Is Emotional eating that bad?
Emotional eating without guilt is just listening to your body and giving it what it needs in the moment.
Emotional eating is a real thing, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There’s a negative connotation around being an “Emotional Eater” that comes from the guilt surrounding the emotional eating.
There is a reason why some foods are considered “comfort foods”– because eating them fills your body and your soul. Because they are delicious, hearty and they make you feel physically and emotionally good.
Does Food make you feel “Good” or “Guilty”?
Food has the power to make you feel good–physically and emotionally–so we should work to harness that power for good rather than for evil.
Using the power of food for good means acknowledging that food won’t solve your problems, but it CAN help you feel better in the moment. Using the power of food for good means eating something because you’re conscious that it’s what your body (and mind) are asking for–because you’re making the conscious decision to eat it and then to move on.
Using the power of food for evil means eating to ignore your problems. It can mean eating to punish yourself for feeling a certain way or to punish yourself for the way things are going in your life. When you eat to ignore what’s really going on, to solve your problems, or to punish yourself, chances are you’re going to feel guilty about it. The guilt is what makes eating emotionally a bad thing.
Using the Power of Food for Good or for Evil:
The power of nourishing comfort food is only there if you CONSCIOUSLY give that food the power to nourish you.
If you’re choosing to make a conscious decision to eat based on your awareness of the situation, then any food can become a nourishing comfort food. Any food can have the power to nourish your mind & soul, and sometimes the foods that nourish your soul are not the same foods that nourish your body (at least in the beginning).
A food only has power when YOU give it power. So, let’s give food power from a conscious place of loving awareness.
Know YOUR nourishing comfort foods
Be deliberate about comforting yourself with food. Know what foods you love and know which of those foods you really enjoy eating. When you put time into creating a list of your own, personal nourishing comfort food, you’ve already taken one step toward making that conscious decision to eat those foods.
When you have a list (either on paper or in your head) that are designated as YOUR comfort foods, it can change how you feel about eating them and increase their comforting power. For example, I have dark chocolate sea-salted caramels from Whole Foods on my nourishing comfort food list, so when I make the decision to eat them, I appreciate them for how they make me feel, rather than feeling guilty about eating them.
If having dark chocolate sea-salted caramels on your list of nourishing foods is scary (like you might eat the whole box and then feel guilty about it), start off with some of the foods you know make you feel good PHYSICALLY– like fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. OR find a “healthier” version of your favorite treats. Nourishing comfort foods can take any form– from shepherd’s pie to Paleo cookie dough truffles to pecan pie bars.
Listen to your inner body cues
When comes to eating and emotional eating in particular, I often find myself having a conversation with that little voice inside of my head. Sometimes she’s negative, sometimes she’s encouraging, but I know it’s important to listen to her to figure out what she needs. Listening to this little voice will only help you make an informed decision about whether to choose a comfort food and what kind of comfort food to choose.
The listening to that little voice is a part of listening to your inner body cues to figure out what she wants– and to figure out what’s really going on. Listening to that little voice will help you make the conscious decision to comfort yourself with food, and give you some clues as to how to solve your problem.
Foods can comfort but won’t solve your problem
The most powerful thing about the power of comfort foods is knowing that these foods have the power to comfort you, but not the power to solve your problems. Once you are aware of, and acknowledge this, you’re truly able to give comfort foods the power to nourish you.
Non-food activities that also comfort you
Because you know that eating will not solve your problems, it’s important to find other, non-food ways of working toward making yourself feel better, and actually solving your problem.
– Comfort food is best used along with a non-food way of making progress toward solving your problem.
– Take some time to make another list of non-food activities that lift you up and make you feel better–activities that will help you make progress toward solving your problem.
– If your problem is that you’re stressed about a conflict with your boss, think of some activities that you love to do that will help you relieve that stress– taking walks, reading a book, or confronting your boss about the problem. Okay, so those are kind of lame examples, but it makes sense because finding a way of REALLY solving your problem is what you might be using food to hide from. This is where the hard, soul-searching work comes in.
Free yourself from the Guilt:
The more you practice making conscious decisions and being mindful about food, the easier it gets. It’s okay if you can’t do it at first– at least you’re aware of the need to do it in the future. Reading this post has made you aware, and awareness is the first step toward real change. You are making progress every time you think about this blog post when you’re eating those dark chocolate sea-salted caramels because you’re stressed. It’s all a part of your own, personal experimentation.
Every time you think about making a conscious decision, you’re making progress toward using the power of comfort foods for good rather than evil. When used for “good,” any food has the power to become a nourishing comfort food. You consciously choose to give this food the power to help you feel better, while acknowledging that it won’t solve all of your problems.