Weigh This Instead!

Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

In Touch With the Voids?

“How many of us are gorging on Big Macs or worse because those foods, cheap and readily available, are filling a hole that everyday access to stunning beauty might more amply fill?” Washington Post Columnist Jennifer LaRue Huget

There are many reason why we (emotional eaters) turn to food.

Do you ever use food because you feel “empty”?  Are you consciously or unconsciously using food because your day-to-day life lacks beauty, or love, connection to friends, a significant other, or to a higher power? Do you turn to food because you feel there’s never enough peace of mind, time…or money to do what you want to do? 

If you habitually try to fill those voids with food, you might find value in this exercise:

Identify where you feel “a lack” in your life and make a list.  Create some time to brainstorm; deliberately find alternative, healthier, more interesting and fulfilling ways to address those voids. 

Here are two examples from my life…

Lately, I have been feeling a lack of SPACE in my house. Every kitchen cabinet, file cabinet, drawer and closet feels stuffed to me. Whenever I go to find something, I have to move something else out of the way. This is causing me some frustration and anxiety, especially when I can’t find something I need right then.  

So last week I made a decision to declutter my house…one small step at a time. I do not wish to embark on any major whole house or entire room projects right now. That feels too overwhelming. This weekend I started by simply going through two shelves of stationary and notecards (some I had bought, some were gifts, some came in the mail with requests for charitable donations, some dated back to high school and college. Oh My!). I made two boxes of the ones I liked best, packed up a big box of those I know my Mom will appreciate and use, and I recylced the rest. I now have empty shelves in my office closet!  It feels great!  Piece by piece, drawer by drawer, I pledge to continue to declutter my house and to create SPACE!  Space helps me breath! Space helps me feel calm.

A couple of weeks ago I got clear that I really needed some beauty in my life!  So I sent out an email to a bunch of friends and said I was planning an afternoon at the Cincinnati Art Museum, followed by dinner in Mt. Adams.  I had not been to the Art Museum in almost a decade and it has some amazing collections. My friend Mary was the only taker for the museum. She is a decorator and has an amazing eye, so I was very happy she wanted to join me. We had a lovely afternoon. As we were leaving the museum, we saw there was a wedding about to start; gorgeous floral arangements wheeled past us on carts. We rode down in an elevator with the caterer who was putting together this amazing wedding cake; a true work of art.  The bride in her Vera Wang-looking gown were bridal-magazine-cover stunning!  The young groom and his groomsmen were very handsome in their tuxodos and tails. It was an afternoon full of some expected and some unexpected beauty… and I had created it simply by initiating the plan.  After the museum, a couple of Mary’s friends and another friend of mine met us at the restaurant for dinner.  It was a beautiful day and I left the restaurant feeling filled-full in so many ways…not food related…

Willing to share some of your ideas for filling the “voids”.  Please Comment below…


Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in emotional and binge eating issues. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, Vice President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com


  1. Meg Spangler says

    Your posts are always so illuminating Ellen! Thanks for sharing your own experiences. This makes me think of two voids in my life. The first is fun!! It’s so easy to let the ‘shoulds’ and errand lists control my free time, but recently I’ve been making an effort to set up time to get together with girlfriends. It’s less about what we do and more about just connecting and laughing together.

    The other void I recognized recently is music. I love music of all sorts. So I decided to try listening to a favorite CD while setting my daily intentions. It’s a piano soloist and I was reminded how much I love to play the piano myself. Since then I’ve been making a concerted effort to play most days and it has really opened a new channel of enjoyment and spirituality for me.

    In both cases, these two things are now on my self-care list so I don’t forget to make time for them!!

  2. Ellen Shuman, Emotional Eating Coach; A Weigh Out says

    I’m so with you, Meg! Fun, girlfriends, laughter…three of the most important ways I nourish myself! When they’re lacking, I begin to feel a void and a longing…

  3. Rachel Becker says

    I am reader- I LOVE to read. For my birthday my husband bought me a Kindle and I am reading even more. Recently my husband’s schedule changed and I was going to have to spend 1/2 hour every morning sitting in my car waiting for my carpool to arrive. After stressing a bit I realized this challenge was actually an opportunity to fill a void- the parking lot for carpool backs up to the parking lot to my gym. Now I got in and walk the treadmill slowly (3 mph) and read the Kindle at the same time. I’ve found some great personal enhancement books that way and it is a great way to start the day!

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