The roots of one’s emotional eating often start with the family.
Generations of Trauma
From a reader:
“I come from a family that centered a lot of our time and problems around food. It was almost a sin to say no to anything offered at any time of the day. We children knew that it would be offensive to our mom especially.
“You could see the worry on her face and how it seemed that every problem could be somehow made better or at least soothed by making something to eat and then having us take it with us when we went outside or before school (after breakfast).
“We learned quickly that if mom was okay then we were and so we went along with it. Dad used to love to eat large dinners and then bring out warm nuts and seeds for us to snack on while we watched his favorite TV shows. Then mom would make a plate of biscuits and join us.
“Whenever there was a celebration we prepared a lot of food, way more than we needed which was actually fun. But when things were stressful we also made lots of food and ate quickly, meaning we didn’t enjoy it much. That wasn’t pleasant and there were a lot of those times.
“My grandmother used to do the same to my mom and her sisters and brothers. When we’d visit it felt like being home. My mom was like grandma 2.0. It seemed to me that this has been in our family for awhile.
“I don’t know the root of it but I don’t think it had anything to do with food. I think somewhere along the line my family started to use food to cope with whatever stresses and hardships they faced.
“It’s understandable as the stories I’ve been told about how things used to be for my grandmother and her generation are bleak and full of difficulty. I don’t blame them for trying to survive which they had to do at times.
“I think they may have learned to eat like that because food was scarce at times and so when it finally was more available it was something to hold onto and really place at the center of the metaphorical table.
It’s Passed on to Me Now
“Being a member of that family it was almost a sure thing that I would inherit the same coping strategy so it’s no surprise that I’m struggling with my eating.
“I used to be angry at them for passing this on to me. One day I realized that they probably didn’t even know they were doing it. That they were using emotional eating to cope with their day to day stresses.
“People didn’t indulge in their emotions at that time. You were busy all day and had to make ends meet. Or, the structure of society was that emotions weren’t discussed much within families or even communities.
“I now have the opportunity to take on the past’s trauma and see what I can do with it, so that I don’t pass it on to my own children. I know it’s impossible to be perfect and that I will (and am) make mistakes and leave them with some of the burden.
“That used to bother me too. I guess though that it’s good enough to simply try. To not turn away from the problem and see it for what it is, and do my best.
“I also know that the best way to change my kids is to change myself and so I’ll start there.
THE EATING LOVE GUIDE (FREE)
The Eating Love Guide has helped many people regain control of their eating patterns, resulting not only in weight loss but also better health and improved self-esteem. To read it online, click here.