I AM AN EMOTIONAL EATER!
My goodness, did I just admit that in public? I am guilty. Shame on me. What an awful person I am. What’s wrong with me? I can’t control myself and my emotions? I will never be able to lose weight! I need to hide, so no one will know what a weak woman I am… on and on…
Have you ever had that internal dialogue with yourself?
There is nothing wrong with you for being an emotional eater! We ARE emotional beings!
I would guesstimate that 95%+ of people on the planet are emotional eaters. We eat to celebrate special occasions. We eat as infants to satisfy our emotional as well as physical needs. We eat when we are sad, and when we are happy. We eat on first dates. We eat with friends and family, in good times and bad. So many emotions with so much food!
Our challenge isn’t with having emotions while eating. Our challenge is that we are not embracing and acknowledging the emotions. Instead, we feel anxious, out of control, and could even be punishing ourselves. What we really want is to view our food and the experience around it, in a wholesome and positive way to satisfy and/or complement those emotions.
Our society tends to LABEL habits we wish to change, as “problems” to be fixed. Ultimately, we feel judged, and then we proceed to judge ourselves.
(see my previous blog on: Are you Broken?)
How do we change this experience?
Step 1. – RELAX. Yes, sometimes the answer is so simple, we don’t want to believe it, accept it or do it! When we are having a very strong emotion, whether pain, sadness or even joy, our body can react in a way that triggers our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode). When our body does this, often, we will disconnect, and find ourselves in an auto response (which has also become a habitual response). Your “response” may result in eating foods voraciously, (even foods you may not even like), and you are literally and figuratively, filling up to “help” satisfy the emotion. Since your response was not thought out or even had the time to be acknowledged, it has not given you any satisfaction. Now, you have more and more food, (without a thought) which results in feeling physically uncomfortable (a nice way of saying ill) and you still have no “emotional” satisfaction, which is what you wanted in the first place. Yes, I have been there, many times over. Sadly, the emotional beat up that follows, is even worse.
When you interrupt the “habitual response” by relaxing your physical body with some deliberate breathing, stretching, lighting of candles, or any other type of relaxation method you prefer, (music is awesome as well) this will allow you a space to ask the question:
What would I really enjoy feasting on, since I am feeling so (fill in the blank)?
What foods, right now, would give me the love and warmth that I wish to obtain from that food? Do I even want food? Would I really like to go get a massage or have a bath? Aaaaah, I have so many choices that could feel awesome! By the way, there is NOTHING wrong with food being one of the choices! (wow, blasphemy alert 😊)
Step 2.- SLOW DOWN. Another very simple principle, that goes hand in hand with relaxing. (simple, but not always easy) How many times have you made an unwanted choice because you were rushed and stressed out? Food or otherwise! If we change the dialogue in our heads, to one that will sound like, “take your time and really be sure that you are satisfied”, then you will experience what you truly want. Eating fast is a habit, not a personality flaw (one habit that I must constantly remind myself to interrupt). I grew up eating with a family that spent very little time at the table. Dinner served, eat quickly, get the dishes done! But, I digress.
When you deliberately slow down, you will have much more satisfaction from “your” choice at this moment.
Remember, that each relaxed and slow moment, is a step in the right direction!
Step 4. – Plan a RITUAL. You have now made the conscious decision that you want a certain food or meal. Congratulations! Make it the most beautiful, artful, absolutely best meal that you can have right now! Pull out the best china (yes, even if you have chosen to eat your favorite pizza), light some candles, set the dinner table as if it were a romantic date (it IS – even if it’s with yourself!). Go get some flowers. Take 15 or 20 minutes minimum, to plan it out, as if you are having Oprah (or some other wonderful person) over as your guest! Lay out that perfect pizza, the favorite salad, your favorite dessert – and slowly and deliberately enjoy every single smell, bite, taste, texture, warmth or cold, as you are experiencing your emotion. Has the emotion shifted? No right or wrong answer here – no judgment – only curiosity and observation.
Step 5. – Love and Respect Yourself.
Be kind to yourself. Do not indulge in shame or hatred or remorse. Understand that there is no “wrong” in enjoying your food. What is crazy (and wrong), is to hate yourself for seeking pleasure in food, then not REALLY having the PLEASURE! As you emotionally eat with love and respect, for yourself AND for your body, a natural, gradual shift from unconscious habits to conscious choices will happen. Suddenly, you will intuitively be reaching for foods (as well as other choices) that will truly give you pleasure and make your body and soul FEEL FABULOUS!
Yes! I am a Proud Emotional Eater!
Do you want more help with changing unwanted habits with other women like yourself? Consider joining my FeelFab 3R Protocol program. Click here for information and for the next start dates.