I didn’t realize I was emotionally eating until quite recently, which in hindsight sounds ludicrous.
It all started when I bought myself a half dozen cupcakes. (Let’s not judge.)
By the third cupcake, I realized I wasn’t really enjoying these delectable treats. Why was that? I had hand-picked them from my favorite bakery down the road. Why weren’t they lifting my spirits, taking my tongue on a sprinkle-swept journey to a sugary wonderland?
It was because I was bawling my eyes out, The Beach Boys playing in the background, and each bite was accompanied by a freshly-shed tear.
I know, it sounds absurd, right?
At least, now it does. At the time, I suppose I knew it was emotional eating; I bought the cupcakes with the aim of salvaging my broken heart. I thought that if I ate something so delicious and special, I would feel the same way.
But, food doesn’t work that way. It won’t make a person feel better out of its sheer existence.
It’s how we eat that food that makes it so savory.
If we’re in a set mood while we’re consuming something, the substance we’re consuming will embody that mood. For instance, for the past several years I’ve treated coffee like a lifeline IV shot straight to my bloodstream. It was my lifeline in the morning—not an enjoyable wake-me-up that could aid me in my daily habits. So, I enjoyed it less, and I needed more than just one cup to feel in higher spirits.
I’ve since changed this habit, but that happened after the cupcakes.
The cupcakes made me realize that we need to eat our food with intention. Otherwise, it won’t mentally sustain us in the way that we need.
Granted, there are many foods that have nutrients, which will naturally raise our spirits. However, say I’m eating Greek yogurt sprinkled with granola and fresh strawberries seven minutes before an incredibly stressful meeting I’ve been preparing for. If I project that anxiety and stress onto the yogurt, it’s going to taste just like that. If I give myself a moment to eat it slowly and enjoyably, I’ll receive so much more than I would had I shoveled it into my mouth.
I’ll receive a sustainable mood-lifter, made much more effective than just the nutrients.
Since the cupcake realization occurred, I’ve changed my entire way of eating. Each meal, I take a moment to step back and appreciate the sustenance in front of me. I give a silent prayer of thanks, and then—only then—do I dig in. Subsequently, with each bite I try to pinpoint what I like best about the food, even if what I like best is that it’s plain or hearty or pungent.
It’s improved my daily habits drastically.
Not only does this practice make me happier throughout the day, I’ve also found that I don’t need to consume as much as I had thought. Before, I could drink two to three cups of coffee before noon. However, now that I’m savoring my first cup, I feel that I don’t need that second or third cup so badly.
It’s the same with the cupcakes. I would never dream of buying half a dozen of cupcakes to ease my aching heart. I may buy myself one, but then I’d enjoy it twice as much as those six I needed before.
I’ve changed my practice to eating with intention—and it’s made all the difference.
The One thing that can Help us Overcome Emotional Eating.
Author: Brittany Ann Bandemer
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Lily Lvnatikk/Unsplash
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