Emotional Eating: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (and what to do about it)

Do you turn to food when you're STRESSED, BORED, LONELY, ANGRY, TIRED... etc???

Emotional eating. It's a beast of a subject, isn't it? There are a lot of paths I could go down today to help you overcome your emotional eating patterns, but we'd probably be here all day. 
So, let me start by saying that I have a totally free course that walks you through emotional eating one step at a time. You identify the triggers causing the emotional eating and then take steps to heal that relationship with food. If you're interested in a deeper dive into emotional eating, CLICK THE BUTTON ABOVE. 

For today, I will be talking all about what emotional eating is, why it's not always a bad thing as we often think, and a few suggestions on what to look out for as well as how to deal with it. 

 

WHAT IS EMOTIONAL EATING?

The definition of emotional eating is eating when you're not biologically hungry. Pretty simple, huh? But, I want you to think about the last time you ate not because you were hungry but because of something else. 


This is the first thing we need to understand about emotional eating. It's not necessarily "bad" as we might classify it. 

 

In fact, think about going out for dessert with your girlfriends. You may have just eaten dinner, you may not be craving dessert tonight. Maybe you're tired or are just fine without feeling like you NEED dessert. But... it's an opportunity to get together with friends that you enjoy being around. So, you go out, enjoy a little dessert and feel fine afterward.


Or, maybe someone just brought in a delicious dish at work and although you're not biologically hungry, you've got to try it!


I know these scenarios sound simple, but they are a good example of times when it's just fine to eat when you're not biologically hungry. It's ok to experience emotions of wanting to enjoy life and live in the moment. And this is where we want to be in our relationship with food. Not feeling guilty about every morsel of food we put into our body, or not feeling worried about parties, events, or even a night out with friends because you're afraid you won't be able to control your appetite. Or, feeling safe at home enjoying a little dessert without overindulging. 
Emotional eating, or eating when we're not biologically hungry, is not an issue when we feel no feelings of guilt, frustration, failure, or just feelings of having no self-control. 


We run into problems when those negative thought processes start to creep in - and make us question every bite of food we consume... usually AFTER we consume it. Then we slowly begin to mistrust food more and more and subsequently mistrust ourselves around food. 


This is the kind of emotional eating I want to focus on now. The kind where food leaves you feeling defeated, out of control, and unfulfilled. 

 

FOOD IS NEUTRAL

Before I move on, I want to make it abundantly clear that there is one thing about food you must understand - and if you've watched any of my other videos, you know I repeat this statement over and over. "Food is neutral". This means that food has no power over you in any way shape or form. A "good" food does not have the power to make you a "good" person, just as eating or binging on a "bad" food does not make you a "bad" person. 


Food is a neutral part of life. It just is. But all too often we give it power over us in ways that can drag us down and make us feel dare I say weak, like a failure, or someone who doesn't have self-control or willpower. In fact, think of the last time you had these kinds of feelings after eating or binging on food. What words came up? I'm going to guess they probably weren't positive or uplifting in any way. 


So, now that we are beginning to understand that food is neutral, how do we stop letting it control our lives? How do we stop turning to food for comfort, self-worth, and anything else you allow food to be in your life?


Because I am in the business of trying to give you one small action step to work on in each video, training, or anything else I do, today is going to be no different. 

 

SLOW IT DOWN

I'm going to teach a simple principle that may seem too simple on the surface, but can be absolutely powerful when actually put into practice day after day. 


SLOW IT DOWN. 


Your cure for emotional eating is simply to SLOW IT DOWN. Let me explain. 


A large percentage of emotional eating is done rather mindlessly. You experience an emotion (whether or not you're aware of it at the time), you grab the first kind of food that will numb that emotion, and you go to town without really thinking about it. It's even possible that the food makes you feel better for a time, but you know that eventually, it really doesn't make you feel better in the long run. 


The first step in overcoming emotional eating is to be aware of what you're doing. Spend some time paying attention to the times you are most prone to emotionally eat. Is it when you're stressed, bored, hungry, angry, or anything else? Then, what kind of food do you gravitate toward in this situation? Does chocolate soothe a long stressful day? Do crunchy chips allow you to take your anger out on food? Just pay attention. That's it. If you want to, write down some of the most common scenarios you experience - it's very likely that you have repeat offenders. 


Now that you're aware of WHAT and WHEN you tend to emotionally eat, remember the simple phrase to SLOW IT DOWN. 


When the binge is about to happen, slow down. Even stop if necessary. Slow down and just think. It really is simple. And truthfully, it's not necessarily about the outcome, but the process. 
Take a minute to slow down and recognize that this is one of those common emotional eating episodes for you. Then ask yourself what emotion you are responding to. That's all. Just be aware. Slow it down and pay attention. 


When you're ready, and I mean when you're ready, you can then take action. Remember, healing your relationship with food is a PROCESS. A JOURNEY. It's taking one step at a time. 
If you're not ready to tackle the emotion, don't look at it as a failure. You've successfully identified a trigger for you. That's a huge first step! If that's as far as you get right now, celebrate it! Be proud of the fact that you noticed it before it happened. That's something to be proud of and an incredible first step. 


Then, when you've SLOWED IT DOWN a few times and feel ready to take action, the next question to ask yourself is, "how can I respond to this emotion?"


You've identified the emotion, you've slowed the process down, and now you're looking at it from a different perspective. By asking yourself this question, you're allowing food to become neutral in your life. You're reminding food that it doesn't have control over you or your emotions. 


Take a minute to mentally (and physically if necessary) remove yourself from the situation. Slow it down and ask yourself what will help you resolve that emotion that isn't by using food. Come up with 1 or 2 ideas. Then try them. 


This could be as simple as physically getting away from the food, taking a walk, a few deep breaths, or even calling someone to talk through it with you. 


It might take some time to learn how to deal with the emotion. And sometimes, you might still come back for the food. That's ok. It's not a bad or a good thing, it just is. You're learning. We're all learning. In fact, I've been teaching intuitive eating for many years and I'm STILL learning and working on it. 


But the key is that in order to feel like you are in control of your emotions you need to first be aware and then SLOW IT DOWN. Take the action that you need to soothe the emotion in a different way. Over time, you will find it becomes a more natural process (just like turning to food immediately is probably your natural process right now). 


And remember, be proud of even one simple step. 


And also remember that if you need more help with your emotional eating, you can take my free course that walks you through this process in much more depth allowing you to practice this concept often. CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW.