Nutrition

Is consuming the kindest means to deal with feelings?

Studying Time: 7 minutes

That is the seventh submit in a 10-part sequence wanting on the ideas of Intuitive Consuming. Final week’s submit was on Precept 6: Really feel Your Fullness.


Do you wrestle with emotional consuming — sometimes, generally or what looks like ALL the time? Have you ever overwhelmed your self up over it, or tried exhausting to squash your tendency to make use of meals to appease? Chances are you’ll have an interest on this little tidbit: earlier than the present version of “Intuitive Consuming,” Precept 7 was known as “Cope With Your Feelings With out Utilizing Meals.” As we speak, it’s generally known as “Cope With Your Feelings With Kindness.”

Why this shift? As a result of the truth is that generally, utilizing meals to appease your stress or uncomfortable feelings is the kindest selection — and generally it’s not. That makes making an attempt stamp out emotional consuming altogether very diet-culturey. Ironic, on condition that weight-reduction plan itself can set off feelings, which in the end results in utilizing meals as your major coping mechanism for coping with these emotions.

I’ve had shoppers who went by means of remedy for emotional consuming and had been assured your complete time that after they “cured” their emotional consuming, they might all of the sudden drop some weight. Nicely, that didn’t occur, and whereas exploring how we use meals emotionally is efficacious, that worth lies not in weight reduction, however in studying simpler methods to search out calm or consolation once we want it.

A short shopper instance

Mary had very robust emotional consuming tendencies stemming from childhood, when meals was her solely supply of consolation in a family with an emotionally distant father and a mentally ailing mom. We’d been working collectively for some time when she instructed me she’d had a really tough week. She needed to eat for consolation on a floor degree, as a result of that had been her go-to for many years, however to her shock, she found that deep down, she actually didn’t need to.

It occurred to her that when she was weight-reduction plan, which she had completed her complete grownup life, she was by no means totally, correctly nourished with sufficient meals to really feel comfortably full. This was partly as a result of she was unable to honor her starvation and had 1,000,000 meals guidelines due to the meals police. So by being continually underfed she was extraordinarily weak to emphasize, and wouldn’t simply eat, however overeat, to consolation herself.

As soon as she began constantly nourishing herself with each meals and joyful actions, she grew to become extra resilient to emphasize — plus, she recognized different methods to consolation herself when issues get robust.

The emotional consuming continuum

Emotional consuming isn’t the identical for everybody, and it takes completely different types.

  • Sensory gratification, or pleasure, is the mildest feeling that meals may produce, and this can be a regular a part of residing.
  • Consuming meals for consolation may be a part of a wholesome relationship with meals, should you do it whereas staying current, and with out guilt.
  • Persevering with down the continuum, many individuals use meals as a distraction from emotions they select to not expertise. Utilizing meals on this means could be a drawback, as a result of it blocks your means to detect your intuitive indicators.
  • A extra severe type of emotional consuming is utilizing it as sedation, to numb your self. Some individuals name this a “meals coma.” This retains you from feeling your emotions for an prolonged size of time, and it additionally makes it not possible to note cues of starvation or satiety.
  • In case you’ve by no means skilled it, the concept of consuming for punishment sounds odd, nevertheless it undoubtedly occurs. If you end up consuming very giant portions of meals in an virtually indignant, forceful method that leaves you feeling overwhelmed up, I would like you to know that you’re not alone. I had a younger shopper just a few years in the past who revealed to me, after I gently questioned her a bit, that she did this, and once I instructed her that this was truly a factor, and it wasn’t simply that one thing was horribly fallacious with HER, she was shocked. She actually thought that she was damaged.
Emotional consuming triggers

Emotional consuming triggers are plentiful, however listed here are a number of the most typical ones:

