Confession: I am an emotional eater

“Emotional eating is the practice of consuming food — usually “comfort” or junk foods — in response to feelings instead of hunger.”

I eat more when I am stressed. I eat more when I am depressed. I eat more when I am anxious. I eat more when I am angry. I eat more when I am lacking inspiration. I eat more when I want to reward myself.

I am an emotional eater and I am not ashamed of it.

It’s not a deep dark secret. It’s not something that fills me with shame. It doesn’t make me hate myself. It doesn’t make me cry. It doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t define who I am. That my friends, is progress. That is one of the many gifts that self love has taught me. I am not defined by the things that I do and that whole self-loathing shtick is way overrated. If you would’ve asked me 10 years ago you’d have gotten an entirely different response full of shame, guilt, and self-recrimination. Emotional eating isn’t who I am.

It’s a coping mechanism.

So is smoking and drinking a glass of wine and biting your fingernails. Emotional eating s not a good coping mechanism I’ll grant you but that’s all it is. When we allow ourselves to see those behaviors as exactly what they are instead of something that we are it becomes easier to change the behavior. The last several months have been really sucky and I find myself drawn to fast food and anything greasy and cheesy. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I want to change my ways, and that’s always the first step, admitting there’s something worth changing. I wanted to share with you the tools that I’m using.

How I’m working on changing my mindset.

Mindfulness. A lot of the time I ignore the fact that I’m eating for my emotions. I shut out those voices that ask if this is really what’s best for me and I do what I want to do instead. It also blocks out the emotions, for awhile. Eating something delicious helps me to ignore what I’m feeling in the moment. When we allow ourselves to be mindful about the whole situation, things start to shift.
“I feel x
It makes me want to do y
But instead I’m going to z”
I love that formula, so simple but it packs a punch.

Feed the emotion instead of the body. 9 times out of 10 if I practice emotional self care when those feelings and cravings hit by the time I’m finished self-caring the cravings had gotten to a point where I don’t feel the need to have ice cream and cookies for lunch. The secret it scraping together the energy to do those good-for-you things. Don’t throw up your hands and let the cravings win just because it’s easier.

Practice kindness. To myself, my body, and my mind that sometimes goes a little bit off the rails. Beating yourself up never solves anything, it just overloads you with guilt and shame. Being kind and compassionate to myself has done more for my self development than beating myself up ever could. It’s all a process, one step at a time, don’t sweat the missteps, just keep moving forward.

How do you deal with not-so-good-for-you coping mechanisms?