Let's face it, we all have been an emotional eater at different times in our life, but it's when we get stuck in the cycle for far too long when problems start to incur. Read on to get some helpful tips on how to put those emotions to good use instead of allowing them to lead you on a downward spiral.
As I look at the words above, "Learn to love yourself," I can't help but wonder why is it so hard for the majority of us to do this fully? We can give the best advice to a friend and say the most amazing things to them or even a stranger but yet our inner voice can be so cruel and judging. We critique every inch of our bodies, our minds, our job performance etc. and leave little room for positivity. In my humble opinion, I believe because the expectations we have for ourselves are so high that processing the outside world becomes overwhelming.
We as humans need to feel safe and loved and one way to feel safe might be in the comfort of food. We have evolved to know that food is readily available and therefore we instinctively
crave specific foods to feel safe and balanced. We tend to get caught up in the emotional cycle of overeating to feel better but then shame and punish ourselves for over-indulging. Here is the most important thing to take away from this entire blog: food and overeating isn't the root problem but a symptom of a LARGER problem. The larger problem obviously differs from one person to the next but usually it falls under the umbrella of childhood trauma, relationships, career, finances, and spirituality. When one or more of these areas is out of balance we look for ways to make us feel better. Overeating temporarily soothes us but then leads to more emotional blackmail. This is where applying new tools can help us understand why we are turning to food but also to love ourselves as well.
Changing the way we talk to ourselves is first and foremost! When we are turning to food for comfort we need to be more understanding. Our bodies know, instinctively, that big emotions have been triggered and we go into problem solving mode first. We might reach for food to help soothe us but in that moment we need to thank ourselves for knowing we need to feel safe. We also need to slow down to ask ourselves what that actual emotion is and what caused it. This is where an 'emotion journal' can help. When you feel that urge to reach for an unneeded snack or two, grab your journal and write down what just triggered that emotion and another way of dealing with it. I know walking around with a journal doesn't sound fun or even feasible sometimes. Grab the nearest piece of paper and try to work out what you are feeling. Food is NOT the enemy, we obviously need it to live. We just have to change that talk track in our mind and say how amazing food is and how it nourishes us. By slowing down and doing this talk you will be more apt to grab an apple vs a bag of chips. While you are munching on that apple (if you truly were hungry) continue to figure out what happened. If you and a friend just had words then digest it and come up with a plan on how you plan to deal with it. We live in such a FAST paced society that we never slow down and listen to our actual wants and needs. We just grab and go then run and hide when in reality having conversations within is the best way to feel calm and at peace. The more you choose self love over harsh tones you will slowly start to heal.
When you start to change the inner conversations around food, celebrate all the little adjustments you have made. Think of progress NOT perfection. We all know that no one is perfect so why should we hold ourselves to that life imprisonment. Keep going forward and soon you will find how much your positive talk changes all aspects of your life! So when you have those cravings, stop yourself and quickly jot down any situations that just happened or a memory that upset you. Acknowledge those feelings. Give them your time to process them and figure out a different plan of attack. Emotional eating is never truly about being hungry, it is a way to quickly stifle some uncomfortable feelings and not deal with them. The more you dig deep to find the root cause of why you are standing in the kitchen the more likely you won't actually grab the food. You will become so good at reading your emotions and truly develop the self-love relationship you deserve. Remember, when you are diving deep with your emotions it is imperative that you use loving words and positivity with yourself (*see examples below!). I know this sounds silly and like hocus pocus but it truly does work. It's like anything else, the more you practice the better you become.
(*I am safe, I am worthy, I am loved, I am a good person, I am exactly where I'm supposed to be, this too shall pass, I am one of a kind)