Let’s be real; we’re all emotional eaters with complex conditioning: genetic, biological, neurological, environmental, cultural etc. Whether you turn to food to sooth emotional discomfort, combat boredom, distract yourself, ease your stress, provide pleasure, rebel against yourself, to fill a void, I think we can all agree that when we’re emotionally eating, we are not in the present moment (eyes glazed over, lost in your thoughts, numb). Emotional eating is an addiction, and addictions are an external answer for an internal problem. You’re trying to change the way you feel, based on how you think it will make you feel. But does it?
It makes a lot more sense to turn to self care to regulate our emotions, starting with connecting to ourselves and addressing those feelings that are creating the internal storm. When you find yourself in a craving, ask yourself “What am I feeling?” Writing out our feelings is physiologically calming, and the act of writing helps pull things to our forefront that were hanging out in our subconscious. Once you’ve addressed what you’re feeling, ask yourself “What do I need to help me feel more resolved?” Maybe you’re seeking comfort, maybe reassurance, or hope, or perhaps pleasure. This questions helps us access our inner nurturing voice, exercising our ability to self-sooth. Whatever your answer, think of some other solutions that might bring those feelings you seek. This helps us build other go-to options, allowing us to make a better, self-nurturing choices in the future.
Still wanting to turn to comfort food? That’s OK, but note what you were hoping to gain by emotionally eating, and check in once you’re finished. Do you in fact feel better? Pay attention to this.
Be gentle with yourself, and remember that lasting changes take time and each time is an opportunity to try something different. Be patient and persistent. Acknowledge that deep seeded issues need to be addressed, and give yourself the time and resources to work through them. Eventually, instead of emotional eating, you may opt for a hot bath, gratitude journaling, affirmations, yoga, or maybe some breathing exercises. It’s also great trick with any type of craving to distract yourself for at least 15 minutes, often the craving will pass. Another idea is to practice oil pulling (swooshing oil around in your mouth for several minutes & then spitting it out, followed by a good tooth/tongue brushing). Oil pulling pulls bacteria and toxins from your mouth (even whitens teeth) and your mouth will feel so clean and fresh you wont want to spoil the feeling. Hopefully 🙂
It’s also helpful to have only the best foods on hand so if/when you do choose emotional eating, you’ll at least be ingesting nourishing foods vs nutritionally void options. If you’re looking for some ideas, check out these recipes:
If you have a trick you use for minimize emotional eating not mentioned here, I encourage you to share it in the comments!