Emotional Eating

licensed public domain
by: Chrisdesign acquired from OCAL (Website)

I opened Lifexcel Carolina almost 4 months ago. During that time I’ve had the privilege to work with clients on identifying why they overeat, underexercise or both. During week one of nutrition I ask people to keep a food diary. I ask them to consider everytime they eat whether they are eating from physical hunger, emotional hunger or because they are prompted by an external cue such as the smell of popcorn at the movies. What I am finding out is fascinating. Many people who are emotional eaters have a hard time putting a descriptive word on an emotion. These are people who have numbed out their feelings for years with food. They don’t know what true anxiety, for example, feels like because as soon as they start to feel anxious, they eat. Then their mindset changes from anxiety to self loathing. “How could I have eaten that? I have no willpower. I’m so gross.” They don’t ever let themselves fully feel anxiety. Emotional eaters may do this with select emotions or with all of their emotions.

If this is you, step one is to learn how to identify your feeling. What does anxiety physically feel like in your body? Does your heart race? Does your chest tighten? Do you get dry mouth? Behavior coaching is a perfect place for these people to figure out what emotions feel like and then work towards how to process the emotion without reaching for food.

Some people numb out their feelings by drinking. Some do it by gambling or shopping. Many, many people do it with food. I was one of those people. Today I am honored to work with those who are just beginning the journey. Food is the most widely abused anti-anxiety drug in America. I spend my days trying to change that.