We all eat for different reasons. Some people turn to food in a crisis or when feeling upset. Others turn away from food and can’t possibly think about eating during an emotional time in their lives. But that’s just the nature of who we are as individuals.
Emotional eating is complex. Usually it’s an automatic response to another problem and our attempt at masking the real issue gives us momentary relief from having to face or deal with it.
Regarding emotional eating, I frequently say to my clients, “why create another problem in your life, when the only thing that turning to food will do is that it will probably lead to an increase in your weight, subsequently leaving you feeling weak and out of control.”
It would be far better to tackle the problem head on. Of course, this is easier said than done.
So how do you deal with emotional situations when they occur and at the same time be successful in not turning to food as a comfort?
Firstly, you have to scale your problem. In terms of 1-10 how important is the issue and how is it currently affecting your life? This is where documenting your thoughts can be helpful. Journaling is a good way of breaking down any issues. Putting feelings on paper assists us somewhat in off-loading the burden. Writing down both negative and positive points can be very helpful in self-recovery.
The 1-10 scale is a useful tool to establish what the crux of the problem is and how you could attempt to deal with it. We tend to ruminate (over-think) our problems, blow everything out of proportion in our mind, and panic, leading to increased anxiety and a genuine feeling of helplessness.
Therefore, it’s at this point we feel the need for instant gratification. A diversion to take the problem away. This desire to comfort eat does give some relief in making the issue subside momentarily. But the problem is still there and eventually enters our minds with even more vengeance than before because now we’re feeling guilty for using food as an escape mechanism.
The next time you have an emotional issue, starve it of its hold over you. Try talking it through with a friend or family member. Get it out into the open, don’t bottle it up. If you cannot talk it through, then write it down on paper, or better still walk it off. Exercise gives you an emotional release of pent up negative energy. The point being, the more you find ways of releasing the problem the less grip it has over you psychologically.
Ask yourself how important will this problem be in my life say in 6months or even a years’ time? Chances are it won’t even register in your life. How many times have we all beaten ourselves up over issues in the past we felt were too huge to deal with at that moment? I can only speak for myself and the answer is many times. But now when I think back, these same issues have become insignificant in my life. We are constantly changing and evolving in life and that is our purpose. To give and learn, to change and grow, otherwise what is the point of being here?
© Martina Gallivan. CBT Therapy for weight management 2015