Angela Olinger, M.T.
The core area of concern is not feeling powerless over emotional eating, it is feeling powerless over your emotions.
Most of us have experienced emotional eating in some point of our lives. We don’t always eat to support what our physical body needs — we feed our emotions. Eating when feeling certain emotions can replace the emotional void and create a false sense "fullness.”
Emotional hunger can never be satisfied with food. Emotional overeating can make you feel good; but afterwards, you are left with feelings of guilt, shame and powerlessness. Often the guilt may lead to circular dieting. Diets don’t fail because you have lack of willpower or control, they fail because your emotional needs are not being met. When we ignore these emotions, they continue many times with an unhealthy eating pattern.
The difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger
There is hope
The answers are within us if we dig deep to learn about what triggers us emotionally to eat for comfort. Ask yourself, "Am I feeling stressed or anxious? Is this a habit steaming back from childhood? Is my social environment affecting my choices? Am I feeling bored or empty inside?" Numbing yourself with food can help avoid emotions that may be uncomfortable to feel and acknowledge. Acknowledging what you are feeling and taking action steps will break the cycle that is no longer serving you. Acknowledging your feeling and taking steps to healing can give you a healthy feeling of empowerment and confidence. You deserve to feel great emotionally and physically. When your body is nurtured and supported, you’re better prepared for life’s inevitable curveballs. Exercise, sleep and healthy nutrition all can help to get you through times of stress leaving less trips to the fridge.
How to support yourself
- Finding a coach, mentor or counselor can help you discover your emotional eating patterns and root cause.
- Surround yourself with encouraging friends who share your values; leaving you feeling uplifted and supported.
- Show yourself love by doing activities you enjoy.
- Make time for yourself to decompress, journal and relax every day, even if its just five to 10 minutes.
Feel your feelings
Feeling your feelings is more effective than feeding them. Notice when you have the trigger to eat when you are not hungry. Take a few moments to pause and notice what emotion is coming up for you. Name the feeling without judgment. Is it boredom, anxiousness or loneliness? We feel to grow into ourselves, discover and grow. When you are able to name what your feeling is, you are able to work through it.
Our feelings are a beautiful transparent window into our interior world. They should not be buried with food or other fillers. They help us to uncover our fears, explore our desires, understand our frustrations and define what makes us happy. Find your happiness within.