Updated: Mar 3
To stop emotional eating, you have to feel your emotions. Listen, I get it. I learned to emotionally overeat as a child.I was the unlucky kid who was bullied as a kid (which I am only connecting now to an undiagnosed ADHD) and I hate the shit out of my feelings.
I did it ALL the time.
And I became a chubby bunny, so I did what any 11 year old girl would do growing up in diet culture.
But I sucked hard at dieting.
Like, I was a very mediocre dieter.
When I stopped drink soda, cut back on treats, and started measuring my food, I slimmed down a little.
But, then I couldn't deal with my emotions and I would binge eat.
Like gallons of ice cream at a time binging. Waffles and pancakes slathered in peanut butter and syrup. Chips and salsa. Popcorn slathered in butter. And lots of candy.
Then I gained weight. Like a lot, at once. Stretch marks ripped up my thighs and flanks. My breasts double in sized. Oh, low rise jeans? Muffin top city.
I felt insecure, broken, and worthless.
I was a hot mess. And not because I was using food to cope, but because my emotional needs were a hot mess and food COULD NOT sooth my pain.
I read the book Feeding the Hungry Heart by Geneen Roth and it rocked my world. I realized I was using food to emotionally cope.
Dieting caused me to lose my only coping skill I knew. I could willpower through it for a hot minute, but then the pain would overwhelm me and I would eat, eat, eat.
Here is what I learned, I had to learn to cope without food. And honestly, the motivation for this was to stop gaining weight and lose weight. I was just like you. Being on the other side of it, I know it's not about weight-loss. It's about healing. It's about finding other coping skills to add to my tool belt.
The main tool I used to heal from emotional eating was self-compassion & mindset work. I didn't know it at the time that was what I was doing, but yep, I had to stop hating myself, talk to myself with kindness, and use the power of my thoughts to create lifelong & sustainable change.
How to cultivate self-compassion:
-Use kind words
-Know you aren't alone
-Mindfulness over judgement
This leads to self-acceptance. When you can cope with our feeling & emotions, you can accept who we are. When you like who we are NOW, is how you can make positive changes.
---Self-compassion is the TOOL needed to cope with painful and uncomfortable EMOTIONS----
This is WHY dieting has NOT worked in the past. You can't HATE yourself & create positive CHANGE at the same time. That will fail. Every. Time. How many diets have you failed? And why diet? Because you hate your body. Nope, start with self-compassion, end with sustainable health changes.
How to increase your self-compassion:
- Journal your emotions: track the feeling, the trigger, why, & validate your feelings
- Talk to yourself like you are talking to your kids
-Self-Care!!! Meet your basic needs first (sleep, food, water, clothes that fit)
-Show compassion to others
Use the worksheets below to cultivate your self-compassion and learn to work through your painful emotions.
You can do it. I did it. I learned to cope in other ways.
Mostly, I learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
I stopped numbing feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, and stress. I used those emotions as 'alerts' that I needed to take different actions or make different decisions.
That's when I started living a life meeting my own needs on my own terms.
And that has made me a mom who is NOT racked with guilt, shame, anxiety, or stress.
My needs are important. Not the most important. Nor always the first to be met. But they are important.
So are yours. Your feelings are real. When you stop using food to numb out, you will start living your life on your own terms. And it feels so good!
Want to learn more about how to end emotional eating? Book a free consult to learn what is really causing you to emotionally eat and what you can do about now.