Emotional eating is something that all of us do and will continue to do. However, I am a firm believer in that we can recognize when we are emotionally eating and get curious about what it is that we need. I want to help you to stop emotional eating.
What is Emotional Eating
The words describe themselves. When we are emotionally eating, we are eating to fill a void that we feel emotionally or to fulfill an emotion we feel. Whether it be discomfort, sadness, grief, anger, or joy and happiness.
The problem is that so many women are trying to stop emotional eating. They believe that if they could find the right way of eating or the perfect workout, then emotional eating wouldn’t be a problem.
Emotions are internal. Can external things we do help? Yes, but that doesn’t get to the root of the issue.
Why Do You Keep Eating Your Feelings
Eating can be a way to temporarily silence or “stuff down” uncomfortable emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame.
While you’re numbing yourself with food, you can avoid the difficult emotions you’d rather not feel. Boredom or feelings of emptiness.
If you are not used to expressing what you feel with others, with God, or have been afraid to, you will find some kind of outlet to express your feelings or needs. Even though temporarily a relief comes. It’s often followed by shame (you are bad) because the need wasn’t met, and the feelings weren’t fully expressed.
Emotional eating isn’t bad unless it’s our only way of coping.
Breaking Free from Emotional Eating
One is that we try to approach our pain with what I call toxic positivity or blind optimism. This is where we don’t even name the pain or specifically name what hurts. However, we expect what is good in life to cancel what is hard. It doesn’t tolerate pain and joy sitting together in the same room.
On the other extreme, we take our painful emotional experiences and treat our feelings like they are the most real part of us. As my friend Nicole likes to say, “There’s a difference between feelings being real and feelings being true.”
We get to choose how we steward our pain and the kinds of things that we gently say to our pain. Sometimes we need to slow down and learn how to rest.
Since we can not solve emotional hunger with food, naming your pain is one of the first steps to begin breaking free from emotional eating. Unless you know what pain you’re speaking to, you can’t speak the truth to it. So a common mistake we make is that we tend to speak in the language of identity a lot more than we speak in terms of our circumstances. If you are feeling powerless, helpless, or disempowered to change how you feel and interact with your life, the common mistake is to say: I’m loved.
As people, we have inherent value. But if the pain that we or somebody else is feeling is disempowered, helpless, or out of control, it’s not going to speak to the heart of that emotional experience. So you have to specifically name either: How do I feel about myself? Or how do I feel about my circumstances? In order to be able to speak the truth we need to actually address the pain. I would say that is the first practical step to breaking free from emotional eating.
How to Deal with Emotional Eating Biblically
Understanding and knowing these five things become the foundation from which our actions stem from:
- We are comforted by God. He leaves us with His promises for us in our relationship with Him.
- We can trust God with this situation and our feelings.
- When we know God cares, we will cast our cares upon Him. We don’t have to do it alone.
- Knowing God loves us provides us with safety, knowing we are seen, heard, and loved. God hears your prayers and your cries.
- Knowing about God’s nature and character. The strength of our relationship with God is directly related to our understanding of God.
Our actions must be rooted in these five things to break free from emotional eating. It’s not to say we will never emotionally eat. It’s to say when we do, we will recognize and not be controlled by our feelings.
If overeating, emotional eating, and binge eating feel impossible to break free from, join me in my course Biblical Framework to Overcome Emotional Eating.