Emotional eating is a habit that many people struggle with. It involves turning to food as a way of coping with difficult emotions. It can be triggered by stress, boredom, loneliness, or a range of other emotional states.
The women I work with started eating emotionally when they were children. A connection with food was formed early in life. Food became a friend for comfort, a reward for good behavior, a sign of prosperity, or a chance to rebel against the grown-ups who imposed food restrictions.
Food has been a thing for as long as they can remember.
The struggle continues for decades. Emotional eating patterns get reinforced for so long that women think they have no control with food. They can’t stop themselves from eating 12 cookies when they intended on having 2.
While I’ve never personally experienced a hypnotic trance, it’s how I describe the feeling of being stuck in an emotional eating cycle. It’s like being on autopilot with no way to override the setting. It feels like you've been swept up in a vicious storm, having no control to stop.
The reason you can’t stop emotional eating is because the underlying connection to food has never been healed.
Many people who struggle with emotional eating turn to diets as a way of addressing the issue, hoping that restricting their food intake or changing their eating habits will help them overcome the urge to eat when they are not physically hungry. However, diets rarely fix emotional eating, and here's why:
Diets are restrictive: Diets are often based on strict rules and limitations that can lead to feelings of deprivation and increase the likelihood of emotional eating. When you restrict certain foods or limit your overall food intake, your body may respond by craving those foods even more. This can trigger emotional eating episodes when you give in to those cravings, leading to feelings of guilt and shame.
Diets don't address the root cause of emotional eating: While diets may help you lose weight or change your eating habits, they don't address the root cause of your emotional eating. Without addressing the underlying root cause, you may continue to turn to food as a way of coping with difficult emotions, especially when the diet ends.
Diets can create a cycle of shame and self-blame: Diets can create a cycle of shame and self-blame that can make emotional eating worse. If you break your diet or have an emotional eating episode, you may feel guilty and blame yourself for not having enough willpower or discipline. This can lead to a negative cycle of self-criticism that can make emotional eating harder to overcome.
Diets can be unsustainable: Many diets are based on extreme or unsustainable changes to your eating habits, which can be difficult to maintain over the long term. When you inevitably slip back into old habits, you may feel like a failure and turn to emotional eating as a way of coping with those feelings.
So, if diets don't fix emotional eating, what does?
The key is to address the underlying connections to food and feelings that keep driving the habit of emotional eating.
This is my specialty as a Food & Body Confidence Coach. I help my clients identify and heal the root causes of emotional eating. Together we develop new strategies to reduce and break the cycle.
This involves learning to tune into your body's hunger signals and practicing mindful eating to help you distinguish between physical hunger and emotional hunger.
It involves understanding, accepting, and allowing your feelings, while developing healthy coping strategies for difficult emotions.
It also involves practicing self-compassion for a habit that’s been around for a long time and building self-trust that you can break the cycle, too.
Diets may seem like a quick fix for emotional eating, but they don't solve the problem. Developing a healthier relationship with food, your body, and your emotions, is how you overcome emotional eating for good.
I understand emotional eating, and I know how to break the cycle no matter how long you’ve been struggling. To get started, book a complimentary phone consultation with me. On that call I will share the steps to regain control, and how you can set yourself free.