I hear this comment frequently from moms: “the problem is that I’m an emotional eater.”
What does this mean?
New moms spend a lot of time alone. Talk to any new mom and she will tell you how isolated and lonely she feels. I remember the time when meeting with my moms group was the highlight of my week! I’m sure you can relate.
When we only take care of a non-speaking baby, we end up having a lot of self-talk…and usually this self-talk is not the most positive one. These negative thoughts will fuel negative emotions. And negative emotions are not easy to handle. And this is when emotional eating comes into play.
Although emotional eating has become an all-too-common problem, many of us don't realize the extent to which our feelings can impact our eating habits.
Here are some questions to consider:
Do you find yourself eating when you're not really hungry?
Do you use food as a source of comfort when you're feeling sad, anxious, angry or bored?
The main issue with these emotions and their relationship to eating patterns is that they’re cyclical. When we eat because we’re sad, bored, scared, angry, anxious, or feeling as though we have to be perfect, we’ll often go straight into experiencing guilt and shame. And guess what? That guilt and shame just sends us back into feeling anxious, afraid, and angry which can cause us to cycle back into our poor eating habits. So, becoming aware of our emotions is an essential piece of regaining control.
So, how can you become aware of your emotions?
Stop holding back when you’re angry, sad, or worried. Holding back causes us to numb ourselves with things like poor food choices! It can be tough to gain more emotional awareness after covering your emotions up for so long. So, be gentle with yourself and the process.
The first step is to fight trigger foods. Many bouts of poor eating or overeating are caused by habit and eating trigger foods. A trigger food is a food you eat out of habit to deal with difficult emotions. We often go to these foods without thinking. The best techniques to cope with trigger foods is to rid your home of them completely, educate your family about how these foods affect you, and be mindful of what you eat.
When trigger foods won’t be available, you will be left with your feelings, and only your feelings. Now sit with them. Allow them to flow through you. Emotions only last 90 seconds, unless we keep fueling them with negative thoughts!
Sit with difficult emotions. Our society teaches us to run away from our emotions. In fact, emotions are often considered unacceptable, undesirable, and distasteful. That sort of attitude will just get in the way of your being able to fully feel and express your emotions. By actually “feeling,” you eliminate the common mistake of using poor food choices, overeating, and other addictive behaviors in place of actually feeling difficult emotions. You ARE capable of sitting with difficult emotions. It may not be easy, but you can do it! It’s like coping with a headache. Although taking an aspirin would make coping with the pain easier you are capable of coping without it!
Now, sitting with emotions doesn’t mean reacting to an emotion! We are used to react to our emotions, instead of only feeling them. But we are perfectly capable of feeling an emotion and decide not to react to it. Just feel it.
You might think “this sounds great but I don’t know how”.
Here is how: Tune into the physical sensations of your emotions. When you feel a weight in your chest and your arms feel heavy you’re probably experiencing sadness. When you feel tension in your shoulders and neck you’re probably feeling anger. Consider tracking your moods in a journal and what they feel like physically until you feel confident in your ability to identify how you’re feeling!
Learn to address your feelings. Talking with a coach can help you reconnect with how you’re feeling rather than numbing out with food or other bad habits! Working with a coach is a wonderful place to explore the reasons behind your emotional eating. To set up a free 20 min discovery session with me, see if one-on-one coaching is the next right step for you, CLICK HERE.