Even if you’re not fat. Skinny people use food to comfort themselves too. But because they don’t gain weight from it they see it as less of a problem. Sorry, that’s still emotional eating.
But save for a few exceptions, most of the time when people overeat, or eat more of the foods that are not as healthy for them, they are eating with their feelings. Even if it’s just an extra piece of garlic bread at the restaurant or one more piece of cake for dessert, (“It’s just so good!), that’s still emotional eating.
The problem with having food as your vice, compared to other ones, is that it’s necessary and it gives us pleasure. Other vices such as alcohol, cigarettes and gambling, all give us pleasure but we don’t necessarily need them. In fact your life would arguably be much better without them.
But food is something that we have to consume every single day, and so if we have any anxiety issue at all, ( which is everybody by the way), then there’s a good chance that we will use food as one of the ways in which we cope with it.
The person in the example above who takes that extra piece of garlic bread is eating too much. They know that they shouldn’t yet they find themselves indulging because it’s just, “Too good.” Which is another way of saying it feels good.
The person who doesn’t overeat, but eats foods that are wrong for them like pizza, sugar cereals, processed meals, microwave dinners, etc., you get it. This person might not overeat but they are eating emotionally, because they could just as easily choose oatmeal, chicken solid, and fish with broccoli as their three main meals, but they consistently don’t.
They want to feel good and eating those (former) kinds of foods are much better choices to feel good even if they don’t make sense from a health standpoint. Managing their pain is more important than their health. It is for all of us even though we say otherwise.
We Know what to Eat Already
By now we have way more than enough information to make really good decisions with our diet. The Internet has thousands and thousands of blogs and resources that all say the same thing: eat lots of fruits and vegetables, moderate amounts of lean meat, chicken and fish, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. Stay away from processed foods, junk food, deep-fried foods, foods high in salt, sugar and excess carbs.
SAME OLD, SAME OLD
There, I saved you the time of having to pour through hundreds of different articles and Instagram posts on what the right foods to eat are. They all say the same thing. They all say some variation on what I just said above. And they’ve been saying that for the last 15 years at least, and so unless you don’t have an Internet connection, you likely already know this. Especially if you been concerned about your health and/or about your weight over that time.
We know what to eat but we don’t do what we know we should for a very good reason. Just like we all know not to smoke or drink or waste our time on Facebook, we find ourselves doing just that, again for a very good reason.
To manage our anxiety.
I don’t advocate doing any of those things of course, but they are very good reasons for helping us manage our unconscious anxiety. They’re good reasons because:
1 – we’re not very aware we have the anxiety,
2 – we don’t know what to do with it when we are aware
Emotional eat comes down to anxiety management.
Almost everyone on the planet has anxiety that is dysregulated to some degree, and they have one or more coping strategies to try to manage it, which is more like keeping it at bay than managing it.
We generally use tactics to avoid, or distract from it, or create different feeling states in our body (like the high from junk food) to not feel it, or give us a break from it.
But what we’re really doing is basically looking the other way, and we have hundreds of ways of doing that. One of them is food of course, but we can also distract by being tuned out, too much screen time, working too much, staying busy, talking too much, getting involved and overreacting to politics, or even adopting a specific type of personality like being too nice or too standoffish.
We do all this because anxiety is not easy to deal with. Yet it is one of the most important things to do because it is the foundation of our physical and mental health, and the health of every aspect of our lives. Basically us.
ANXIETY IS IN CONTROL
It affects how well we sleep, what type of relationships we have, how happy we are, how comfortable we feel in our bodies, how much exercise we can do, what kind of work we choose to do and tolerate, our friendships, romantic relationships, how we parent our kids, where we go on vacation, what musings we try, and almost every other decision that we make. Anxiety is there, in the background running constantly and messing with us.
So is important that we learn to create a relationship with anxiety or else it will be our boss and determine what kind of life we have. And if you haven’t guessed by now it’s not a very nice boss.
Back to overeating
You can see now that overeating is not simply a diet management issue, nor is it something to correct because you want to lose a few pounds, or improve your health. Overeating is 1 cog or wheel, that is part of a much bigger machine. So the next time you overeat just recognize that you’re employing one strategy of many, to help make you feel a little better for a short time. A time out for your anxiety so to speak.
Let your overeating be a guide to your anxiety, meaning a way of connecting to it. You do this by being aware of how you feel before you overeat, and of how you feel after you eat, and then seeing that your anxiety is much, much bigger than you are, and that you’re not going to be able to control it by employing the newest hack or trick.
What you can do is accept that you are an emotional eater and that it’s almost impossible to stop doing unless you learn to manage that Leviathan that is your anxiety. And then except that managing anxiety can take five years or more if you work at it. But then accept that it doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight fast and make progress starting now.
The guide on the main page of this website spells out exactly how to do that, how to continue to be an emotional eater and lose weight, and get started managing your anxiety, all free. Click here to read it now, (and don’t worry, there are no pop-ups, email prompts, or account creation requirements or anything like that. Just a webpage.)
Emotional eaters can lose weight quickly and still get their food fixes, meaning eating lots of good, delicious food without having to suffer. That main page spells out how.
See you 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.