Updated: Nov 26, 2021
Emotional eating isn't wrong or bad. I do it more often than I would like to. I say 'would like to' because, as you will soon discover, there are other things I'd rather be doing with my time and money.
Thankfully, emotional eating is a less frequent activity than when I lived with bulimia.
Put simply, emotional eating is eating to avoid being with a physical sensation in your body. The catch is that eating rarely resolves emotion & sensation and usually results in MORE emotions of guilt and shame.
What can emotional eating look like?
eating when you are in a rush, stressed, irritated, bored, sad, lonely, scared, angry or anxious
eating because someone offers you food (trying to please someone)
eating in places that aren't usually for eating i.e. the car
eating because other people are eating (self imposed "peer pressure")
On my recovery journey, I learnt how to be with the discomfort of being with those physical sensations or emotions. Frequently bringing awareness to my body’s sensations allowed me to understand how my body reacts to my environment.
Emotional hunger comes on quickly and is rarely satisfied by eating.
Physical hunger gradually increases and can be satisfied.
I’ll always remember the day I witnessed myself sitting at work, mid-afternoon, feeling the “cravings”. I knew I wasn’t hungry so I started to name & describe the sensations: an intense rush of pins, needles and butterflies across my chest. These are not hunger pains, YAY! After a few deep breaths, a realisation dawned on me - I was doubting my ability to do my work and I didn’t want to ask colleagues for assistance in case I looked like a liar (or less smart than I portrayed myself to be).
I was surprised by how the practise of taking deep breaths and allowing myself to feel the physical sensations in my body enabled me to free myself to ask people for assistance without the fear of being a liar or looking stupid. I started being authentic and in turn my productivity and job satisfication increased. Within 6 months of starting this practice I transitioned into a leadership role which is a role I had wanted for many years and was too doubtful of my age and experience.
So far, I've witnessed my body continuing to practise sensations and emotions all day long regardless of whether I want it to. Much like our brains practice thoughts all day. Now I get to choose who I want to create myself as whilst in the presence of my body's sensations.
I invite you to name your sensations and see what you discover about what's possible in your life if you could just let those sensations be.