Emotional Eating Does Not Make You a Loser
((But it will keep you from losing weight))By: Melissa McCreery, PhD
My guess is that emotional eating haunts most women who are struggling with weight loss. It’s a major cause of diet failure (although we all know diets don’t really work anyway) and a huge contributor to weight gain.
Stress eating, anxiety eating, boredom eating, frustration eating. Eating to soothe yourself, calm yourself, distract yourself or cheer yourself up—these are all forms of emotional eating.
In a world where everything seems to move faster and faster and the demands and the to-dos just keep coming, it’s simply too easy to turn to food to try to take care of ourselves. It’s quick, it’s everywhere (it seems), we can shovel it in while we are doing all the other things we need to do, and we don’t have to step on anyone’s toes to grab a quick bite (or two or three).
Most women who struggle with emotional eating also feel frustrated with themselves about it. Emotional eating erodes self esteem. Many women feel shame or guilt. They blast themselves with the belief that overeating is “an easy way out” and call themselves lazy or stupid or losers. They retaliate by “starting over” and telling themselves that this time they will push harder, be stricter, and find success.
Guess what? It rarely works and it often makes things worse.
Emotional eating is not a battle that is won (permanently) by willpower alone. Sure, we can all “white knuckle” it for a time, but plans based solely on willpower will always reach a place where you don’t have any. And things tend to go downhill from there.
Would you like the key to breaking free of emotional eating so that you can make peace with food?
Stop calling yourself a loser. Stop beating yourself up and start taking on your emotional eating with compassion and respect.
Here are the keys to breaking free from emotional eating:
Identify when you are too busy and start to take charge. If you want to take control of your overeating and your weight, you MUST take control of your life. It’s the truth. Learn to pause amidst the busyness and get grounded. Use these pauses to identify your priorities (and time for YOU needs to be one of them). Learn to say no and to delegate.
Recognize that emotional eating may not be an easy out—it may be the only way you know. Willpower isn’t a permanent solution but you may be relying on it because you don’t know what to do instead. Developing tools and strategies that work, and that you can use instead of overeating, is crucial to putting an end to emotional eating. Don’t sell yourself short. Learn how to address the emotions and the situations that trigger overeating and you will truly be the one in control.
Start practicing kindness. Yelling louder and being meaner is not an effective way to deal with your kids, your friends, your pets, or even yourself. Many women say things to themselves in their heads that they would NEVER utter to anyone they know (let alone someone they care about). Start treating yourself with compassion and your struggles with respect. Take yourself and your difficulties with food seriously (instead of devaluing yourself) and you will be well on the way to finding meaningful solutions.
Stop seeing help as a failure. You don’t know what you don’t know and just like you very likely can’t generate a sentence in Swahili simply because you “want to,” changing your relationship with food requires more than desire. Respect yourself enough to allow yourself the help and support that you need. Getting out of your own head, finding support, and learning from the expertise of another can be the ticket to major changes.
Emotional eating is a major problem that many struggle with. It’s also something you can break free from. Treating your relationship with food and yourself with respect is the first, crucial step.