In order to keep these conversations with you relevant, I like to draw on real-life experiences I am exposed to (generally with my coaching clients).
This was as a result of a conversation with a client the other day.
The context is they wanted to better understand why (exactly) – when they are upset – they quaff a couple of glasses of wine, while snacking thorough a bunch of chocolate bars.
I think we might all identify this as ’emotional eating’.
You experience a negative emotional state, which leads to binge eating.
And unfortunately, the binge eating generally does not involve carrot or celery sticks and a homemade organic dip.
It is most often high calorie, low nutrient, foods.
Why? Why? Why?
And what to do?
Let’s start with the WHY
There are a few potential reasons, and one of these might resonate more with you than others.
Firstly, the negative emotional state does not feel good, so we want it to “go away”.
The faster the better.
And we know from years of experience – consciously and subconsciously – that if we eat certain foods (generally high calorie foods) the resultant sugar hit will change our biochemistry and most likely our emotional state.
We also might have psychological associations with certain foods. For instance ‘comfort foods’ might have a psychological anchoring to a feeling of comfort, and feeling loved and safe.
One of the reasons why we might be experiencing a negative emotional stateis because we have fear or uncertainty around the unknown, which leaves us feeling fragile, vulnerable and unsafe.
Eating foods you are familiar with, gives you a familiar experience, a known experience, and therefore a greater sense of CERTAINTY.
This again, can be a combination of conscious and unconscious knowing.
Now when it comes to the ‘alcohol’ thing, we know it lowers our level of consciousness, and conscious awareness of our senses; so we can use it as a crutch to numb the feelings we don’t want to feel. We may also feel it relaxes us, because it relaxes the nervous system.
Essentially our emotional eating can be a way to temporarily avoid feeling what we don’t want to feel, and to change that feeling we don’t like, to a feeling we do like (complements of the foods we like, and the drinks that might numb us a little).
But here is another thing.
Often we might have a sense of regret or worse – guilt – for eating and drinking stuff we know isn’t good for us, and may not be supporting the physical look, vitality or feeling of optimum health, we aspire to.
And even more so…
The emotional eating does not really deal with, or heal, the root cause.
Which is where we will go next.
Dealing with the root cause
So here is my hypothesis.
We often do the conscious or unconscious emotional eating, and potential alcohol consumption, because we don’t want to feel with, or deal with, the negative emotional states we are experiencing.
Here is my observation, especially with my professional observations over the last 15-years.
If we don’t deal with stuff when it is a small issue, and avoid it, or distract ourselves from feeling it, it rarely if ever goes away, and it more likely starts to STACK.
Neither option is great for your evolution or your general happiness.
So here is what I recommend.
Since you are a grown up, you say to yourself that you can still eat and drink what you want, IF you decide you still want it; AFTER you do the following few steps.
- Get clear of what the negative emotional state is, you are feeling.
- Then ask these questions:
- “What am I telling myself that is causing me to feel this?”
- “How much of what I am telling myself is actually true?”
- “What is the Truth as I understand it?”
- “What can I do about it or not do about it?”
It might be best to do this as a written exercise onto a sheet of paper or into a journal.
You might also benefit from going for a walk, or stepping out into nature, to calm your mind a bit more, before you ask those questions.
And if you are really in a frazzle, I would recommend asking the questions while you are doing some Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is also known as Tapping, and which I explain in this YouTube video from the Life Masterclass program.
And if those methods don’t work, then reach out for some help, as opposed to that triple layered chocolate cake and bottle of wine.
The key points (and summary)
Emotional eating is VERY UNLIKELY to resolve the actual problems or root cause of the feelings you’re feeling.
Emotional eating has the potential to make you feel worse.
Dealing with issues – rather than avoiding, distracting or numbing – when they are smaller is a very WISE choice.
Getting clear of the REALITY of a situation is ALWAYS the better option.
Emotional eating is a LOWER brain activity.
Choosing to understand the ROOT CAUSE of the emotions you are feeling is a HIGHER brain activity, and the path to self-actualization and your full potential.
Pause. Look inwards. Gain knowledge and potential wisdom. Establish creative solutions. THEN eat and drink what you want (and you might actually find that your culinary desires and choice of beverages has changed back towards carrot and celery sticks).
My parting words
Everything that happens in our life is an OPPORTUNITY to learn and grow.
Raising higher or sinking lower is mostly determined by a conscious choice (by us as individuals), followed by aligned action.
Sweeping things under the rug (like uncomfortable feelings) is not a great growth strategy.
Be bold. Stay curious. Deal with reality. And don’t take life (or yourself) too seriously.
(Also keep less unhealthy food in your house and switch to 70% plus cacao in your chocolates ;-)).
Have a fabulous day and a reflective life-affirming week.