With my Food and Mood clients one of the big relationships we look at is ‘why we eat what and when we eat‘. The short story is that, by default, we eat to feel good emotionally at the expense of our body; segue into ‘the problem with emotional eating.’
The Down Sides of Eating for Comfort
The culturally normal relationship with food is to turn to food for emotional comfort.
Sugar and flour have a giant dopamine feel-good experience in the moment but cause inflammation, insulin spikes and energy crashes.
We think that we are getting emotionally nourished when we treat ourselves to emotional eating, but the opposite is happening to our bodies.
Emotional Eating Awareness
For my clients, in healing their stress and digestive troubles, it means becoming aware of why they are eating what they know is harmful.
Honestly, it is kind of a bitter sweet moment.
Enlightening; but at the same time bubble-popping because it is a ‘you can never go back’ type of insight.
Seeing the connection of emotional eating and digestive troubles takes a lot of the pleasure and joy from the act.
After Awareness, Comes Feeling the Feelings
Not eating comfort foods means feeling the discomfort, the uncomfortable emotions like sad, bored, disappointed, angry, and upset.
It means changing the way we manage our emotions.
Comfort and Our Brain:
Our primal brain has evolved to motivate us towards comfort and pleasure. Emotional eating is like two-for-one. The pleasure from eating and the avoidance of the uncomfortable feeling.
Our primal brain has no bad intention.
Think of your primal brain like a toddler, no bad intentions, but no ability to consider the effect of the emotional eating, the health costs, and the downsides.
Our primal brain has yet to evolve to understand that the industrial food and man-made products we have created in the last 100 years are harmful. Our brain just knows that it feels good in the moment.
To deprive ourselves of the big hitting dopamine man-made foods can feel really uncomfortable.
Part of our brain freaks out at the idea of not eating comfort foods or eating for pleasure. All my client’s brains always freak about out this concept.
Our primal brain is super happy sitting on the couch, eating, and watching NetFlix where it is safe and comfortable, by default.
I have done my fair share of sitting on the couch as well as my fair share of emotional eating.
I know where that gets me… digestive troubles and emotional woes.
Stuck, limited and hitting the escape button to my life.
For sure, not any closer to any of my dreams or goals.
I know that I want more out of my life.
Feeling my feelings and not eating them was a big breakthrough for me, in both my physical and emotional life.
Do you emotionally eat?
What are costs that you see?