Your relationship with food, no matter how conflicted, is the doorway to your freedom. Freedom from the morning battle with the person looking back at you from the mirror and judging every roll on your back and dimple on your thigh. From the scale that reads, “holy cow, that’s a high number” to sucking in your tummy every time you meet someone you have not seen in a while. Harriet Tubman once said, “I freed a thousand slaves; I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves”. Your unbreakable cycle of weight gain and loss might be more than just bad food choices and sedentary lifestyle. It might be something that you are not even aware of; it could be accredited to the self sabotage effects of emotional eating. Emotional eating is when you eat not because of hunger but due to loneliness, happiness, boredom, sadness, anger, emptiness; or just filling a void or numbing a pain. Some people would reach for a pint of ice cream when they are confronted with a conflict at a workplace. Or binge on a box of cookies after an argument with a loved one. Sometimes, you eat because you are disappointed that your favorite jeans no longer fit, and you end up fueling the fire or creating a secondary problem instead of doing the logical thing which is facing and resolving the original issue. Emotional eating is a compulsion you develop to protect yourself from confronting the undesired and the intolerable.
It is hard to fix a problem when you do not know its nature or the fact that you are indeed suffering from a problem. So first figure out if you are an emotional eater. You might be an emotional eater if you are always on a diet yet cannot keep off the weight. You go through a bag of chips without even tasting or enjoying it. You are always being consumed by thoughts of food, eating when not hungry, then feeling terribly guilty for doing so. Turning to food during stress or when faced with a conflict. Those are undeniable signs, and they should not be ignored.
To get rid of emotional eating, you have to implement two solutions, one psychological and the other physical. Address the problem, psychologically, by digging deeper into yourself. Open up and look inside you, and without judgement, ask yourself serious questions about how you feel. Do not fear your answers, meet your feelings with openness. Deal with them no matter how painful. If you find them too overwhelming to handle on your own, talk to a family member or a friend. Call a help line. Or even write them down then read them out loud to yourself, and you will be surprised to find out that they no longer hold power over you. Remind yourself how strong you are, and how you deserve to be in a better place and deserve to be happy. Once the psychological solution has been cemented then you can start on the physical.
To some, the physical aspect can be much easier to manage. Use these steps to help you practice awareness eating:
1. Do not eat until you are emotionally comfortable.
2. Set time for your meals.
3. Dish out a serving size portion in a small dish or bowl, never eat from a bag or box.
4. Sit down and eat on a table, in a calm environment, in full view of others.
5. Pay intention to your chewing, contemplate about what is in front of you, taste it, and take pleasure in it.
6. Eat without distractions such as surfing the net, listening to music, or reading.
7. Sip water between bites.
8. Do not skip meals.
9. Learn to recognize hunger and fullness cues.
Free yourself from the the shackles of emotional eating, and tell yourself that having a bad moment during a 24 hour day is not a good enough reason to punish your body by eating whatever you can get your hands on. Establish a positive relationship between your emotions and food in order to take charge of your body and put an end to weight fluctuations. Use food for fuel not comfort or escape.