Emotional Eater? Congratulations!
If you’ve been calling yourself an emotional eater I want you to stop right now. Chances are you’ve been buying into the classic definition of this label – a definition that implies weakness and deficiency. Its because of this that emotional eating gets a bad rap, and that millions of people struggle. This perspective leads to weight gain, low self-esteem, and shame, which leads to an even stronger desire to eat for comfort or stress release – it’s a vicious cycle that can become both a self-fulfilling prophecy and an excuse.
And what do we typically do about it? We try to “fix” it by pouring our energy into ineffective strategies like restrictive dieting and willpower. The trouble is, what you resist persists.
I’d like to suggest that the most powerful way to transform emotional eating may be to change your thinking around what it means. We are emotional beings! We bring emotion to everything we do, so why not eating? What if, instead of being an “emotional eater” by the old definition, you were simply someone who is learning about yourself and your needs through your relationship with food? Drop the disempowering label and you begin to reclaim your power around food, and your life. By changing your definition, you can learn to be come an emotional eater the RIGHT way!
Plus, when done correctly, eating emotionally can aid metabolism and weight loss. Food is meant to be one of life’s pleasures, a pleasure that you DESERVE to enjoy! And positive emotions create a state of relaxation in the body, which enables you to digest, metabolize and calorie burn at a higher level.
That said, here are three very simple strategies you can use to shift from “out-of-control” to “empowered” eater.
- Make eating fun. Choose one meal a day and set the table with nice linens and china. Turn off the TV and negative distractions. Instead, light a candle, play some music, make it pretty, and really savor the food. (Added bonus: awareness is also a powerful metabolism-booster!)
- Be curious. Cravings are clues as to what you may be missing in your life. Craving sweets? Perhaps you are feeling deprived of pleasure. Craving salty, crunchy snacks? Maybe frustration is building and you need to release some tension. Instead of defining yourself as weak and powerless, get curious around what it is you really need more (or less) of. Then take one step to meet that need in a more effective way.
- Embrace your feelings. Emotions can feel overwhelming, but they always pass. Even the painful ones move through when you acknowledge them. Start a journal to express your feelings in a safe place. Even just 5 minutes a day of journaling can reduce your urge to eat for emotional reasons.