Everyone emotionally eats sometimes

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A client told me yesterday that she needed to 'sort her food out'. She said she felt 'out of control.' And she told me said felt like she was reverting back to old habits of overeating, secret eating and wasn't able to make good food decisions at the moment. I told her that she wasn't out of control, she just needed to find out what was really going on. 

Firstly, I showed her how much judgement was held in her words. She was giving herself such a hard time and shaming herself for how she was eating. 

Humans are emotional creatures and sometimes you have to listen to what your body is telling you by your food choices. 

I explained that it's rarely ever about food, it's about the need UNDER the eating. What is it you're looking for within the food? The foods my client was labelling as 'bad' were: pasta, crisps and dips and chocolate. 

We broke it down that it was her old diet mentality making her see these foods as 'bad'. No food has a moral value. You are not a bad person for eating (even a family bag) of crisps with a pot of hummus. Hummus is delicious. 

Ditch diet mentality

Remember that diets, through their rules, lack ANY space for emotions. You are a living, breathing, FEELING complex creature and it's ok to want to seek comfort from eating. EATING IS ONE OF LIFE'S GREAT PLEASURES! When we fall of the diet wagon, we fall into a cycle of shame where we often continue to eat more of these 'forbidden' foods while telling ourselves we're a failure. 

Diet mentality is full of 'shoulds'. Should is the most subtle mean word, 'you shouldn't eat that' is automatically filled with shame. It says there's a right way and a wrong way to eat instead of simply listening to our bodies. The only thing you're doing when you label your food good and bad is to label yourself with the same brush. Diets make us think that if we can't control what we eat all the time then there must be something wrong with us. Well I call BS. 

The trick to managing any sort of feelings of 'being out of control' or emotional eating is to approach it with LOVE. 

After chatting with my client more, we discovered the real reason for her recent erratic eating. She told me that she was stressed in her job and also feeling lonely living on her own. Hello 'Aha' moment!  These are the issues to address... It's not about the food its about the needs not being met under the food. 

By the end of our session, we'd got three solid actions to help ease her stress, fill the void left by her housemate leaving and several ways to increase her self-love, self-care practices to get rid of the judgement she was putting on herself. 

She left in a much less judgemental space and was able to take back her feeling of control around food.

Nourish not punish 

Here are my tips on getting to the root of feeling out of control or conquering the need to emotional eat: 

1. ACKNOWLEDGE your feelings. Everyone emotionally eats sometimes. Are you sad, angry, depressed? What do you actually need? Is it a hug, to scream, to cry? Feel your feelings. It'll help.

2. STOP SHAMING YOURSELF: you are not a bad person or a failure for not drinking green smoothies all day long or for eating a family sized dairy milk. There are reasons behind the behaviour. Be kind.

3. ASSESS. What is it you're looking for from the food? Something sweet? warm? Are you wanting fullness?  Are you stressed out? Are you tired? Assessed the needs i.e. do you need comfort from another person, are you tired or stressed or are you rebelling from being so restrictive all the time?  This is where you take back the feeling of control. 

4. DITCH DIETS. They only fuck you up about food. Eat WHATEVER it is you fancy with permission. With time and practice (or with a coach like me) you can learn to eat only as much as you need and then stop. 

4. SAVOUR. Enjoy the food! Don't eat it in secret and try to listen to feelings of fullness. You can always eat more when you're next hungry.

4. ACTION: Write down three things that would go some way to meeting the need e.g. join a class or put in some stress-relieving measures like meditation, having a bath, going for a walk. 

Harri xxx


P S if you are using food regularly to suppress your feelings please seek professional help. There's nothing to be ashamed about. X