How Emotional Eating Makes You Feel Worse

feel worseHave you ever eaten something with no hunger, strictly to feel better? I have. And I’ll bet you have too.

Clients tell me all the time that they are ‘emotional eaters’. This all-encompassing term includes any eating you do to relieve an uncomfortable feeling.

This feeling could be anything: shame, anger, fear, loneliness, worry.

Rarely is it ever feelings of peace, joy or satisfaction.

Often, my clients, who are frustrated about their extra weight, eat to overcome the bad feelings they have about their bodies, their ‘failure’, their inability to get themselves to do what’s good for them. So, we eat to get rid of uncomfortable feelings.

But, wait a minute!

To me, it looks like we’re soothing our pain using the very thing that causes us to feel pain in the first place. And this eating adds more pounds of pain, giving you more uncomfortable feelings.

Soothing ourselves with food, when we’re trying to lose weight, is like rubbing salt into a wound. It makes it feel worse. It makes it hurt more. And it won’t get rid of what caused the wound in the first place.

So, what can you do instead?

First, catch yourself next time you reach for food to soothe an uncomfortable feeling. Pause. And ask if this will help or compound your discomfort. Then choose something else to do.

Don’t eat. Allow the feeling to bubble up and wash over you. It will pass.

Now you can decide what to do about it.

I encourage my clients to have a list ready of things they can do to soothe themselves. Some take only a few minutes. Some take more time. Some are solo activities. Some involve other people.

Have your own personal list ready. There’s no limit to the ideas you can come up with that can give you relief.

And here’s one more tip: how do you get yourself to pause and go look at your list?

Do a preview. Start regularly mentally practicing coming up against your stress and instead of reaching for food, reach for your soothing list.  Do it often enough and it will become your new behavior.

But first, you need to stop using the thing that causes pain to relieve your pain.

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