When we struggle with emotional eating, we eat for many reasons. Most people identify stress and boredom (usually anxiety and/or loneliness coupled with difficulty being alone with our own thoughts). Have you ever noticed you eat when you are angry? Instead of voicing our discomfort, it seems easier to swallow it with food.
Why do we get angry? What is the function? All emotions have a purpose. Anger’s purpose is generally to protect ourselves. Anger arises when our boundaries have been crossed. Think about that for a moment. When you were last angry, what boundary was crossed and who crossed it? Did you realize it was a boundary before it was trampled? In an effort to be “nice” we avoid telling people about our boundaries. We struggle to tell people when they have upset us. Instead, we turn to food.
When we eat instead of voicing our concerns, we don’t solve the relationship problem. Instead, we end up in a shame spiral around food and resentment because our needs aren’t being met. How often have you opted for emotional eating instead of advocating to have your needs met? What are you worried will happen if you ask the people in your life to respect your boundaries?
Interestingly enough, clenching our jaw when we are angry is a throwback to our animal instincts. Food can easily become a way to take our our aggression. Eating in anger also feels good because it sets off our dopamine response. The problem is that it doesn’t solve the problem and often creates more. The bottom line is, if words don’t come out, food will likely go in.