I have struggled with this for as long as I can remember. And I still do sometimes. If you’re like me and know that your emotions trigger eating patterns… whether it’s positive or negative emotions, stick with me while I explain my thoughts.
As children we were often rewarded with food. Example: be good at the shops and you get to pick a treat, don’t fight on the car trip and we’ll get McDonald’s ice creams.
As adults if something good happens, our brain often wants a reward. Sometimes that response morphed into alcohol reward or a nice dinner out. Other times, when we’re sad, lonely, depressed, heartbroken etc, we fill our “feeling” with food. That takes our mind off the feeling for about 2 minutes. But soon enough, it’s back again.
We’re going to tackle the negative emotional trigger, because honestly, that causes more side effects and is linked to something deeper than just “celebration”.
Basically, to fill our feelings, something has to be “missing”, for us to want to fill it. This could also show up as a numbing affect. Binge eating or emotional eating could come on hard and fast or it can build up over time.
If it’s caused by a break up or sudden loss, then you know exactly what’s missing.
My advice in this case, is to:
Dig deep into those emotions, visit them but don’t unpack. You’re allowed to mope for a bit.
But then it’s time to pick yourself back up. Try to see some positives in how things have changed. I know in some cases, this is impossible i.e. death close to you. But other times, the missing person/job etc has also left a gaping hole (or many) in your schedule. You suddenly have extra time on your hands… this leads to more thinking, feeling, eating.
It might be time to find a hobby, be more social with friends etc. This works even if you can’t see any positives to the change. Because being busy gives you a reason to get dressed, go out and function. Eventually it will get easier. But in the meantime, let’s make that feeling less painful. See this blog post.
If you’re still not sure what’s triggered this emotional or binge eating, grab a pen and paper and rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 for the following:
Social life and personal relationships
Work life, professional relationships and career
Body/Health and wellness
Mind and mental health
Your physical Environment
Relationship with Self or “Spiritual” aspect
Did you notice any were much lower than the others? Or maybe they’re all a little low?
Next, do some brainstorming and come up with how you can address the low ones.
If there’s something “missing” or you have some kind of void in your life, it’s very likely the cause of your overeating.
Understand that some things may be out of your control FOR NOW. But now that you’re aware of these things, you may take a little more notice when you feel the urge to eat.
5 quick tips for when the urge strikes:
Have a large glass of water
Find a hobby – distract yourself – distract your mind
Address the thoughts that are occurring that are making you want to eat. Whether they’re factually incorrect or just plain negative, you’re in control and they’re JUST THOUGHTS.
Plan your next meal – make it enticing
It may help you to plan a treat day or meal for whenever suits you. If you can hold off until then, you may have what you like. That may restrict your binge eating time to only one day a week instead of 6 or 7.
Or call me. Email. Facebook message, whatever really. I’ve been there. The urge is STRONG! I get it. I often can’t even remember going to the pantry or opening the bag of chips… all I know is I’m eating with my hands and hiding from my husband. It's often not even food I particularly love. It feels desperate, primal, and I feel ashamed.
Let me know what you think of this in the comments below.