Do you take solace in food as a source of comfort, stress busting or as a reward, only to regret it soon after?
If you are using food to fill the empty spaces in your life, then you are probably stuck in the cycle of emotional eating because you’re not wanting to experience your emotions .
Let’s dive in and explore the reasons why this may be happening.
For some women, food has become a physical way to stuff down emotional frustrations like anger and deal with intolerable emotions.
You may find yourself repeating this cycle during times of high stress and rewarding with comfort food filled with sugar and simple carbs.
This helps to soothe emotions by triggering the release of serotonin, the feel-good hormone , but only temporarily.
And usually leads to guilt, often starting a cycle of food addiction.
Although numbing out with food, what is often referred to as emotional eating is a fairly common problem, most of us don’t realize how strongly our feelings can impact our eating habits.
Reward and Gratification
Food is a potent natural reward and food intake is a complex process.
Reward and gratification associated with food consumption leads to dopamine (DA) production, which in turn activates reward and pleasure centers in the brain.
An individual will repeatedly eat a particular food to experience this positive feeling of gratification. This type of repetitive behavior of food intake leads to the activation of brain reward pathways that eventually overrides other signals of satiety and hunger.
Thus, a gratification habit through a favorable food leads to overeating and weight gain.
Eating Your Feelings
Do you regularly find yourself eating for reasons besides satisfying physical hunger itself?
You see, your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings about love, fear, anger, meaning and how you feel about yourself.
And there’s a whole brain science behind what drives people to comfort eat and there’s a psychology to that relationship.
A powerful connection exists between feeling and feeding that, if damaged, may lead to one relying on food for emotional support, rather than seeking authentic happiness.
What is emotional eating?
Emotional eating is longing for something, to make you feel better – you may have a void in your life or feel stressed, and you are filling it with food.
And is the result of emotion triggers and unresolved issues that need addressing.
The problem is that Emotional Eating leads to Overeating – these are learned habits that have served you behavioural patterns that can be eradicated once you learn a few simple-actionable-steps.
My experience with numbing out with food began at a tender age of 11. Whenever I’d feel anxious or upset, I’d go to the fridge or the pantry, bring out chips, cookies and ice-cream and eat at a ferocious pace (for ten or twenty blissful minutes).
Afterwards, I’d feel guilty and angry with myself. I’d swear that I would never do it again. But then I’d find myself doing it again, a couple of nights later.
This continued for many years and turned into an escape habit …I couldn’t see that my cravings were actually signs of emotional distress that needed addressing.
I was able to take control of my eating and mind when I started addressing my emotional needs and taking care of them without turning to food.
I have learned about how to manage my emotional life and to deal with anxiety, to deal with frustration, to deal with emotions without eating.
The most reliable way to change this behaviour is by not changing your entire life.
If you try to change everything all at once, you will quickly find yourself pulled back into the same patterns as before.
But if you merely focus on changing this specific habit and work on it until it becomes part of your normal day, you will find your life changes naturally as a side effect.
Here are my 3 favourite Ways to Manage Emotions Without Reaching for Food
1.Journal to Replace the Need for Food.
I used to comfort eat because I didn’t know any other way to manage my emotions and soothe myself
What really helped me out was journaling.
Journaling allows you to clarify and explore your thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge helps you to verbalise your feelings by writing them down.
It can be of use in the moment that are you feeling distressed and about to turn to food.
- Instead, you can pull out your pen and your note pad and you journal on the following prompt: “What am I feeling right now?”
- Put a name to your feeling and write it down.
- Just let your pen do the writing, don’t stop to edit, just write what you are feeling in that very moment.
By writing down your feelings, you’re becoming more mindful and aware which is the first step in managing emotional eating.
2.Walk It Out
Change your mental state by changing your physical state.
Your mind and body are intimately connected. And while your brain is the master control system for your body’s movement, the way you move can also affect the way you think and feel.
By “walking it out “- you can move through those emotions, that emotion in your body.
As you move you will begin to feel better because the happy chemicals will be released.
- You can do this at home outside or in the office
- Put on your favourite song and start moving
- Move to your own pace and for however long you feel like
- I recommend at least 5 minutes
3. Ride the Wave of Emotion
“Riding the Wave” encourages you to experience your emotions like waves in the ocean.
“Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf.” ― Jonatan Mårtensson
If you allow yourself to sit with whatever you are feeling, you’ll find- just like a wave-it will pass.
Here’s a brief exercise you can do to explore this technique and Watch this video to help you.
• Picture your emotion as a wave and you are the surfer
• Ride the wave
• Relax into the feeling
• Have the confidence that it won’t last forever
• Feel the surge
• Wait for the ebb, stay on top and keep your balance
Your emotion will quickly subside to froth on the sand.
You’ll find that, with practice, urges will become easier to ride out. You may even start to feel a sense of pride or accomplishment as you successfully surf urges and act according to your values, instead of according to your urges.
Where to from here?
It is absolutely possible to break free of emotional eating. But changing your relationship with food requires more than just the desire to do so. You must be ready to respect yourself enough to get the help you need.
For me, the turning point to unravelling years of emotional eating was letting go of thinking I had to do it alone, and that I had failed in life.
In any area of life, whether it’s learning to play the piano, building a business, or dealing with emotional eating, you get the best result with a well-thought strategy, support, and professional help.
Now it’s over to you…
- How would you feel if were able to stop emotional eating and develop a more powerful mindset?
- What would that mean to you?
If you feel ready to change your relationship with food and yourself let’s chat..
Its free and it may change your life.
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🍓Food & Mood 😃 Coach