Updated: Mar 20, 2022
It's been a rough day at work and it's only 10 a.m. To blow off some steam, you sprint to the office kitchen to treat yourself (twice) to baked goods from the morning meeting. Later that afternoon, just to get away for a while, you wander down the hall to the #cafeteria vending machines. After dinner, still feeling #stressed, you seek out your favorite comfort food. Before you realize what's happening, you've eaten the entire container.
Sound familiar? You're not alone. It's perfectly normal to eat for reasons other than hunger. Truly, sometimes the best thing for hurt feelings is a #chocolate chip #cookie. And there's nothing wrong with eating two slices of grandma's #ApplePie just because it tastes so dam good, or lifting your spirits with ice cream when down in the dumps -once in a while. But when food becomes the go-to solution for soothing emotions on a regular basis, there's cause for concern - for a few reasons.
AVOIDING THE ISSUE
Eating when not hungry is usually a tactic to avoid dealing with an emotion. It could be anger, #anxiety, sadness, boredom - you name it. Eating to distract or comfort yourself may offer a temporary fix, but it won't make the emotion - or the underlying issue - go away. That's because the emotion is a signal that there's an issue that needs your attention, so the emotion will resurface again and again until you stop ignoring the issue and face it.
CREATING MORE ISSUES
Eating to avoid emotions/ issues on a regular basis can create more problems. If you're eating for reasons other than hunger, you're probably eating more than your body needs. Over time, #overeating can lead to unwanted weight gain which may cause even more distress.
FACING THE REAL ISSUE
The first step is awareness. For several days, pay attention to your #motivations for eating. When you feel like eating, notice your thoughts and feelings (consider writing them down). Are you feeling physical hunger cues (maybe it's growling or gnawing #stomach, headache, irritation, shakiness, or #fatigue) or are you feeling an emotion? If it's an emotion, what is it? Once you're aware of what you're really feeling, you can decide what to do about it. What is it that you really need? The trick is to not judge yourself. Whatever you're feeling is OK. What you decide to do about it is OK.
So, if you're hungry, eat. If you're not hungry, you can decide to eat anyway and that's OK - it's your choice. Or, you can ask yourself what you really need and how you can best meet that need. Maybe you're sad and realize that it's time to pursue that #hobby you've been interested in for a while.
To wrap it up, the three steps to breaking free from automatic #emotional eating are: awareness, not #judging, and providing rather than depriving, it's a process - in which there's no such thing as the right way or the wrong way to do it - and it takes practice. Keep at it. Becoming aware of your emotions, realizing that you're the expert in knowing what you need and that you're capable of fulfilling those needs will transform your life.