Emotional Eating: A Door Within Yourself.
A bit of my story and how emotional eating can be a path to healing, growth, and remembering who you really are… if you choose to open the door.
I felt angry, so I ate.
I felt sad, so I ate.
I felt bored, so I ate.
I felt lonely & misunderstood, so I ate.
I felt like I wanted something fun, so I ate.
I ate what I could find and if I couldn’t find anything, I would go and get it.
Then I felt bloated, stuffed, and sick to my stomach.
That’s usually when the guilt trip would start and when I would start planning out how I would get back “on track”.
Until the cycle repeated itself again.
That cycle happened thousands and thousands of times over the course of 2 decades for me.
And if you’re reading this, it’s very likely that this cycle feels familiar to you, too.
The current world situation has made it so that rates of emotional eating, binge eating, and overeating have gone way up. Unfortunately, food sometimes feels like the best (and most reliable) source of comfort, soothing, fun, adventure, and connection all in one…
… even though its effect is only very temporary and comes with many side effects, such as bloating, low energy, feeling discomfort in your body, low confidence, guilt, and a lot of negative self-talk.
I know that cycles intricately because I’ve swung from one end of the spectrum probably a thousand times over the course of 2 decades.
It started insidiously when I was 12. For some reasons, my friends dumped me between elementary and secondary school telling me they felt embarrassed of the way I dressed and styled my hair… and from that very moment, I took on the belief that there was something inherently wrong with me and the way I looked.
The best way I decided to cope with this feeling of rejection (and fear that it would happen again) was to do everything I could to NOT be me and to CHANGE/ CONTROL the way my body looked.
I tried really hard. I was a people pleaser and the good girl. It looked like I had it all together on the outside… but I was really suffering on the inside. The weight of all of these masks and “shoulds” and “shouldnt’s” were sucking the life out of my soul.
With food, I started to learn about nutrition so that I could “figure it out” and get the perfect body, which I thought would be the key that would unlock the door to happiness and success, which is the lie that almost all the ads are selling us. The more I restricted my food, the bigger the episodes of emotional eating and binge eating became.
I really thought there was something wrong with me.
And I really felt like there was something wrong with my body.
But the truth is that the only thing that was wrong is that I had dis-connected from my body and my Self and that I was living my life from the outside in.
Emotional eating really is soul hunger.
And when we start looking more closely at our own emotional eating, how it started, what triggers it, and what we’re getting out of it, we open a door that most people don’t ever open.
We open the door that led us within to explore those darker closest within, full dust and cobwebs, that we may have forgotten where even there in the first place.
And as we illuminate these areas and so some dusting and remove the cobwebs and perhaps even add a bit of decoration within these dark closet, things start to shift.
The healing journey is not linear and is not something that the mind can comprehend.
But it does happen.
And our behaviors with food change.
And how we feel in our body changes.
And how much more like ourselves we feel also changes.
There was a big chunk of my life where I thought I could never have “trigger foods” in my kitchen, whether it be cookies, chocolate chips, or any other kinds of sweets.
I read books and listened to podcasts on sugar addiction and tried so many things to try and FIX the emotional eating.
I read about these stories of people overcoming emotional eating and now forgetting they had ice cream or other treats in their home… and I thought that this would NEVER be possible for me. I thought that they probably had no idea of what I was going through and that I was too broken to ever heal.
Yet here I am writing this article with lots of foods that used to be “trigger foods” in my kitchen just a few feet away from me.
I’ve recovered from emotional eating and binge eating for over 5+ years now and I’m now that person I never thought would be possible for me to be or even come close to.
It all started changing when I stopped trying to FIX the emotional eating.
You see, trying to FIX emotional eating works just as well as trying to fix the gas gauge needle of a car pointing to empty.
Emotional eating is not the problem.
Emotional eating is a symptom that there is a part of you (or many parts of you in most cases) that are mal-nourished or under-nourished.
And if we turn this around, it means that emotional eating is simply a symptom that your body, mind, heart, and/or soul are craving nourishment.
It’s time to stop trying to fix the gas gauge needle of the car running on empty. Nourish your whOle Self: body + mind + heart + soul… and you’ll see what happens!
What part of yourself is craving more nourishment?
Your body? Your mind? Your heart? Your soul? Or (most likely) all of the above?
Open the door within and start with one bite of nourishment at a time.
By Aglaée Jacob, MS, RD