The mind-body connection is very real. It affects every aspect of life and it is only through understanding this connection that you can endeavor to improve those areas of life that are causing the most problems. Emotional eating falls into this category.
There’s no guilt in admitting that you use food to make yourself feel better. Let’s be honest, we all do this to a degree giving ourselves sweet treats when we feel down or perhaps, rewarding ourselves when something has gone well. This often comes from learned behaviors during childhood.
If you think back, you may recall times as a child when you were given treats – perhaps to make you feel better if unhappy or unwell. Or to be kind and to spoil you. These acts of kindness and love were meant to be good but are likely to have enforced the inner message that having food for comfort when unhappy is fine.
The Mind-Body Connection
Think about a time recently when you may have felt upset, tired, or a little despondent. Did you experience the urge to comfort eat? Was the temptation overwhelming to reach for your favorite foods?
Consider this, were you eating to satisfy hunger or just to make yourself feel better? It doesn’t matter whether it was a bar of chocolate, a pizza, or your favorite drink, it depends on why you wanted it.
Let’s be clear, having a treat isn’t always a bad thing. You might be celebrating, but if your reason for indulging is because it is your main emotional coping mechanism, this is where the problem lies. The danger? It forms an unhealthy cycle, and your inner emotions or the cause, are not actually addressed.
When you have deeply rooted emotional needs, they cannot be satisfied by food. Of course, it may feel good at that time but, afterward, you are likely to feel worse. Especially when knowing that you have fallen back into the same old trap and you have a lot more calories inside of you– unnecessary ones at that.
It doesn’t matter how out of control your emotional eating is, it is still possible to make positive changes and to learn new healthy behaviors. You can start to eat mindfully, appreciating your food, recognizing what you are eating and to call a halt to mindless emotional eating.
Emotional Eating Can Happen in an Instance
There’s no shame if you’ve been falling into emotional eating. When your emotional state drops or when you feel isolated and alone, it’s easy to turn to food as a way to cope. It’s also easy to mistake this deeply-rooted emotional hunger for actual hunger.
You can often tell the difference between eating for the sake of it and eating because you are hungry. You turn to specific foods when comfort eating and it tends to not be nutritious foods but sugary snacks. When you indulge in emotional hunger, you’ve eaten those snacks before you have even given it a second thought.
Sadly, you are rarely satisfied afterward. You need more. How many times have you opened a sweet treat and looked down and found the packet empty? Did you enjoy the taste and did it satisfy your hunger or did you just need to fill an emotional void?
It’s important to realize that emotional eating will often lead to feelings of guilt. You feel bad because you know that you succumbed to something that hasn’t really help you.
Emotional Eating Triggers
If you want to stop this never-ending cycle, then you need to consider the triggers. Usually, emotional eating has a direct correlation unhappy emotions. You may find that stress makes you turn to that bar of chocolate in the evening, especially if you have had a difficult day and just want to make yourself feel better. When your body is flooded with the stress hormone, cortisol, it makes you desire sweet or salty foods, those that will give you a very quick boost of energy. The more stress, the more the desire for these unhealthy foods.
Equally, you may be hiding from some very difficult emotions, ones that you haven’t resolved. You may not even realize that these emotions exist. Either way, comfort eating only numbs the pain, it does not resolve it. If you are bored, lonely, or feel that there is something significant missing from your life, consider what this is. It could be that your relationship is not working or you are not valued at work. Perhaps, there have been a lot of family difficulties. You may feel under an enormous amount of pressure and are struggling to cope. Remember that distraction techniques only work in the short term.
Ready to Find the Solution?
To resolve the cycle of emotional eating, you need to understand why you’re feeling the way you are. Take some time to write down potential reasons and triggers and get to know yourself a little better. This can be quite emotional, and if you feel tearful, that’s okay. Let the emotions out. It can become a long list, and once you start writing, you may find that the words just pour out. Don’t worry if they do. This is a therapeutic process.
Hopefully, you’ll come to understand why you can do something about it. First, be kind to yourself. You deserve to have a great life and to heal any inner wounds.
Meditation and the Mind-Body Connection
Meditation is a wonderful way to create a sense of unity and peace in your life. If you are new to meditation, try to do a little each day and persevere. Just find ten minutes a day at first, find a comfortable position to sit or lie in and close your eyes. Try to clear your thoughts, pushing them back while you find a quiet space. Focus on your breathing first of all and notice only the inhaling and exhaling. Your mind may wander and thoughts may bombard you initially. In time, you will master quiet contemplation. As you progress, you can use guided meditations or use meditation to promote inner healing. The important aspect is to find inner peace and to cultivate it.
Yoga and the Mind-Body Connection
Yoga means union. Many people focus on the physical exercises rather than making yoga a way of life. It’s the perfect system to help distract you from boredom, from loneliness or where there is an empty void inside. On a physical level, it will tone and shape you. It increases confidence and self-esteem. It offers inner peace. Yoga distracts you when emotional eating rears its ugly head and tempts you. You don’t have to go to the gym or pay for expensive membership fees.
Try yoga at home. Invest in a yoga DVD and study each posture and the correct alignments. Once emotional eating stops becoming a habit, there will be less need to indulge.
Emotional eating may have played a significant part in your life for a long time and so, it will take time to overcome it. Do not become frustrated, just accept that this is a transitional period and that in time. Learning to say no to emotional eating will become a new favorable habit.