Has this ever happened to you – you just devoured a whole bag of chips and didn’t even realise when and why it happened?
If you self-soothe with food as a coping mechanism and your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re stressed, overwhelmed, lonely or exhausted, you may be stuck in an unhealthy cycle that you are not even aware of.
Food for thought
Emotional Eating is not about the food, it’s how you use food to comfort your emotions. Food has the power to temporarily alleviate stress and tiredness, enhance joy, and bring us comfort when we need it most. It’s no wonder experts estimate that 80% of overeating is triggered is triggered by our emotions, not physical hunger.
Emotional eaters are unable to differentiate hunger from the physiological state accompanying negative emotions. As a result, they respond by eating when experiencing negative emotions, whereas normally this would result in loss of appetite since emotions induce physiological changes similar to that of satiety.
Beliefs about food
The problem is that, many of us, have been taught very ineffective ways to self-soothe from a young age and to avoid things that feel uncomfortable. These ways are mainly about an escape (often with food) to avoid whatever is making you feel uncomfortable.
Ultimately, finding out the reason why you are filling up on your feelings and applying some ways to get out of that cycle will help you start eating with a sense of freedom, self-confidence and empowerment.
Let’s dive in and explore how you can stop turning to food for comfort and dissolve this struggle for good!
The 3 Essential Steps To Being A Happy, Emotion-Free Eater Are:
Step 1: Good Nutrition and Intuitive Eating
Learning to eat intuitively to suit your unique body type is the ultimate goal.
Most people must first deal with imbalanced hormones, which drive cravings for sugar, fat, salt, starch and comfort food. In some people, hunger signals are also imbalanced (always hungry, or never hungry) and this needs to be addressed, too.
Good nutrition builds a ‘cleaner’ body, and that sets you up to tune into the healthy signals your body is giving you. So instead of asking, “What should I be eating?” or “should I go on this new diet?” – you will know exactly how to fuel your body for steady energy, a healthy weight, a clear head and mental focus.
Step 2: Manage Your Mind
Your emotional eating and cravings are a window into your inner landscape.
By looking inward, you will understand who you are as a person and what your feelings actually mean. By looking at your emotional cravings from a symbolic point of view, you will find layers of insights as to what is imbalanced in your life.
Limiting beliefs are common in emotional eaters (e.g. “I need a chocolate to make me feel good”), and need to be dealt with, too.
Step 3: Structures and Rituals
Part of healthy eating is making sure your environment is set up to support you.
This means a bit of meal planning and preparation so you always have healthy food on hand. Being an emotional eater, you probably also have a lot of food-related rituals in your life, as a coping mechanism for difficult situations. Re-writing these rituals is the key to your long-term emotional freedom. It starts by understanding what triggers you, and rewiring that automatic response with a healthier response.
It’s never too late to make a positive change. You can find healthier ways to deal with your emotions, learn to eat mindfully and finally put a stop to emotional eating.
The Carousel would like to thank Irena Geller for her contribution.
Irena Geller is a coach, author and public speaker in the health and weight loss industry. Her expertise is shaped by her own 25-year battle with eating disorders, which eventually resulted in a massive mind-and-body transformation – namely shedding 50kgs over two years. Paired with qualifications in biomedical science, nutrition positive psychology, health and wellness coaching, and personal training, Irena is now a force to be reckoned with in the field.
Today, she specialises in helping smart, capable women (women with literally ‘too much on their plate’) dissolve their struggle with emotional eating. Using a 3-step science-proven program DownSizeMe, Irena inspires her clients to regain their personal power with new eating habits, self-care strategies and a confident mindset.
After 25 years of living with eating disorders in one form or another, Irena decided enough was enough. She tried every method, every therapy, every book on the subject. But nothing worked until she discovered the life-altering truth: the key to sustainable change is through the mind. She is a soon to be the published author of “Put Down Your Fork and Pick Up Your Life”.