The first thing that happens to us when we take our first breath on this wonderful planet is food. We’re immediately latched either on a breast or bottle. That’s the first moment we associate food with emotion. The strongest emotion of them all – love. We create a bond with whoever is the most important person in our tiny, cute lives in those first moments through feeding.
Therefore, to say eating is not emotional & shouldn’t be emotional is, at the very least, harsh.
After we find comfort in mommies’ boob or a bottle, emotional bonding through food goes on & on. Nobody can deny that.
Celebrating birthday, promotion, success, anything – feast it is.
Hot soup on a cold winter day? Comfort foods the second first leaves fall in September? Hot cup of tea and a piece of homemade cake while catching up with an old friend?
Christmas. New Year. Any other holiday.
Visiting your family after a long time?
Vacation in a new foreign land, trying out all the wonderful exotic foods?
Mom’s soup when we’re sick?
That meal that brings back your favorite childhood memories?
First date – dinner & a movie?
Food is so often connected with emotions. With comfort, with love, with belonging. Saying that emotional eating is bad & should be avoided at all cost is a bit foolish if you ask me.
I put emotions in every single bite I take – I put emotions in every meal I make and I eat it with these beautiful emotions as well. To say that’s somehow wrong feels foolish. It would be – if we were robots. But we’re not. And as long as we’re not, emotions will find their way to sneak into every aspect of our lives, including food.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Fighting against emotions that come up while we’re eating would be pointless.
WHEN IT ALL GOES TOO FAR
However, what if it goes a step further?
What if food becomes too important? What if life gets tough & we try to forget it through food? What if food is all we have? What if food is the only way we can handle life?
You see, that’s when mixing emotions & food becomes a problem.
Emotions, positive & negative are a part of life. We cannot avoid them, they’ll always be showing up.
All of us will for sure experience stress, anger, boredom, joy and all kinds of other emotions through our lives.
It is absolutely crucial to find a way to handle them without using food.
After all, when shit hits the fan & we eat our feelings until we just can’t anymore, we’ll only feel worse. Lets be honest, when’s the last time you felt like crap, then ate half of your pantry and felt better afterwards? I know my answer – never. Not even once.
Sure, stuffing ourselves can help us forget our emotions or make them STFU – for a moment , but the second we’re done, we realise we just made everything worse.
Because then we not only have emotion we had in the first place to deal with, but also guilt + all the crappiness of overeating.
Not a very self-loving move, don’t ya think? Not really helpful either.
In your food life there shouldn’t be any guilt, nor shame, nor feeling worse + crappy after eating.
Food is & should be a wonderful tool to fuel our bodies. Not a tool to handle our feelings.
What to do instead?
First step: Let go of the guilt
I’d suggest to start with letting go of the guilt for all the previous overeating experiences you had. This helps enormously because it boosts our self-love, firstly. Secondly, because you did your best. At all of these moments, you simply knew nothing better than to deal with feelings through food. It was your only way out. Only way you knew how to handle your emotions. Accept that & release any negative feelings attached to it.
You can take some time & visualize going back in time to visit your previous self while she was stuffing herself with a whole package of ice cream. Go there in your mind, think about how helpless she felt & how ice cream was her only friend at that moment.
Feel infinite compassion for yourself.
Hug her & tell her it’s all going to be fine. You’re going to take care of her from now on & she is not alone. She has you now & you’re going to do your very best to love her with all of your heart.
And then just forgive your previous self & release the shame, guilt or any other negative emotions you may feel because of your past coping mechanism.
Second step: Identify the real problem
Second step is identifying your emotions as they show up.
Next time you’re reaching for a bag of cookies, check in with yourself. Ask yourself what’s up.
If you feel that you’re hungry, do the only logical thing possible – eat.
On the other hand, if you recognize you’re not really hungry, identify what’s going on.
Are you bored? Sad? Mad? Excited? Are you trying to reward yourself with food? Worried?
Spend some time to really sit with your feelings, to know what exactly is going on inside your mind & why.
Check in with yourself to see what you really need. Because you were trying to get something you needed, but couldn’t get through the food.
Step three: Handle your emotions without food
From there on, you can consciously choose to handle the feelings you’ve identified through other actions.
Journal it out, take a walk, do some yoga, put on loud music & dance. Cuddle with your dog. Call a friend to talk. Hire a coach to help you & talk to you. Go for a swim. Play a video game. Watch a movie. Cry if needed. Get angry if needed – confront the person who’s bothering you. Stepping up for yourself is a huge part of self-love.
If you find that what you need is help with a hard task, ask for help. Sometimes we get stuck doing little things that are not in our zone of genius which can get extremely frustrating. It’s important to recognize when this happens & simply ask for help, instead of eating our way out.
As any other part of our self-love journey, discovering what works for you is the key.
Sometimes I feel like doing some yoga & it works great.
Other times I just want to lie down & watch a movie or read a book.
That’s why it’s so important to check in with ourselves as often as possible, to identify our real needs.
Don’t expect perfection. So many of us who experienced dieting-binging circle, do so party because we see the world black & white.
Either we do our diets (or life) perfectly of we screw up a tiny bit & then let everything fall apart.
Recognize when you’re falling in the perfection trap to be able to decide differently.
Everything we do to achieve food freedom + self-love is a process, a journey. It doesn’t have any perfect script attached to it & we all fall back sometimes, using food to deal with emotions. This is acceptable & normal. Especially if you’ve spent years coping with life through food, it’s hard to let go just like that.
But what we can do is aim for okay, instead of perfect.
You ate a bag of cookies before clicking live on Facebook because you were scared?
It’s okay. Acknowledge that, accept that this doesn’t make you a bad person & move on. Eliminate any kind of negative self-talk that could arise from this & turn it into something positive, like – Eating a bag of cookies because I was worried doesn’t make me a monster, it makes me a human. I improve every single day & I’m only getting mentally stronger. I love myself.
See how that feels much better right away?
I can’t even stress how important it is to be compassionate to yourself. It can change everything.
Perhaps this whole idea sounds overwhelming, but keep in mind self-love is adventure.
Take one simple step at a time.
If it feels you can’t do it alone, I’m right here – reach out & we’ll handle it together. It’s my deepest wish for everyone to stop food obsession & obsess about making dreams come true!
What’s stopping you from overcoming emotional eating?
When did you realisethis is a problem for you? How do you choose to be compassionate to yourself?
Let me know, I want to hear your story!
Lots of love,