Have you ever casually walked by the kitchen and found the gravitational pull to overwhelming to resist?
As you mindlessly walk toward the refrigerator you swear it’s just to look around. After pulling out a few things, you promise yourself that you will have just a bite. Before you know it, it’s all gone—and now your so mad at yourself you say F**k it and do a deep dive into the cake too.
In truth, you are hungry for something. It’s just not food.
When we eat without true physical hunger we do it for one really big reason— there is something missing in our life either in a emotional or spiritual sense and we think it can be found in food. Click To Tweet
95 percent of diets fail because we are only looking at shedding the weight physically, not emotionally or spiritually.
I can explain. Let’s take a hypothetical woman named Jan who is obese and needs to lose weight for health reasons. She just had part of her stomach removed to limit the amount of food she can ingest. After the honeymoon period where she looses over 60 pounds is over, she begins to become depressed. This depression is sending her back to her old patterns and she is figuring out any way possible to get more food into her body to make her feel better (which it doesn’t). This causes more depression because she is starting to gain the weight back which, in turn makes her eat more. One year after her surgery she is back to her old weight again and feeling even worse than when she started.
How did she get there? Let’s go back in time for a minute because we all have a little of Jan in our psyche. The first time she experienced a negative emotion and realized a piece of cake (feel free to pick your food of choice; mine are brownies) made her feel better, her brain created a connection that said “Rejection/judgment/whatever the bad feeling is hurts less when I have cake.” She taught yourself that a cake was what would make it all better, and in the moment, it was a distraction to her true feelings. But it doesn’t heal the underlying wounds, it just makes them a little worse. As long as she mindlessly eats based on a false perception (that eating will make her feel better), she will perpetuate this negative pattern and stay trapped in bad habits no matter what. Stapling her stomach didn’t solve her weight situation because she never addressed the issue behind the eating.
Wellness is about looking at the body as a whole. Whenever one part of the mind, body and soul is out of balance, in this case it’s the physical weight, we need to look at where we are emotionally and spiritually heavy as well.
When we find ourselves mindlessly putting food in our mouths, we can observe our behavior and ask ourselves these important questions about why we are practicing emotional eating:
- Are we trying to feed our body or our soul?
- Are we craving love, acceptance, or happiness in food?
- Who are we serving?
- Is something going on in our life that needs to be addressed?
- Is this just a pattern of old habits that needs to be broken?
By becoming self aware, we can end the self loathing of constantly disappointing ourselves because we can’t keep the weight off. By bringing awareness and love to that hole in our heart that we have been filling up with food we can heal it, releasing the need to eat.
Sure it can take some time to uncover the real reason behind why we eat and for some, a little therapy would be really helpful too, but wouldn’t it be better to finally get that thing that you have been prisoner to for so many years off your back?
Remember every time you feel sad or angry that your instinct to reach for the comfort food is not an instinct that serves you well. It’s perpetuating the falsehood food will make it all better. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and you’ll start to realize that you can cope with your emotions by facing them head-on, not by eating them.
Thankfully, you can break the habit of emotional eating. It just takes practice to explore new ways to calm to soothe yourself. The goal is to rewire your brain using non-eating behaviors as comfort.
Follow these three easy steps and break up with emotional eating:
Step 1: Observe yourself like a scientist
Much like Jan, your emotional eating is so unconscious, it happens when you aren’t paying attention. Start observing when and where your eating is out of control. The office? Late at night? When you are alone? Are there any patterns that you notice? What are you feeling in that moment? This will help you identify why you are showing this behavior.
Step 2: Redirect
The easiest way to break a pattern is to interrupt it. If you notice you are running to the kitchen at night when you are alone make a plan to do something you enjoy in instead.There are many ways to calm yourself without calories, such as journaling, meditation techniques, connecting with others, self-message, distraction, guided imagery and ways to pamper your senses. You can also pick up the phone and phone a friend, or go for a walk. Once you’ve changed the patten and found something else you enjoy, the fridge won’t be as enticing.
Step 3: Practice
Try out these techniques when you aren’t craving food first so you get them down pat before you really need them. You don’t want to try something new in the middle of a crisis. Get used to your new skills so they will be the first thing you think of, not the last.