Emotional eating is sneaky. It is easy to think, “just one more” or “it’s been a rough day, so I deserve this”. Our patterns with food often become ingrained early in our lives when food is our only way to find escape or relief from pain. The more we use it, the less pain we feel in the moment, but over time it becomes harder and harder to be present in our bodies and lives. We continue the cycle of fearing feeling our emotions, using food to escape them and then becoming more detached from the present experience. We beat ourselves up for ending up in this cycle and then we need more food to escape the shame. So, what is the one thing you can do to end emotional eating? Feel your emotions. Feel your emotions without trying to avoid or escape them.
Clearly, this is easier said than done! I’m sure you are thinking, “ok Captain Obvious, why didn’t I think of that?!”. After years of using food to escape our emotions we struggle to even identify what emotions we are feeling. To get there, we need to start by recognizing that, however uncomfortable they may be, emotions cannot hurt us. That warrants repeating. Emotions cannot hurt us. By acknowledging the emotions we feel, we allow ourselves to move through them. Using something like food to avoid the emotions, just prolongs the experience and adds other layers of discomfort.
To help the process of exploring and defeating these patterns, I created an e-course that addresses the components of helping you feel safe enough to experience your emotions. Check it out here: https://slweightcounseling.com/counseling-services-utah/online-counseling-sessions/
The process of allowing yourself to experience your emotions may take deeper trauma work. Often, present emotional experiences feel overwhelming because they trigger unresolved past pain. If that is the case for you, I would highly encourage working through the trauma with EMDR Therapy. Once you resolve underlying trauma, you can start to feel safe in your body and then experiencing emotions without fear becomes possible.