The Uncomfortable Truth About Emotional Eating
If ever these was a case for demonstrating the role your mindset plays in your weight loss success, it’s the uncomfortable truth about emotional eating.
Although we tend to categorise all eating for non-hungry reasons as emotional, there are actually three different type of eating that we do even when we’re not hungry, and they each have an impact on your weight.
In this video we’ll introduce you to all three types of non-hungry eating*. Watch the video below:
*Non-hungry eating is a registered trademark of Rick Kausman, author of If Not Dieting, Then What?
This is the type of eating we do to relieve or soothe our emotions – a way to bury feelings with food. Emotional eating can play havoc with your weight loss efforts.
2. Mindless Eating
Mindless eating is the type of eating you do when you’re not really aware of what you’re putting into your mouth. Brian Wanskink, is his book Mindless Eating, says that we make over 250 food decisions every day, 200 of which we can’t really explain.
3. Habitual Eating
Habitual eaters often associate food with a particular environment or particular time of day, and they continue to eat a certain food whenever those environmental or time-sensitive cues are there.
Over the next three weeks, we’re going to to cover each of these in turn: what they are, why we eat like this and how to manage our eating better so we don’t keep turning to food because we’re upset, not being mindful or purely out of habit. What I wanted to do today was to introduce you to Emotional, Mindless and Habitual eating because they are going to sabotage your ability to lose weight, or keep weight off, unless you take charge of them. As we write the posts and upload the videos, we’ll come back and provide links so you’ll have a 4-part series on how to take charge of your emotional, or mindless, or habitual eating (or all three!).
Why I’m writing about eating for non-hungry reasons
I’ve wanted to put this series together since the beginning of the year because I went through a bout of emotional eating myself. Having had an eating disorder followed by me doing a lot of work on changing my relationship with food, I don’t tend to do much emotional eating nowadays. You’ll find that the better your mind and body connection, and the better you are able to deal with your emotions, the less you’ll feel the desire to eat emotionally, mindlessly or out of habit. And, most of the time, I’m in charge of when, why and how I eat.
However, a few weeks ago I went through almost a week of becoming quite occupied with food. Day after day I didn’t just feel like having an afternoon treat, I would go out of my way to get a cake, buy a packet of biscuits or throw something together that was sweet and comforting. Every night after dinner I thought “I may as well” have some chocolate, which resulted in a few chunks of whatever I could find. When I went to the movies at the weekend, I bought a large packet of chips with the full intention of devouring the whole packet on my own.
This may not sound like a big deal to you. But, for me, I knew there was something wrong. I may do this kind of thing now and again, for a day, but not for days on end like this. I was eating emotionally, mindlessly and habitually, and when almost a week had gone by I knew I had to look a little deeper.
So, I took a step back and asked myself what was going on. Why was food occupying a large than usual space in my mind and my life? Why did I keep acting on all of my cravings? Why did I have this “I may as well eat it” mindset?
The answer was that I was feeling totally overwhelmed. I was juggling too many things, I wasn’t resting enough, I wasn’t tuning into my need for a comfort and reassurance deeper than a temporary fix with food. And that one powerful emotion had resulted in almost an entire week of eating for non-hungry reasons.
Food is a powerful force…
Going through this experience reminded me how dominating and debilitating it feels to have food be such a powerful force in your life. And how much you can beat yourself up for feeling that you should be able to just not have those yearnings for food…that you should be stronger and better than that.
The truth is, food is an extremely powerful force in our lives and it frustrates me no end that so many weight loss gurus make light of our connection to food. All you need to do, they say, is simply stop eating so much and you’ll be able to stop this terrible habit overnight.
If only it were that simple…
Changing your relationship with food so that you respond more naturally to your body’s hunger cues, eat when you’re hungry and only occasionally eat “for the hell of it” is not an overnight process. It takes weeks, months, even years, to be in flow with why, what and how you eat.
And that’s why we decided to put together this 4-part series about eating for non-hungry reasons.
Next week we’ll look at emotional eating because that’s the one that has the biggest impact on your weight, your mindset, and how you feel about yourself.
As for me, it wasn’t until I took a step back from my non-hungry eating that I was able to start managing my overwhelm better, which led to me resuming my normal eating patterns.
I hope, after going through this series, that you’ll be able to do a similar process yourself.
So, are you ready to take charge of your non-hungry eating?!