Do you find yourself eating for comfort? Maybe you are sad, upset or angry and these emotions drive you to food where you find comfort in. The satisfaction doesn’t last long though. It’s only initially when we feel better but then the guilt takes over. We ate too much. We ate all the bad stuff which we shouldn’t have.
It’s hard to be healthy when you have a problem with emotional eating. And many times you are not even aware of it. To be healthier, the first step is to be mindful of your emotions and what you eat.
Do you eat when you are hungry or because you just want to eat but you are not hungry? Many people don’t really think too much about their eating habits, they just eat, when they feel like it.
It’s important to recognise your eating habits and triggers which drive you to overeat or eat unhealthy foods. If you think you may have a problem, the first step is to keep a food diary and also noting down your feelings and emotions. You will then easily be able to see whether there is a link between what you eat and how you feel. You will also be able to see any patterns.
The diary of an emotional eater
Emotional eaters have quite common behaviours and here is a diary from Chinmayi who wrote a book on emotional eating called BodyMAGIC!, a blissful end to emotional overeating. Can you relate?
The days when seemingly from out of nowhere, I’m tired, irritable, idle perhaps, feel apathy, confusion, questioning my very life and all its facets. I’m emotional.
Am I really happy – at work? in love? with my friends? as I play?
Is THIS it? Is this ALL there is? It is so hard!
Or there’s a trigger. An unexpected bill arrives when I’ve planned to save. The car breaks down on the way to an important meeting. I try on a gorgeous-looking dress for a party, only to find it looks like a sack on potatoes. I don’t get the job I’ve interviewed for. I have an annoying cough that’s kept me awake most of the night. It feels like the magic carpet has been pulled out from under my feet. Emotional responses are in full flow.
Suddenly the gym is the last place I want to be. I resign myself to whatever I must do to get through this challenge. And there’s something I can do which, for a while will soothe the pain.
I am unlikely to be able to avoid most of the things that are detrimental to my health, especially in this moment. It might be alcohol, sugar in its many forms, white bread or cheese. But it depends what’s around. I’ll find something. Lots of it.
More often than not, I’ll convince myself that this something is really OK. Maybe I’ll call it a treat, a rare occasion, a ‘need’. But one thing is for sure, in the heat of the moment, it won’t be mindful or intuitive eating. I may even eat it before I taste it. Which will mean I want more. And then some more. Until it’s gone. Including the extra I planned to keep for the weekend.
There is a buzz, a rebellion, a f**k it! in there most times.
Maybe I’ll sleep better for it, this soothing. But at some point, I’ll start to feel some guilt, shame, failing. I’ll question my worth, my ability, my purpose. Sometimes I can quickly draw another line under the ‘episode’ by promising another abstaining fast, diet or extreme exercise to make-up for the binge. It’s how I get through.
I’m so desperate. My poor body.
It doesn’t deserve this. But I feel trapped. Stuck in the cycle. And it sucks. I hate this. I want so much for change. Why can’t I just STOP?
Oh well, tomorrow is another day……
Is this what normally happens to you? If it does, you are definitely an emotional eater. So there you have it, your confirmation. But what to do now?
You can start dealing with emotional eating with some help and advice. You can easily get some quick tips on emotional eating online, just take a look at this article on MindBodyGreen, for example.
You can also buy yourself some books which talk about this issue in more detail – for example, a book from the best selling author Chinmayi Dore, BodyMagic!.
Chinmayi is on a mission to educate those of us that are fed up of feeling the despair, misery and feelings of failure that come from unsuccessful dieting. She encourages us to look a little deeper instead of getting caught up with fads, so-called miracle cures, pills or questionable multi-level marketing solutions. Chinmayi suggests that by understanding the reason why we eat and identifying emotional patterns can put a blissful end to emotional eating. Chinmayi has done it for herself and helped many others through this path
Chanmayi Dore’s book BodyMAGIC! is a definitive guide for the emotional eater. Not only is in a heart-bearing account of Chinmayi’s personal journey but it is a collection of many tried and tested, ancient or traditional solutions, with practical exercises and a workbook. It is a self-centred approach of gentle self-analysis and transformation. It collates research to prove that in all but a few cases diets do not and cannot work.