What you need to know about Emotional eating
"When I was overeating, I ate for many reason.
I ate because I was sad, I ate because I was angry, I ate because I was happy.
I ate because I was bored.
I ate Because I was fat. I ate because I was skinny. I ate because I was terrified of being fat again. I ate in reaction to the pressures put on me by the society that had objectified me and reduced me to only a body, without feelings, wants, and desires.
I ate because I couldn't feel my own feelings other than to eat over them. I had spent most of my life running from them and I did not know how to stop running"_ Laurelee excerpt from "It's not about food".
Do you relate ?
We live in society where emotions are dangerous, and everyone is always supposed to be fine.
It is considered terribly weak not to be fine. I remember while growing up, my aunt shushing her daughter whenever she has an urge to feel something, my aunt would go 'what would the neighbors say '? In my family, it is was not accepted to be sad, 'show me your smile Ghada'.
How many times do we hear from our family members and friends words of advice 'don't feel bad', 'don't cry', 'it will be okay'.
How many times we try to sooth our children's feelings by rushing to make them feel better, without actually listening and acknowledging their feelings?
It took me some 20 years to understand that Feelings aren't something to fear, to be ashamed of, embarrassed about, or simply denied. Feelings are a sign that we are alive and we trying to figure it out . Feelings are messages if we do not express them, they go underneath and pop out in different ways and we act out in different forms of numbness and addiction: illness, alcoholism, rape, war, gambling, theft and of course eating disorders, overeating, under-eating.
What do you think would happen If children were taught how their anger and sadness sometimes signaled that their boundaries were being violated ? If children were taught to stand up for their themselves in healthy ways, would many of them would have learned that they have to stuff down anger with food ?
Emotional Eating is often triggered by some underlying and unexpressed emotions.
Emotional triggers could be something as simple as " I am bored at work", "I am procrastinating " or something really traumatic. Identifying these emotional triggers may certainly address your hidden deep 'needs' (I call them true hungers) and certainly the process of decoding emotional triggers and feeding your true hungers would alleviate emotional eating. In this case, You may need to stop and ask the following steps when decoding your emotional eating:
What am I feeling right now?
Am I Angry? Sad, Uncomfortable, Anxious, Frustrated, Joyful, Disgusted, Shocked, Ashamed, Lonely?
What do I need right now?
Distraction, Fun, Hugs, Support, Connection, Journaling Water, workout, Meditation, Relaxation, Sleep, Alone time, A walk, New perspective, Music
This type of emotional Eating "eating over feelings" is certainly harmful and require our attentive inquiry and support from others and professionals.
However, there is a whole other side of the spectrum of Emotional Eating. Eating for comfort and eating for sensory pleasure.
Food is biologically designed for pleasure, and we are conditioned since infancy to use food to connect to our emotions (enjoyment, self-soothing, celebrations, anniversaries…).
Most people tend to think of emotional eating as a bad thing, but there are times when it is completely normal and even okay. Finding comfort and pleasure in certain food is absolutely a part of healthier way of eating, actually satisfaction and pleasure are the driving forces that keep us eating intuitively and healthier only- when we make emotional eating "wrong", feel guilty about it, and when not turing to food as your primary or sole coping mechanism. When we make emotional eating wrong and fear potential weight gain, we often turn it into a full-blown binge. When we "make it wrong" research shows we get into restrictive mindset and behavior which triggers a full cycle of binge eating.
So where do you fall on this emotional eating spectrum?
Do you have a positive emotional relationship with food?
What are your dominant emotional triggers that sets off on an emotional Eating cycle ?
You can absolutely find ways to cope with the emotional triggers other than food, and really discover a new world of what you are truly hungry for , but you have to be able to take pleasure and satisfaction in food you choose without guilt in order to stop another cycle of binge eating; and to have a truly healthy relationship with food.
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