Ever considered emotional eating? You’re not alone. Almost every woman has eaten something out of emotion instead actual physical hunger at some point in their lives. So take a deep breathe – you’re human! But if you think emotional eating is holding you back from your healthiest self, there are super simple steps you can take to overcome these behaviour habits for good.
You know when you look down for another piece of chocolate and the whole block seems to have disappeared. Or perhaps it’s when you’ve made your childhood favourite and 1 bowl turns to 2 and then 3. It could be salad, it could be dried fruit, cake, chips… any food at all. You know that feeling, “I could just eat the thing!”.
This for you!
Warning – great, easy steps included!
Why emotional eating isn’t always a bad thing
There is this big taboo around emotional eating. Most people believe that it’s always bad. But there are two sides to emotional eating. After all, it’s rare that we can eat food and not feel anything.
Sometimes when you eat, you’re feeling love, or joy, or some other positive emotion. When you eat in these states, you’re more likely to feel connected with your food and your body. This is the healthy kind of emotional eating!
The downside of emotional eating is when you’re eating to cover up negative emotions. You’re emotionally eating because you’re disconnecting from your body and mind. That way, you don’t have to feel whatever you’re feeling for a short period of time. In Well School we call this; Instant gratification.
But this lack of feeling only lasts so long. Once the temporary relief fades, you most likely now have two different groups of negative (let’s now call this unhealthy)emotions. You’ll still feel whatever you felt before you ate emotionally, and now you’ll most likely also feel guilt, shame or similar about your emotional eating.
It’s important to understand why we have attachments to certain foods that we can’t NOT eat emotionally. But most importantly is you also want to learn how to catch yourself in the act, and focus on restoring that connection with yourself.
Signs that you might be emotionally eating
Not sure if you’re an emotional eater?
Here are a few signs that your food choices are being dictated by your feelings, and not in a healthy way!
- The sensation of ‘hunger’ comes on all of a sudden, and it feels like you need to eat straight away
- You continue eating even if you’re not hungry anymore, or the sensation of hunger doesn’t change once you are full. And you most likely don’t know what it’s like to feel a healthy full
- The hunger comes on when you are feeling bored, tired, lonely, sad, anxious or stressed
- You’re craving a specific food, often ‘junk food’. If you eat something different, you won’t feel the same satisfaction. Most common being: chocolate, chips, cake, or childhood fav’s
- You’re not present while you’re eating. Often, you’re not even aware of how much you’ve eaten, or how the food actually tasted you ate so fast
- After you’ve eaten, you feel guilty or ashamed about your eating behaviour and start self criticising.
3 Steps to Quit Emotional Eating for Good!
Ready to take back your control around food?
Here are the steps I recommend for letting your not-so-healthy emotional eating habits go – for good!
1. Stop calling yourself an emotional eater
When you call yourself an emotional eater, you’re identifying as one. And when you identify as one, you’ll embody that behaviour, because you’re telling yourself that is part of your identity. Like telling everyone your name is Sarah, when it’s Jane – eventually at some stage you’ll start embodying and believing that you are Jane.
As we’ve discussed, everyone emotionally eats from time to time. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a habit that is part of your being. It’s not the end of the world if you do emotionally eat on occasion. So let’s lose the label!
2. Acknowledge how you feel before you eat
If emotional eating is about ignoring or covering your emotions, let’s reverse that. Before you eat, take a few moments to acknowledge how you’re feeling. Say out loud to yourself, ‘Right now, I’m feeling (fill in the gap here)’.
This allows you to reconnect with yourself. The more present you are when you eat, the less likely you are to eat beyond your limits. You’re more likely to tap into what your body needs, instead of what your mind is using to escape it!
3. Give up diets!
It’s common to have habits like emotional eating go hand in hand with restrictive approaches to food. You know how it goes – you emotionally eat for a little too long, you feel guilty, and uncomfortable in your body soooo then you try to solve this by putting yourself on a diet to ‘control yourself’ around food for a period of time.
Then the diet ends, or you fall off the diet wagon. And because you’ve been restricting yourself, you dive into the nearest food that you respond emotionally to. And so the cycle continues.
Let me make this very clear. Dieting does not work! It is unsustainable, and it simply does not work with your body. That’s why I’m a huge advocate for undieting instead.
Undieting is about ditching restrictions, diet’s, meal plans and is 100% focused on simply tuning into your body’s needs and going with the flow of what your body is asking for on each day. This approach is life changing!! Not just for me, but for hundreds of women I’ve worked with too.
Start here: Address the Root Cause!
Addressing the root cause of emotional eating is a massive part of Well School. In fact, we spend an entire week diving into this exact topic.
Ready to let go of emotional eating and embrace a long-term approach to food and health, Well School is for you! Join our last round ever, February 2018!