How To Gain Freedom From Emotional Eating

The battle with emotional eating and compulsive overeating is often wrought with self-defeating talk and shame. In a discussion with one of my clients the other day, we explored consequences. My client experiences health consequences when eating certain foods, yet it is never enough to change the pattern of emotional eating. We discussed the concept of shame and regret. The following day, a colleague of mine posted something breaking down the difference between shame and regret.

Regret- I made a mistake, but I will do something different next time

Shame- I am a mistake, so I may as well not try

If our food choices have consequences, we may very well experience both of these emotions, but which is going to get you toward your goal and which will keep you stuck? We often try to motivate ourselves with shame and guilt to create behavior change in emotional eating, but I would guarantee that it never works. At least not long term! More likely than not, shame keeps you stuck in the overeating cycle. If you have already messed up, why try to do anything different? You may as well keep eating to punish yourself, right? How well has that worked for you? Regret is a much more beneficial response. Although, I don’t like to view food choices in the form of a mistake because I think something can be learned from every experience if it doesn’t turn out the way you would like. However, I think it is possible to co-exist with food without either of these emotions. If you make eating a mindful process and think through the possible consequences and ultimately decide it is worth the outcome, you don’t have to feel any negative emotions about your decision. If you find that you still feel regret or shame, my guess is that you aren’t being as mindful as you think. Try this out in your meals and snacks today!

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.

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