At our core, we are emotional beings, from our very first experiences as babies, food has been a demonstration of love. When a baby cries, mom picks her up, feeds her, and surrounds her with connection and love. So it’s natural when we aren’t feeling “good” to gravitate towards food as a pick-me-up. Food is nourishing and makes the brain happy, and it’s relatively inconsequential. (Unlike sex, drugs and alcohol, which are some of America’s finest coping mechanisms.)
Even though overeating or emotional eating isn’t necessarily healthy for our bodies, it is giving our heart what it desires in terms of comfort. In a lot of ways we’re taking good care of ourselves by indulging.
I know how easy it is to get stuck in the feelings of guilt and shame that drive you to try and out-exercise your overeating.. BUT, I encourage you to flip your perspective a bit and look at food as a form of caring for yourself.
At the same time, overeating and emotional eating are hardly the best solution to fill voids in our lives or manage stress. In order to choose differently, we have to understand what’s causing us to go to food for comfort to begin with. We have to uncover how we want to feel, figure out why we aren’t feeling that way, and decide what we can do about it.
When do you this, everything shifts.
For most of my clients, examining what they want to feel creates some resistance—it can seem inefficient, or unrelated. But the fact of the matter is that emotional eating IS psychological, so addressing the nutritional without addressing the psychological doesn’t resolve or mend or fix anything.
I know the diet industry has pushed the idea that hard work and willpower are the only way to feel good about yourself. But, when it comes to food, willpower only works for a little while. Eventually willpower will tire, your body won’t be getting what it needs nutritionally, your emotional needs will still be unfulfilled, and you’ll cave.
If you can understand and address the psychology of eating, you’re on your way to a long-term solution. If you understand your feelings—the voids you are trying to fill, the emotions you tie to food— it becomes much easier to shift your mindset rather than just muscling your way through the cravings.
Look at it this way, if you’re constantly thinking about food in terms of what is good or bad and what you can cannot eat, you perpetuate an obsession that causes stress, guilt, and shame. If your emotional space is taken up by those emotions, there’s no space to feel what you actually need to feel to be satisfied.
When you KNOW what you need to feel and you make decisions that are in line with what you need, you empower yourself to either choose food to make you feel that way or to choose something else.
Want to figure out how you want to feel?
I’m offering free emotions and eating assessments all summer long. Click here to book yours.