I don’t know if you are familiar with this term, but I believe that most of us know what it feels like being under a lot of stress, overwhelmed with emotions (sadness, anxiety, fear, loneliness, dissatisfaction with our life, career, love life), being bored to death, being humiliated etc.
And I bet that something like that has happened to many of us, because it has happened to me hundreds of times for sure!
You are in a very emotional state, stressed out and you reach out for a box of chocolates or cookies or bucket of ice-cream and eat the whole thing by yourself till your stomach hurts. Or you order the whole big pizza for yourself, or stop by some store buying chocolates, cookies, candy bars, pastry, frozen pizzas etc. The scenario can be different for each of us. The type of food, the amount of food and the circumstances will vary but most of us were at that place at some point in life.
Then one night we wake up (because it usually it happens late at night, doesn’t it?) feeling awful and realize that nothing has changed in our lives. Now we have more fat on our bodies, experience indigestion, bad moods, cravings for junk food, lack of energy, along with feelings of guilt and failure.
Usually promise ourselves that it’s never going to happen to us again no matter what and we’ll be just perfect for the rest of our lives. That lasts for awhile until our next black stripe of life occurs and we can’t handle our emotions again.
I personally have struggled with emotional eating from the time I was a teenager until I was 23 or 24 years old which was about 10 to 12 years! When I became a raw vegan and supposedly started eating very healthy and had a healthy relationship with my food, but even then I still suffered from emotional eating and binging.
I would overeat with nuts, avocados and raw desserts when I felt stressed, sad or overwhelmed. And because of that I couldn’t reach the goals I was working toward: better fitness, career, financial success, relationships and life goals.
Every time a difficult situation would come up or I would get closer to a breakthrough in some area of my life, I would get an amazing business/career offer or meet a possible life partner that was perfect for me, or I would get in better than average fitness shape. Something would happen that would potentially put me out of my comfort/safe zone.
I would get scared, overwhelmed and lose confidence. To find an excuse not to follow through and act, to become more and achieve more, I’d overeat and feel like crap for the next couple of days. Because of that I then stop taking steps toward my goal.
I just didn’t feel like I was good enough for anything amazing in my life and that was my version of self-sabotage.
Your story might be different and you might not even realize why exactly you suffer from emotional eating and binging. But the advice I’ll give you here will help you to find out the reasons for emotional eating and binging and will put an end to it.
Want to put an end to it now?
I have three simple non-dieting steps that helped me stop emotional eating once and for all. And it will help you too for sure if you just give it a chance and some time.
But before we list the steps, I want to clarify a couple of things:
1. Emotional eating or binging is when we eat for reasons other than physical hunger. Usually we eat much more than our body needs and we don’t stop eating when we feel we are full.
2. Emotional eating is a normal response of our body to stress. For human beings since the beginning of history, food has always been a symbol of safety, peace and abundance. If we had enough food it meant that for a while we have nothing to worry about, and that association is still somewhere deep in our brain.
3. We are not helpless creatures! We can be totally in control of our eating habits and start enjoying our food consciously instead of being afraid of it.
3 Steps to a Binge-Free Life:
1. Savor the food.
Usually when we binge in an intense emotional state we don’t eat slowly. We just put the food in our mouths and swallow it almost instantly. That happens because we are not really eating to taste the food but we are trying to numb some intense feelings and are using the food like pills/drugs/antidepressants.
Even when we reach out for some food in that emotional state—food that is not good for us—savor it, take one small bite at a time, chew slowly and breathe. Smell the food, appreciate it’s beauty and amount of work that was put into it, ask ourselves what it is we really crave?
Peace? Love? Excitement? Fulfillment?
Will the food give that to us really or is it just a temporal solution that will make us feel worse later? Stop beating yourself up and feeling guilty, talk to yourself, love yourself, breathe slowly and chew.
Another benefit of eating slowly is that our guts will have time to give a signal to our brains that we are full.
2. Deconstructing cravings.
Don’t try to get rid of cravings for forbidden food. Understand that cravings are absolutely normal. It’s a way our bodies tell us that we are missing something in our life and most often with these intense cravings, it’s something that can’t be eaten!
Maybe we miss someone, maybe we need love, a hug, quality connections with our friends and family or ourselves. Maybe we need more excitement in our personal life or career. The list is endless!
Or maybe it is a craving for a particular nutrient or vitamin that can be found in food (usually then we don’t feel like eating a particular kind of junk food because there is nothing in it really).
In any case, it is very important to talk to yourself at that moment. Ask yourself: what am I feeling right now? What do I really need at this moment? What am I missing in my life?
3. Experience emotions.
As I said before, emotional eating and binging happens because we are trying to numb some intense feelings. We are trying to release stress, feel peaceful, calm and relaxed.
But we don’t have to reach out for food to do that!
We can drink a glass of water, go to some place where we can be by ourselves, feel the emotions that we have at that moment and realize what feelings we are trying to numb with food. Why is it so hard for us to accept that emotion and just feel it?
Remember, even the most intense emotion will subside pretty fast and we definitely don’t want to add to emotional feelings of guilt and physical discomfort after eating.
Instead, try taking a walk on the beach, a relaxing bath, listen to your favorite music, or call a friend or family member. Change the pattern that hurts, and do something different!
Remember we are in control of our life. We can change any habit we have if we just make a real decision and take actions!
There is nothing wrong with us and this problem is just a small challenge we have that we can be easily overcome once we commit to it!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Dana Gornall
Photo credit: Lennie Locken/Pixoto