Emotional Eating: What is it telling us?
Emotional eating is often an unhealthy and uncomfortable attempt of trying to distract ourselves from facing something we deem as unpleasant. So often we overeat without realizing we may be trying to cover up some level of insecurity. We may also be using food as a means to avoid doing something. We may also use food at times to ward off feeling bored or unmotivated. At times we may use food to offer ourselves some level of comfort. We may also use food as a measure of reward—similar to what our parents did when we were young such as giving us ice-cream or popcorn after a ballgame. They may have also offered us a cookie for falling off of our bicycle, or given us snacks after school. On some level, we are still expecting to experience the same feelings or sensations as we received when we were children, which is why we continue to resort to food in an attempt to feel better. Much of our behaviors in regards to food are often related to our perception of food based on our childhood experiences.
If we took a moment to notice our thoughts as we are reaching for food, we would be surprised to discover some unrealized or subconscious motive. We may believe we need food in order to feel better. Whatever our beliefs are in relation to our food choices also includes some automatic behaviors. We have developed automatic behaviors as the result of conditioning ourselves as we have.
Often times we turn to food because we are sensing some sort of problem that we perceive as uncomfortable or prefer to avoid dealing with. What we may not see is that emotional eating creates an illusion of our fixing what is wrong; although technically the problem still remains after we snack or gorge because hunger wasn’t the real issue. Realistically whatever the problem is that we are trying to avoid, is more related to how we feel about what is going on around us or within us than our resorting to food because of hunger.
You may agree that when you are hungry, you eat differently. Typically when people are hungry, they are looking specifically for foods as nourishment and fulfillment. And then when people are full, they typically stop eating or walk away from the table. This is just the opposite when we are emotionally looking for satisfaction through food. Our looking to feel better by using food creates an entanglement; because we are replacing common sense with negative realities. Realistically food cannot fix an emotional situation. This perception points out a much bigger awareness.
We typically don’t comprehend that when we are looking for peace or resolution regarding some situation at work (perhaps other matter), and resort to eating a pint of Hagen Dazs, we are using food to distract ourselves from admitting we don’t like how we feel about the situation. More importantly we don’t know how to feel better and continue to react negatively. We may have wired up is that our eating Hagen Dazs ice-cream didn’t help us to feel better, so perhaps we should try something else, like potato chips or pretzels. Honestly sweet or salty foods are enjoyable snacks although aren’t capable of fixing any situation. When we are consumed with emotional eating, we are looking for happiness and security where it isn’t. Without realizing it, most of us has conditioned ourselves to keep trying what we believe should work, although we dislike admitting that we often come up empty handed or disappointed. So we try harder. Please see that we keep doing the same things and are expecting a different outcome. So the saying, “How we do anything, is how we do everything,” is showing us a much more important realization.
Let’s face the reality that food isn’t capable of fixing beliefs deeply submerged within our subconscious minds. Our emotional eating may be related to our eating at particular times throughout the day. We may be uncomfortable with particular people, dates, locations or other issues related to seasonality. We may see or sense someone as a threat and again we attempt to cover up our feeling unsafe by resorting to food. Emotional triggers may cause us to become reactive, agitated or panicky.
Most of us aren’t aware that our negative emotions or perceptions are running in the background of our mind. These perceptions will remain active until we confront the true source of what is bothering us. Making a decision to become aware of our automatic or emotional eating is a first step. Noticing what triggers us is probably easier to identify than the many ways we try to stuff down feeling bad and out of control. Trust you can shift your belief system from, “I can’t… to I can! Decide to positively resolve issues related to emotional overeating. Do plan to have an intention to enjoy the foods you are eating. Also, begin to focus on having a better relationship with food and your associations with food. Be patient with yourself, as reconditioning ourselves to respond in a different manner, does take some time. Eat foods that are healthy and satisfying. Schedule to eat at regular intervals so that you aren’t eating because of being ravenous. Make better decisions so that you can experience better outcomes.