Stressed out and struck by a huge urge to munch, Suzie grabbed a bag of baby carrots instead of her favorite potato chips.
Craving cake after visiting a friend who just got engaged, Jill, who longed to find a romantic partner, drove home and ate a big bowl of plain yogurt sprinkled with chocolate chips instead of driving to the bakery.
Hankering for a snack when bored at work, Tim bought almonds from the vending machine instead of his usual bag of M&Ms.
Well-Intended, Ineffective Strategy
Each of these folks was proud to share with me their “win”—that is, their decision to go for a healthier option when a craving hit.
And yes, I agree. They should feel proud of themselves for making a more thoughtful choice.
Yet, while carrots, yogurt and nuts may be more nutritious than chips, cake and candy, eating food—no matter what it is—to cope with uncomfortable emotions is a well-intended, ultimately ineffective strategy.
Although eating brought them a moment of pleasure, distraction and relief, once they were done, Suzie’s stress persisted, Jill’s sadness and loneliness remained, and Tim was still bored silly.
Learn Another Way
Rather than use food (or booze, pot, shopping, screen time, etc.) to suppress challenging feelings, I teach my clients how to identify and address their emotional hungers. To feel—not feed—their feelings.
When they learn how to understand and meet their true needs, their emotional eating diminishes and their overall wellbeing improves.
Learn more by reading about how I crumbled a mad cookie craving here.