you don’t intend to.