When it comes to weight loss, there is more to it than simply figuring out what to eat and what not to eat. It’s not about separating the “good” foods from the “bad” foods, like separating the wheat from the chaff. If you’ve followed me long enough, you know I don’t believe in such things. There are no good and bad foods. However, there is such a thing as emotional eating.
Emotional eating is when we overeat, not because we are hungry, but because we are using the feeling we get when we eat to mask negative feelings we want to avoid dealing with. So, if we’re feeling unloved or disrespected in our relationship, for example, we may eat an entire pint of ice cream rather than talk to the person, or make plans to exit the relationship.
Starting from when we are born, and we had a warm breast lodged into our mouths, as we were cuddled close to our mommies, we began to associate food with love, warmth, and comfort. As we got older, and we watched adults celebrate happy events with food, or we got a “reward” in the form of something sweet, we internalized the idea that food is happiness, love, and joy. On top of that, there is an associated pleasant physical feeling that comes with being full. So, the combination of the physical pleasantness with the emotional and psychological well-being, firmly imprints in our minds that food is a way to change and enhance how we feel.
However, the practical usefulness of food is to provide energy for the body and the mind. We need specific nutrients in order to maintain the complex balances in the mind/body system. When we downplay the practical use of food and, instead, use food as a type of drug in order to mitigate negative emotions, it becomes easy to abuse the blessing of food. Food then becomes, like any other drug, something that becomes unmanageable; something that begins to bring painful consequences instead of benefits; something that begins to alienate one’s self from others.
Anytime we use our emotions as an excuse to react, rather than as an invitation to go deeper within, we run the risk of causing problems to ourselves and others. Emotions are not bad. They are units of information. If you are feeling depressed, for example, because you feel unloved or disrespected in your primary relationship, that is a legitimate emotion. It is in invitation to look at the situation more closely. Have you been doing anything that, perhaps, made your partner feel unloved? Is there another way you can view your partner’s behavior that makes it less purposefully malicious? Is there a way you can talk to your partner that will invite him or her to consider your point of view? Or has the relationship run its course, and you need to start planning for a new life without this individual?
Taking a walk while pondering these deeper questions will put food in its proper perspective. Food will not provide the answer to any of these questions. Emotional eating can only be a temporary Band-Aid to make you feel better – as the problem continues to worsen. Better to use the anxiety, tension, and sadness as motivation to dig deep, and reach a higher level of connection to Source energy. Not only will you end up with more respect for yourself, you will have used a negative experience as a vehicle for your own personal evolution.
If you have issues around emotional eating that you would like to work through with a coach, please contact me for more information.
Peace and love always,