Have you tried every single crazy diet and dietary theory, (like keto-paleo-vegan) every exercise program, every supplement and pill or any other random thing that offers a promise of losing weight? Did you have some success initially only to regain the weight? Chances are, you might be an emotional eater. If this seems to resonate with you and yet you want to stop reading, I don’t blame you! This can be tough to acknowledge because food has been a consistent emotional suppressant and stress management system for you. Just having this realization in and of itself can be super scary. It’s even scarier to know where to begin to change this most likely deeply entrenched habit. If you feel overwhelmed by taking the steps to begin to do something about it, you are definitely not alone.
Emotional eating is a major struggle for tens of thousands of people. The diet industry preys on people who are desperate to lose weight and makes their specific diet plan seem easy, healthy and like it’s the only way. They often make us feel as though we don’t have the discipline to do it alone, so we need their plan to lose weight and then equate the feeling or experience of “being thin” to happiness. Restricting food, not eating enough calories and possibly not receiving enough valuable nutrients that your body needs to function effectively sets you up for “cheat days” binge eating, being mentally and emotionally preoccupied by food obsessions, low energy and low motivation. While all of this is reason alone to question diets, their promises and systems—no matter what they promise and/or deliver—none of them address the root cause of weight gain in the first place: emotional eating.
If you have been an emotional eater for a long time, you may have begun to see your own patterns and how there is something missing. If you are just beginning to acknowledge that you are indeed an emotional eater or stress eater, there is good news. This is where you can begin to heal because awareness is the first step. You can start feeling hopeful when you are no longer sinking into a space of avoidance and denial, or spending more money on another book, pill or plan only to be disappointed over and over again. With awareness as the first step, acknowledging that the process is not a quick fix is the second. Reinventing your relationship with food, your emotions and yourself is possible and it requires time, dedication, consistency and effort.
The biggest difference here is that as you begin to work towards healing the root cause of the weight you wish to no longer carry, awareness alone does not cause the weight does not just pour off! Usually the process takes much longer than a crazy crash diet as there are many layers and steps to working through emotions. The work requires developing new ways to manage emotions, developing new routines, thought patterns and alleviating negative cognitions you may experience about yourself that seem to keep you feeling stuck. These negative beliefs may feel like, “I have to be perfect” “I will fail,” “I’ve tried to change before and it didn’t work,” “what’s the point,” “I’m too lazy,” “I’m not good enough,” “my body fights me,” and so on. These negative beliefs often run deep and are perpetuated by thoughts which will significantly impact actions, behaviors and choices. Not to mention that through the healing process it is helpful to address nutritional imbalances within your body, metabolic function, blood sugar balance and body image. It can be overwhelming because it is indeed a ton of work.
Once you make this choice that tackling emotional eating is the change you want, there are two concepts that are essential to come to terms with as you begin. The first is that you need to believe in your ability to create the changes you desire in your life. The second is that you are willing to commit to creating the change you desire. Once you fully integrate these two concepts, you will be well on your way. This is where you can address the challenges, blocks, negative thoughts and feelings. There will be resistance, but that’s ok, through the change process you will build resilience. There will be back-sliding, but that’s ok, there is nothing you will ever create for yourself that is truly meaningful and long-lasting that doesn’t have a learning curve and opportunities to grow into becoming your best self. It all starts with the decision to change, the desire to know and understand your internal emotional world and to befriend your mind and body. Once you create the belief and dedication, you then take it one day at a time.
While the process can be overwhelming and seem like a major task, breaking it down into doable, practical and meaningful steps will begin to propel you forward. As you begin to shift your mindset and work from a space of focusing on what’s going well rather than whether or not you are perfect, you will make progress. As you make progress you will see the internal shifts happening slowly and steadily. When you turn the focus away from losing weight and towards healing your relationship with food, your body and yourself, you will remain motivated to create the lasting change you desire. Often with diets there is a promise of losing weight fast. However, when addressing emotional eating, it will not be a fast journey. This is a steady, action focused journey where you begin to create your own personalized dietary plan. You create the movement in your life that is pleasurable. You create opportunities for self-reflection and emotional awareness to learn and grow. You are in charge of what makes your body feel energized, healthy and vital. You know what’s best and you will develop trust in your body and ability to change—and keep changing.
If this feels new, strange or something you have not considered or if you have known you are an emotional eater for a long time but avoided facing it due to fear or denial, now is the time to step into your personal power. It’s time to reclaim your health and wellness in mind, body and spirit. It is time to begin your personal journey towards making peace with food.
If you find you could benefit from support along the way, reach out, there is no need for you to go through this process all alone. Whether you reach out to me, another coach, therapist or best friend, find your team that will support your growth, change and will encourage you to create a life you love.