The Upside of Emotional Eating

emotional eating, binge eating, horsham pa

My forehead was planted into the top of my steering wheel in the wal-mart parking lot as I waited for my husband to return to the car. The sound of the engine humming was drowned out by the nagging voice in my head (that annoying shit talker!) taunting me, listing my failures and challenging me to prove my worth.

The door slammed and I snapped out of it, looking up to see a confused look on my husband’s face.

“Uh, you ok? What your deal?” He asked.

“I’m fine,” I sighed (or barked, depending on whose version of the story it is).

My husband empathically responded, “Will froyo make you feel better?”

It just so happened that a new froyo place opened next to wal-mart.

“Yes!” I replied impulsively.

So, off we went to get FroYo.

I filled my cup and enjoyed every *very expensive* ounce.

Along with the creamy sweetness covered in Reese’s pieces, I enjoyed the temporary reprieve from my nasty inner-critic that had been on my ass all day.

Fast forward to the drive home.

“You feeling better?” he asked.

“No…” I respond. That mocking voice was sneaking back into my brainspace.

So, WTH is upside to this, you ask?

Yes, I ate my feelings (anxiety, self doubt and some serious self judgement) in the form froyo and peanut butter candy. A reaction that I, along with so many of you, know very well.

In the moment, it's much easier to numb yourself with food than to work through what’s actually going on inside your head.

But, getting mindful and looking beyond that urge to eat all the FroYo in the world, helped me become aware that I needed the time and space to address the bigger issue: the emotions and self-talk that were sending me spiraling into a place of sheer overwhelm.

To look at it in a different light, consider emotional eating as a symptom of a larger issue. It's a built in fog-horn that, that if listened to, can help us clue into what's going on behind the scenes. It’s an in-your-face sign that tells you something is out of balance. That something in your life, in your head, needs attention.

So, the next time you find yourself reaching for that pint of cookie dough, or that sleeve of Red Velvet Oreos after a long hard day, take a moment.

Take a deep breath (breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts and hold for 4 counts) and question what's behind the urge.

Are you hungry? Craving something sweet? Trying to distract yourself from feeling all the feelings?

Acknowledge what's driving the impulse.

And then what?

Eat the food.

Or don’t.

No judgement here.

The first step in learning how to control your emotional eating pattern is to get behind it. And every time you react to your life by reaching for that one food, let it serve as a reminder to clue into what is going on thats needs some extra attention.

Take a deep breath. Then, decide if you need the food, want the food, if you need to give yourself a hug or an affirmation, if you need to punch a pillow, or take a walk. Whatever you decide, it's ok.

Take judgement out of the equation.

You're not weak for eating emotionally. You're human.

You're resilient. You're strong enough to feel the feelings. You're complex and beautifully badass with, or without, that cup of froyo.