Emotional eating is one of issues that my clients struggle with the most and to say that it is near and dear to my heart would be an understatement.
I myself spent years of my life using food to fill a void that cannot be filled with food. Intellectually we know… Internal emptiness cannot be filled with external substances. It is through my own healing journey with food and body combined with years of exploring this subject and working with hundreds of clients that has allowed me to come to some deeper conclusions around this topic.
First, I think it is important to explain my personal thoughts on emotional eating. I don’t think it’s truly realistic to entirely separate emotion from food. We are emotional beings and to think that we could ever treat eating food as an entirely mechanical act that should be totally devoid of emotion is quite ridiculous in my opinion.
Historically… we celebrate with food, we experience community with food and for many of us, our very first experience of feeling love is through food and nourishment. So, through this framework, we can allow and accept our feelings and emotions around food. I think the key here is to be able to be aware of our emotional reality, to be able to manage our emotional process and to be able to participate in conscious choosing when it comes to food. It is when our choices are mindless or unconscious and turn into unwanted habits that we may feel we need to reach out for support.
From my perspective there are usually 3 types of causes of unwanted eating behaviors.
1. emotional/psychological – some internal driver like anxiety, stress, fear, boredom, loneliness
2. chemical – an addiction to food substances like sugar that create a dopamine effect in the body
3. environmental/cultural – our environment (culture/society) creates pressure for us to consume more
The first step to healing an unwanted behavior is to become aware of what is causing it. We must first ask ourselves, “what are the reasons that I am engaging in this habit” “when do I find myself doing this?” and “why?”. Approaching the subject with a sense of curiosity can help remove the pressure and judgement that we so often self impose.
Once we have more clarity around the factors that are contributing to our own individual habits and reactions, we can begin to take steps to disentangle from the behavior and live in a more aware and intentional state of being. Journaling can be a very helpful tool in understanding any patterns you might be experiencing with food and lifestyle choices.
Above all, approach the subject with love and self-compassion. You are not alone and your perceived struggles with food and body are a doorway to a greater experience of life. You CAN have the relationship with food and body that you desire and I am here to help you if you need more support!
Sending love and light.