So it's the weekend and I had Saturday dinner at my mom's. Like all black families when we gather we eat. Yes we eat at funerals. We eat at weddings. We eat at baby showers. We eat at any type of gathering where family and friends get together. Eating has become a source for comfort. Food is comforting.
The foods we eat have become a part of our emotions. You know you that question "what do you feel like eating?". My husband asks this question all the time. Of course I will answer with the food of choice based on how I'm feeling. If I'm feeling sad I want some good 'ol cooking like fried chicken and add the dessert to make everything right…brownies. There have been days where I've needed to calm my anxiety and I'm heading to the local Chinese restaurant for General Tso or Sesame chicken and white rice. Again food choice is based on my emotions. The other night I was mad at my husband and needed a McDonald mango pineapple smoothie. Emotional eating.
Emotional eating is when you're eating to cope with your emotions instead of eating because you're physically hungry. Emotional eating satisfies you and your emotional needs for the moment however the cause for the emotion is still there lingering. It's the same as addiction, self medicating to cope with challenges, emotions, thoughts, and situations.
Recovery from emotional eating does exists. Here's a list of ways to manage the urge to grab that bag of potato chips when you're bored or the gallon of ice cream when you're sad
- Use STOP. I spoke about this skill in another post called STOP. The Stop skill is a DBT skill that is used for distress tolerance or when you're in crisis and need to take a step back in order to problem solve and respond without impulse to urges (https://nocouchneeded.com/2017/07/24/stop/).
- Give a name to your emotion. Most time when we are emotional eating we are not even aware that is what we're doing. We get so wound up in our emotions that the eating is done unconsciously. Instead when you're feeling mad, sad, glad, happy, etc. put a name to that emotion. Say I feel…! Sit with the emotion. Allow yourself to feel it. Don't escape from it with food.
- Talk it out. Instead of running to get that pineapple mango smoothie talk it out. Express what you're feeling and thinking. Then work on resolving the problem with a solution not with food. You can definitely do this with a friend for support.
- Go for a walk. When the emotions hit you and food is on your mind redirect your thoughts to walking, running, jogging, or some form of exercise. Exercise is a form of healthy coping to help fight off the urges.
- Listen to your body. The body will tell you when it's hungry. So if you're eating and it's not because you're hungry stop and get in tune with your body. Listen to what it's saying and feeling (I'm bored or I'm sad or I'm stressed). That's your que to use a healthy coping skill to manage the urge to eat and do some problem solving.
- Lean in to the urge. If the urge to to eat is becoming overwhelming then lean into the urge with an alternative. Try fruits and vegetables instead of that cake and ice cream or that bag of potatoes chips. It's ok. You will beat it next time.
- Develop a stress management plan. Stress is the reason why many of us emotional eat. Talk to a professional about developing a stress management plan that will improve the stress in your life thus leading to urges to emotional eat.
- Seek professional help. There are therapists out there that can help you address the root of the issue and help you develop healthier coping skills to overcome emotional eating. It's ok to go to therapy. We're here to help and support you. #noshame #noblame #nojudgment
Breaking Free from Emotional Eating