Emotional eating is the practice of consuming large quantities of food – usually ‘comfort’ or junk food – in response to feelings besides hunger. Have you ever noticed people reaching for food when they feel uncomfortable in a social situation? Do you find yourself reaching for food when you’re feeling down? If so, you’re not alone. Experts estimate about 75% of overeating is tied to emotions. Nutritionist and author, Jessica Sepel, shares tips on how to beat binge eating.
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The whole point of healing a broken and emotional relationship with food or your body is uncovering WHY you have ended up with this battle with your body in the first place. If we dig deeper for a moment… There is always an underlying emotional reason behind having a complicated relationship with food. These are the reasons why I believe so many of us have developed a complicated relationship with food and our bodies:
– Fear. Fear of rejection, of not being enough, not being accepted, appreciated or loved.
– Lack of trust.
– A need for control.
– Societal pressure to look a certain way.
– Losing perspective of what really matters.
– Guilt and the belief that we are not enough.
When you lack trust in your body, anxiety is the natural result. Food control is so often anxiety-based. Because food is such an integral part of our lives, controlling it allows us to cope with anxiety around family relationships, social groups, the pressure to look a certain way, our weight and body image. Food brings comfort – in choosing to eat or avoid certain foods you feel like you have gained control. There is so much pressure in our society to be thin; from media (especially social media!) and celebrity culture. There could also be pressure in your family – comments or criticism about your weight or how you eat. Food is not meant to be so complicated.
Questions to ask yourself:
– Where did you lose your love for yourself?
– When did the trust in yourself break?
– Why do I feel the need to deprive myself?
– What are you trying to control?
– What is important to you? For so many years in my life I relied on what others thought of me. You have to come back to what really matters to you. How do YOU wake up and feel?
These are not easy questions to answer. The first step in healing an emotionally unhealthy relationship with food is to focus on self love and nourishing both your physical and mental state.
How to rebuild a foundation of love for yourself:
– Work on ways to rebuild your relationship with yourself. There are so many great ways to do just that. I find Yoga helps me reconnect to my body.
– GRATITUDE – Starting to practice daily gratitude. It sounds corny – but keeping a gratitude journal (it can even be a list in your phone) of 3 things you are grateful for about your body can make all the difference.
– Deal with the anxiety – Meditation and mindfulness practices are amazing for this. Try my JSHealth Pre-Meal Meditation and tips for What I Do When I Wake Up Anxious. Seek professional help if you need.
– Schedule more YOU time – it helps you reconnect with yourself and indirectly helps heal your relationship with food. Just 10-30 mins to do something for yourself e.g. a walk in nature, reading a book, cooking your favourite meal.
– Make a commitment to give up dieting. Dieting does not work, if there was a diet that worked we would all be on it. The only thing that does work is giving yourself permission to enjoy and love food. Remind yourself that you are worthy of enjoying and loving yourself. You have to let go of a desire to deprive yourself. If you love yourself enough – you will let go. When you rebuild that foundation of self-love you realise you don’t deserve to put yourself through deprivation and restriction, your body is too precious for that.
All of these tips take practice. It will take time. But know that each time you utilise one of these tools instead of a trip to the kitchen to soothe yourself, the closer you are to being binge-free. And you really can get there!