What is Emotional Eating?

What is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is when a person turns to food to pacify feelings/emotions. Food becomes a comforter and friend, a role food was really never meant to have. Rather than eating because you’re physically hungry, you eat to regulate an emotional state.

Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, says this, “Any eating behavior primarily triggered by an emotional state can be called emotional eating. And it’s not just negative emotions. We can even emotionally eat when we’re excited and feeling good about ourselves, giving ourselves a reward, or just seeking new or favorite flavors just for the joy of eating.”

People are emotional beings, and everyone I know has had the experience of emotional eating. Why? Because it’s primal…

The moment a baby enters the world, they learn, “feel bad, eat food, feel better.” Food soothes, and this is learned at a very early age.

(And, by the way, there is no guilt or shame allowed around She Shines Wellness. So if you’re feeling any of that, let it go! Any time there is a challenge around food and body, we look at it through the eyes of curiosity and wonder, with a foundation in love…never from a place of self-degradation, bashing, or shame. Deal?)

When Emotional Eating Becomes a Problem

Emotional eating, in and of itself, isn’t a problem. It becomes a problem when someone consistently and perpetually uses food as an escape from processing emotions. They typically turn to high-sugar, high-fat comfort foods to deal with stress, anger, frustration, boredom, anxiety, or sadness.

Food replaces the true work that needs to happen in order to process through and release these emotions/feelings. It becomes a Band-aid. And, because a person is using food to pacify an emotional state, they typically aren’t listening to hunger and fullness cues, and they find themselves overstuffing and feeling uncomfortable after an emotional eating episode.

The feelings that you may experience during an emotional eating episode are satisfaction and comfort, but feelings that immediately follow an emotional eating episode are typically guilt, shame, frustration, anger, and depression.

And, then the whole cycle starts over again.

Shift the Paradigm

It’s time to re-think emotional eating. Instead of it being a problem to battle, an enemy to fight, a war to be won, see it as a wise teacher here to open up possibilities of a deeper relationship with self and God through healing, growth, and transformation. And, again, this time of learning and growth must be grounded in Truth and Christ.

Your job is to pray, invite God into your health and your relationship with food, listen to His guidance, and be open to the possibilities that come your way. And, this is big…ENJOY the adventure of creating a closer connection with yourself and your Creator.

Get to the Root

One thing I know for sure is that getting to the root of emotional eating is of utmost importance. Again, when food is used to pacify emotions, it may feel good in the moment, but it prevents us from going deeper and ACTUALLY addressing the emotions. And, if we don’t address the emotions so they can move through and out, they will get trapped and stuck in the body, only to be demanding attention again in the near future. And, again, the go-to will be comfort food.

For example, perhaps you’re feeling angry. Typically, you may turn to cookies or chips to take the edge off. Instead, dig deeper. WHY are you feeling angry?

What is it that’s creating that emotion of anger?

  • A particular relationship?
  • Work?
  • Traffic?
  • A messy house?
  • An unexpected bill?

Instead of turning to food in the moment of anger, breathe. Pinpoint EXACTLY what’s creating the emotion, and then address it. If it’s a messy house, what can you do to make it feel more peaceful and life-giving? If it’s a relationship, maybe it’s time for a deep conversation. Work? What exactly at work is making you experience anger? Address it! Traffic? Leave earlier or take a different route. Bills piling up? Create a game plan to get finances working for you instead of against you.

Get the idea?

Getting to the root is the key to releasing emotional eating. And, when you do get to the root, you will grow as a person, and clear space for new things and more vibrant health. Do you see what I mean when I say that emotional eating is a wise teacher? It’s actually helping you!

Your Turn

Are you an emotional eater? Head over to THIS POST to find out!

Then, get with God and talk to Him if you’re feeling like emotional eating is taking up too much of your brainspace and your life. Ask Him to reveal the root cause and then start the fun and exciting Adventure of growing and transforming!

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