The key to overcoming emotional eating has nothing to do with hiding the chocolate, tossing the chips, banning the ice cream, or sitting on your hands.
To overcome emotional eating, you must learn to tolerate feelings that feel intolerable.
It requires not running away from big, uncomfortable emotions, like anxiety, anger, sadness, loneliness and joy. Yes, even feelings of joy can be scary for some of us.
Many of us weren’t taught as children how to identify, investigate, understand and express our emotions.
Instead, we were taught how to escape, soothe and suppress them by eating food, watching TV, drinking booze, doing drugs, going shopping, staying silent, working long hours, and so on.
Protection from Pain
Although it may not seem like it, these coping strategies are a form of self-care and self-preservation. They are a way of taking care of yourself when life gets hard, a way of protecting yourself from pain and discomfort.
However, the short-term relief they provide often comes with painful long-term consequences. And the feelings that triggered the emotional eating still remain.
Change is Possible
The good news is, you can change how you deal (or don't deal) with your emotions.
Doing so requires becoming still and fully feeling, exploring and honoring what wants to be felt with compassion and curiosity.
It requires not being afraid to feel.
It takes commitment, practice and patience to rewire an ingrained behavior like emotional eating. You may find it helpful to get support from a therapist, coach, friend or support group.
Whatever path you take, trust that you can tolerate feelings that feel intolerable, and that you are not powerless over food or your emotions.
Your emotional eating is not a problem to solve, but a gift to open. It’s here to help you grow, if you’ll let it.