One of the more common aspects of emotional eating is feeling out of control around food.
When the Monster has You
It’s a feeling of being trapped. You never really want to overeat but somehow at the end of the day you look back and find that, once again, like the day before and the day before that, you did.
Each day you wake up and tell yourself that you are not going to do the same nutty things you did yesterday and each day you do.
It’s not because you’re weak or because you lack willpower, or that there is anything wrong at all with your character. You want to do the best things for yourself in all areas of life. Who wouldn’t?
Why then don’t you? As you may have guessed, it’s because there is a stronger force pushing you to overeat – usually a dessert or some high carb food. It’s much stronger than your willpower which means you don’t have much of a chance to overcome it by simply wanting to.
You’re stuck or trapped in the grip of this monster who you can’t even see.
This monster is basically your unregulated emotions. Your anxiety and frustrations which pulse through your body all day long. They are uncomfortable to say the least and are hard to tolerate for long periods of time.
Not knowing how to deal with them on your own, you look for ways that seem like they’d help out and eating is a very effective one. Not very healthy, but in the moment it will suffice.
Eating is like a drug in that it calms you right down and makes you feel at ease. It’s soothing and activates certain physiological process in the body, insulin spike, energy being diverted for digestion etc., that make you feel that way.
Food also tastes good, and that pleasure is something to focus upon, to distract you from the anxiety. Emotional eaters often will eat past the point of being full because that 5th slice of pizza still tastes good, even if it’s not nearly as good as the first slice. The small bit of pleasure gained is worth the tummy ache as the ‘anxiety ache’ is worse.
How many times have we eaten too much, in the same the way a college freshman drinks too much at a party, feels horrible and then says, “Never again,” only to find ourselves at the next family BBQ with our memories magically wiped of ever having felt stomach, distention regret pain (copyrighted term) that last time? Yeah, every single one of us.
The pleasure gained from food is not the only diversion in our day. If our anxiety level is moderate to high then we’ll find ourselves distracting ourselves all day long in different ways. We’ll check texts and emails when we don’t need to, for no good reason even though we think we’re doing it purposely.
We’ll overwork, do extra cleaning and arranging, watch too much Netflix, get sucked into our Facebook feeds and check the online flyers to see what’s on sale.
Then, when the day is done we slow down and find we have less do to and therefore less distractions. Time to see what’s in the cupboard.
Your emotions are running the show. Not you, hence the feeling powerlessness to food.
Take an Interest in the Feeling
Its the only way to take some of the control back. Those unregulated emotions were mainly unconscious before and that gave them power. If you can’t see them, or even know they exist then how can you do anything about them? How can you make any progress at all in your fight against emotional eating?
You need to feel and accept that powerlessness and then turn toward it, like you’ve had enough of it driving the bus, and then start to pay attention. And when you do you’ll get in touch with that anxiety alluded to earlier.
You’ll begin to notice how difficult it feels to contain and how strong of a pull it has on you to open the fridge and eat the tastiest looking thing in there. Now’s the time to be curious, not to berate yourself or judge the fact that you are going to eat that cake even though you know what is going on behind the scenes.
That you are giving in to your feelings of being unsettled, and that you’re reaching for a narcotic to settle you.
It’s okay. It’s what everyone does in some for or another – drinking, gambling, shopping etc., – and you’re just realizing that you’re now part of that group.
Taking back some Control
A part of you has likely known that your eating issues were emotional in nature. People say to change emotional eating you need to get to the root of the problem.
Then they don’t tell you how to do that.
They offer suggestions which are generic and found in every article on emotional eating ever but most don’t offer anything concrete.
The first thing to accept is that ‘they’ are right. You do have to get to the root of the issue. What they don’t say is that working on the root cause and resolving it can take 5 years or so.
Not very encouraging. So what do you do in the meantime? Continue to gain weight and inch your way closer and closer to diabetes while you work on yourself?
I’d suggest reading the guide on this site as a first step (free on the main page). It talks about managing the problem and even losing weight while doing so.
You don’t have to suffer through any deprivation in your diet in flavor or in quantity. The point of management is to make it easy enough to do so you can turn your attention to the anxiety and focus as much of your efforts on that aspect.
You’ll start to lose weight and feel better which in turn will give you the extra motivation to make change in other areas too.
Working on and changing your anxiety level here has benefits in all areas of your life, not just your eating.
The key is to not suffer or make it something to endure. The key is to get onto the right track and let the process take you forward.
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.