- Figure Out if You Are an Emotional Eater Stuck in a Compulsive Eating Cycle.
Start paying attention to whether you have “FOOD THOUGHTS” whenever you’re stressed, or bored, or angry, or lonely, etc. Emotional eaters use food thoughts to distract themselves from uncomfortable feelings. The first step toward changing emotional eating patterns is to recognize “FOOD THOUGHTS” and overeating for what they are…ways to manage and regulate moods. Emotional Stress (or Distress) leads to “FOOD THOUGHTS” which leads to unhealthy eating.
- Begin to identify the factors that drive (and perpetuate) your emotional eating behaviors.
- Do you have difficulty tolerating feelings?
- Are you eating over stress at work?
- Are you afraid to say “no”?
- Are you afraid of confrontation?
- Are you in an unhealthy relationship?
- Are you afraid of emotional intimacy?
- Are you depressed?
- Are you lonely?
- Are you eating because you don’t have anything else to keep you occupied?
- Are you holding onto an unhealthy weight because you are afraid of being sexually attractive?
- Are you having trouble breaking away from a critical or controlling parent?
- Are you “in the dark” about why you overeat?
If you’re not sure why you overeat, you’re certainly not alone. Many people are not at all conscious of what’s driving the eating behaviors. Which makes perfect sense since the whole point of emotional eating is to keep our feelings out of our conscious awareness! Emotional eating works! At least for a little while…
- Stop Dieting!
Emotional eaters eat in an attempt to disconnect from feelings. So, when we diet, we just replace the “FOOD THOUGHTS” with “DIET THOUGHTS”. To manage mood, for however long the diet lasts, we obsess about the diet instead of obsessing about food. But it doesn’t work for long. The moment we “blow” the diet, we’re back to having “FOOD THOUGHTS”. For emotional eaters, dieting just delays the emotional and/or behavioral work that inevitably must be done in order for us to stop feeling out-of-control.
- Ask For Help. It’s O.K. To Ask For Help!
Making the shift from emotional eating to healthy eating is hard work! An emotional eater has to develop healthier coping strategies to deal with all the feelings that he or she is currently “stuffing down” with the food. Keep in mind that emotional eating happens on a continuum. Some people do it a little and some people do it a lot. If it’s a problem for you, there is no shame in asking for help.
Find A Professional Who “Gets It”
Hire a coach or a therapist who understands emotional eating. Interview them thoroughly. See if their understanding of emotional eating matches yours.