It’s no secret that we all experience different emotions throughout a given day. For some, there might be more than others. Such emotions include anxiety, loneliness and sadness. Other more subtle emotions that often might lead you to turn to food include boredom and stress. One of the things that come up often in my work with my clients is how they deal with emotional eating.
Do you find yourself reaching into the food cabinets when difficult emotions arise? If you do, how do you feel after you eat the cookies, candy or whatever your “go to” mood fixer food is?
Deep down you know that food is not resolving the issue at hand, but you are still finding comfort even for a moment in the box of chocolates. But you know what? After you eat them, the original emotion you were trying to numb is still there plus the feelings of guilt and the physical discomfort of overeating.
- Acknowledge: The first thing you need to do is acknowledge that you turn to food to comfort negative feelings, even to numb the emotional pain you might be feeling.
- Commit: Commit to learning a new way. Before immediately turning to food, STOP and ask yourself what you are really feeling. If you can honestly say you are hungry, then by all means you should eat…. a well-balanced power snack or meal. But if you are being true to yourself and really want to help yourself, you won’t automatically say “I’m hungry”. Instead, you will think about what you are feeling and how you can comfort yourself without turning to food.
- Support: If you are unsure what emotion you are truly feeling, seek out support from a friend, counselor or therapist. Talking through your emotions instead of eating through them is an amazing feeling.
- Distract: No one wants to feel their feelings 24/7, that’s understandable. In these moments, distract yourself with an activity you enjoy doing. Make a list of non-food related activities that you can turn to in order to distract yourself during these times. Take a walk, do a puzzle, read a book, go for a ride etc. Figure out what works for you.
- Breath: There is power in pausing. Before you impulsively turn to food, pause and breath. Or count down from 10. It really helps to clear the mind and help you consciously decide on your next best step.
Feeding your emotions often means you are using food to fill a void in your life. Take the time to implement the above steps to find out what you are really hungry for. You’ll be happy you did!