By Jaz Goven, Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner & AAMET Trainer
Emotional eating is basically our way of tranquilizing a negative emotion or feeling. We have been trained to reach out and get something to ‘treat’ ourselves to and we do this as a reward, a punishment or just not to ‘feel’. What we reach out for is foods with high sugar content and carbohydrates. It’s hardly likely that you would crave a bowl of grapes or an orange, unless you’re pregnant of course.
Emotional eating is totally different from physical hunger, and once you start to recognize the difference, you are on your way to making a different choice.
You can recognize emotional eating because it comes on suddenly and you feel you have to ‘have something’, whereas physical hunger is more gradual and natural without the cravings and need to eat quickly.
Once you have recognised the difference in yourself, it’s a great idea to start to notice when you think about food, where you are, what time it is and how you are feeling at that time. If you do this for a few days you will start to see a pattern emerge and that pattern gives clarity, with clarity comes understanding and through understanding you become in control and realise you have a choice.
It’s also helpful to remember that our bodies produce excess cortisol (a hormone that increases the appetite) when we are in a stressful situation. This is important to know because when you experience excessive hunger, you will understand it is often due to the cortisol flooding into your system and you can choose to do something to manage your stress, rather than eating to suppress it. Make up a list of nurturing things you can do when this happens and be ready to take control of the situation.
It is important when you start to make these changes that you learn to be patient with yourself and acknowledge every step along the way. Focus on what you do get right rather than what you don’t. Enlist the help of a friend to support you, join a group where you feel comfortable and every time you think “I can’t” just ask yourself “Is that true?” If you make your goals too big, you’re setting yourself up to fail, sure and steady are what work for you now as well as forgiving yourself when you fall off the wagon. Do not think you have to get it all right and cut all the good stuff out, anyone who does that is destined to fail. Make your changes do-able and decide every week what it is that you want to achieve this week. Give yourself an aggressive yet realistic deadline, for example one week, so you have something to go for but aren’t setting yourself up to fail. Each week evaluate whether these deadlines are realistic or not, often they aren’t due to holidays, birthdays and things that just ‘pop up’. Be flexible with yourself and your body and it will become flexible with you.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a very powerful technique which is easily learned and will support you in your changes. This is a simple tapping technique that allows you to release blockages in your system caused by stress and trauma and the real reasons behind why you are emotionally eating. There is a lot of information about EFT available everywhere, but for me the reason it works so well for reforming emotional eaters is because it gives you permission to say exactly how you feel (usually negative in the beginning) and get positive results. In the beginning it may be hard to believe that you can change yourself and positive affirmations often don’t feel true, but if you can say (while tapping) “Even though I don’t think I can change, even though this is so hard for me right now, even though this isn’t working and it’s taking too long, I accept myself and how I feel”. This connects to a truth you have inside and once you do that while tapping it connects to the block and it releases easily. What you will find is the negative statement no longer feels ‘true’ and you are then able to choose to behave differently.
EFT has helped many people gain control of their eating as well as their self-esteem. What’s more, when you use EFT to help yourself with this issue, diets are no longer necessary and your weight stabilizes because you are becoming more stable within.
Visit our online Education Hub RESCU Me Academy for our courses, free ebooks and resources.