OVERCOMING EMOTIONAL EATING
I felt compelled to write about emotional eating and binge eating. It is something I have dealt with in the past and it took me so long to get a hold of. I feel really vulnerable writing about this but I hope it'll help you in some way.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL EATING?
Emotional eating is eating even though you are not physically hungry in an attempt to suppress certain uncomfortable emotions. For example you had a shitty day and decide to down a whole tub of ice cream. Or whenever you get stressed you get intense cravings for chips. If you eat a piece of cake because you consciously choose to do so and are fully present while eating it, it is not emotional eating. Emotional eating means eating in excess with the goal to numb yourself. At a certain point you don't even care anymore what you're eating, as long as it takes away the uncomfortable emotions you are feeling.
I can’t remember exactly when I got into the habit of emotional eating but it definitely reached its peak during high school. Each day when I’d get home from school, I’d go up to my room and eat everything in sight: brownies, chips, nutella sandwiches, you name it. I would eat these until I felt physically uncomfortable. At the time I didn’t realise what I was actually doing was suppressing my feelings with food. High school for me wasn’t exactly the most fun part of my life. I never felt like I fit in. Most of the relationships I made were rather superficial. At some point I even got along better with my teachers than my fellow students.
Let me paint you a picture of my high school self: really into my science classes, introverted, socially awkward, closed of and kind of a loner. I didn’t want to be this girl. I wanted to fit in and be liked by others. Every day I was confronted with the fact that I didn’t fit in. And as a teenager you want nothing more than to fit in. I didn’t know how to deal with these feelings, I didn’t know I had the power within me to change my situation, so I just numbed the emotional pain with one of the fastest-working, most socially acceptable drug: food. From the peak in my binge-eating disorder, it took me a solid three years to ditch the bad habit.
HERE'S WHAT I DID TO OVERCOME IT:
1. Know your triggers
What emotions trigger you the most? In what situations do you find yourself reaching for food to numb the existing pain or discomfort?
Mine are stress, overwhelm, worry and not feeling good enough about myself. The number one trigger for me during high school was low self-esteem. I was constantly beating myself up about not fitting in and being loved by others. Little did I realize how amazing I am, how worthy I am and all the talents that I have. This might sound like bragging to some, but I think it’s so important to realize how powerful you are as an individual and how amazingly beautiful, talented and worthy you are. The triggers that still linger up to day are stress, worry and overwhelm. In those scenarios my ego still tempts me with justifications eating more than I physically need. It’s these moments that it is really important that you figure out your ‘why’.
2. Why do you want to change?
Binge eating is a habit. There’s no baby in this world that binge eats. A baby cries when it’s hungry and stops eating when it’s satisfied. It’s that simple. Emotional eating is something that you have taught yourself or something that you’ve seen other people do and are mirroring it. This is amazing news because it means you can unlearn it! Is it easy? Heck no, especially when you’ve been doing it for years, like I had. Is it possible to unlearn? Heck yeah! So try to figure out why you want to change this habit? For me I wanted to change because I was tired of feeling disgusting after eating so much. I wanted to feel good within my own body. I wanted to feel healthy and energized. Not drowsy and weight down by all the food. Make sure your ‘Why’ is powerful enough and that it’s something that is coming from within you. Not outside of you. Don’t do it because your parents or boyfriend tells you to. Do it for you, because you want to feel amazing. Do it because you are worthy of feeling amazing.
3. Allow yourself to feel the emotions
For me this was one of the scariest parts. I was afraid that if I’d allow myself to feel anger or sadness there was going to be no end to it; I would get swallowed by the emotions. Emotions are like waves of the ocean. The come as quickly as they go as long as you allow the emotions to move through you. So next time you feel like emotional eating, stop and set a time for 5 minutes. That’s all I am asking, 5 minutes. Go sit somewhere quite and safe and close your eyes. And just sit. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling without labelling it. Don’t call it anger or sadness or whatever it is you’re feeling. Labelling and judging is the ego at work. Just sit with it and feel it. What I even like to say out loud is ‘I'm ready to whole heartedly feel you’. Then slowly start focussing on your breath. Deepen your breath with every inhale. If you feel awkward sitting in silence, put on some calming background music. After those 5 minutes are done, you’ll notice that you feel so much more at peace and centered.
4. Look for the deeper message
Our emotions usually hold a deeper message for us. Coming back to my high school experience, I wasn’t conscious yet of how much I was hating on myself, how much I was giving away my power to my ego and actually believing it. Why are you overeating?? Do you hate your job, your relationship, yourself??Emotions can guide us to a better version of us, but only if we allow them to. So get really honest with yourself on what is causing you to feel a certain way and take inspired action to change it. You have the power to change and redirect your life! Don’t wait for Monday or new years to better your life. You are sooo powerful. I don’t think we as humans understand how much power we have over our life. How deeply we can guide it and manifest our desires. Start believing in your own power. Quit your shitty job, go find a new boyfriend if he’s treating you like shit, make your dreams come true.
5. Take it day by day
Changing a habit takes time and courage. There will be days that you fall back into your old ways. But find the courage to always get back onto you feet. Like I said, it took me three years of falling and rising to get to where I am now. It is an on-going process and falling is part of it. The more you raise back up, the easier it gets. Each time you rebound, the period in between will become shorter and shorter.