I’m an emotional person. Those are just some of the emotions that we feel throughout our lives. In fact, that list encompasses about a week!
How often do we go to food when we’re emotional? Me? A lot. Often. Too often.
I’m an emotional eater. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that for years I probably never ate when I was truly physically hungry because I never got there. If I didn’t break the cycle, I was in trouble. But how?
Well, everyone has their own tools that they use. I joined Weight Watchers, but I had done that before and I didn’t break the cycle. I can’t say for sure that the cycle is broken, but now I do certain things to keep the damage minimal.
The first thing I do is recognize what I’m doing and own it. I have to say that this is the most difficult. Most of the time this behavior is so unconscious. I remember when my son received his first letter telling him that he didn’t get in to a certain graduate school. I was so upset and found myself in the pantry with pretzels, opened the bag and realized – what am I doing? Disclosure: although I realized what I was doing (after asking myself) I chose to continue doing it and ate a half a bag of pretzels. I felt lousy.
This brings me to the second thing I do – forgive myself. I’m human. I’m not perfect. That behavior is common and I’m not morally wrong for doing it. I’m just plain human. Forgiving myself, I found, is easier once I was told that food isn’t moral (unless you’re stealing it.) Sure there are times we say, “I can’t believe I just blew it like that!” or “I’m just meant to be fat if I can’t stay away from chips for every little thing.” These statements do no good and, unfortunately, we listen to them. So forgive and stop talking like that!
Now sometimes, when I’m really in tune, the third step is talking to myself. “Will this food stop this feeling?” “Will broccoli serve *this* hunger?” (Yeah, right!) Food is good – but when we eat emotionally, we get almost no pleasure from it. The pleasure we get, if any, is from the act of eating and that’s momentary because really we’re trying to mask the emotion.
So that brings us to the fourth – and most important thing to do about emotions. Feel them. For goodness sake we NEED to be emotional! Feel the emotions – go THROUGH them, not around them. We have learned through YEARS of emotional eating that we can’t stop the emotions. So why bother?
I’m an emotional eater. I will be – always. It’s how I’m built. So I have to minimize and those are my tools. Hope they help.
We don’t know true joy until we feel sadness. Emotions are what make life worth living! Live them. Just don’t eat them.