Most people struggle with emotional eating. More often than not, they probably have no idea they are eating for emotional reasons. Emotional eating becomes so habitual, we eventually turn off emotional cues before we even register them. Often, I will ask a new client what prompts their emotional eating episodes and they will say it is just mindless. Yes and no. It has become mindless because we have practiced the act so many times, we don’t need to think about it…..much like tying our shoes. Why does this happen? Why are we so scared of emotions? Emotional eating often has its roots in childhood. At some point, hard things happened and food may have been the only thing to make us feel better. In childhood, we lack control over so many things. Food becomes one way we can control our feelings. So, we start to learn that feeling uncomfortable emotions is scary. We avoid it at all cost. The more you learn about your own emotions, the less sense this makes. Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroanatomist who speaks about how the chemical reaction that takes place in our brain only lasts 90 seconds. When we truly attend to our emotions, acknowledge that the emotion is valid based on our experience and do something to release the emotional energy, our emotional experience doesn’t need to last much longer. Even giving ourselves space to identify the emotion decreases its intensity. It is only when we shut emotion down, avoid it, or shame ourselves for feeling it, that we experience prolonged distress. No emotion will last forever. However, the longer we avoid it, the longer it lasts. By learning skills to manage emotions effectively, addressing underlying connections to difficult emotional experiences and releasing emotional energy in a healthy way, you can absolutely stop the cycle of emotional eating.
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