  • Boredom and procrastination. In different phrases, consuming to fill the time or delay doing duties you don’t actually need to do.
  • Bribery and reward. The roots of this typically begin typically in childhood. For instance, if you’re supplied a cookie after you fall down and pores and skin your knee, or a cake if you get good grades. In maturity, it could actually appear like this: “I labored exhausting as we speak, I deserve a cupcake.”
  • Pleasure. Actually utilizing meals so as to add pleasure when life will get boring.
  • Soothing. Consuming to really feel higher if you’ve had a troublesome day.
  • Love. Exhibiting your self — or others — love by means of meals.
  • Frustration, anger and rage. If these are your triggers, it’s possible you’ll discover that you simply search out crunchy or exhausting meals.
  • Stress. Stress is a serious set off for emotional consuming, nevertheless, the organic issues attributable to stress (elevated ranges of stress hormones, elevated blood strain, and many others.) are made worse should you additionally overeat because of stress. It’s price noting that dieters typically use stress as an excuse to “blow their diets.”
  • Nervousness. While you really feel butterflies in your abdomen, this will make you need to eat.
  • Gentle melancholy. The need to really feel higher and have extra vitality can immediate you to hunt a lift from meals.
  • Being related. The need for private connection can have an effect on how and what we eat once we’re having fun with meals in a social setting.
  • Loosening the reins. For some individuals, overeating is the one mechanism they’ve for letting go of the tight reins of management in the remainder of their life.
Inquiries to ask your self

Irrespective of the place you fall on the continuum, it doesn’t matter what your private emotional consuming triggers, dealing with emotional consuming begins with asking your self these questions:

  • First, ask your self, “Am I biologically hungry?” If the reply is sure, then honor your starvation and eat!
  • If the reply is “no,” then ask your self, “What am I feeling?” This isn’t at all times simple to reply, so it’s possible you’ll want to put in writing it out or speak to somebody, or just sit with the sentiments and expertise them, if that’s comfy for you. I’ve included some handouts in your worksheet packet that embrace lists of emotions, which may be useful if you’re making an attempt to determine precisely what YOU are feeling.
  • Then, as a result of many individuals eat to meet unmet wants, ask your self, “What do I would like?” In case you recognized that you simply’re bored, it’s possible you’ll want some leisure or stimulation. In case you establish that you’re feeling anxious, what it’s possible you’ll want is to really feel extra calm. If you’re feeling lonely, it’s possible you’ll want social connection, even when it’s over the telephone.
  • Then, ask for assist should you want it, or use one among your different coping instruments. Relying on what you’re feeling, this may increasingly imply watching a humorous film, going for a stroll to get a change of scene or blow off some steam, engaged on a jigsaw puzzle or studying a very good guide to distract your self, or meditating or listening to calming music to really feel much less anxious. That’s just some examples, after all!
Assembly your wants with out meals

If you end up burdened, upset, lonely or coping with different uncomfortable feelings, your have to really feel “much less dangerous” is a real and legit want. In case your emotions are insufferable, and meals is the one device it’s important to provide help to cope, then thank goodness when you have meals. However generally, the kinder selection is to search out various technique of coping. For instance:

  • Search nurturing by, for instance, enjoying together with your canine or cat, taking a soothing stroll or a bubble tub, spending time gardening, doing a little yoga, or just resting and enjoyable.
  • Take care of your emotions by acknowledging what’s bothering you. Permitting your emotions to come back up reduces your have to push them down with meals.
  • Discover a completely different distraction. A analysis research from a number of years in the past randomized members to 2 teams. Each teams had been proven an emotionally anxious movie, then one of many teams was given entry to meals, whereas the opposite was not. The group with meals entry engaged in emotional consuming, and clearly the opposite group couldn’t. Ultimately, each teams felt higher in the identical period of time, which demonstrates that it’s time, not meals, that issues once we need to really feel a bit higher. So discovering a non-food method to distract your self whilst you trip out the clock may be useful.

The underside line is that emotional consuming each helps and hurts. Right here’s a easy, but insight-provoking train you are able to do. Take a bit of paper, and:

  • On one facet, write down the methods through which utilizing meals emotionally serves you
  • On the opposite facet, write down the methods through which utilizing meals emotionally disserves you
The (perhaps) shocking advantages of emotional consuming

Whereas there are actual advantages to discovering non-food methods to deal with stress, boredom and feelings, it’s additionally necessary to contemplate What occurs when meals is now not necessary for consolation and soothing?

  • You don’t have the advantages of utilizing meals, which may be unhappy. Plus you’re caught experiencing your emotions.
  • And, these emotions could really feel stronger since you’re not protecting them up, which nudges some individuals to hunt counseling as a method to lastly course of them.

Apart from the truth that for some individuals, a number of the time, meals is the one device out there to make insufferable emotions really feel not SO insufferable, emotional consuming can have one other shocking profit—it could actually function a purple flag that one thing is occurring.

It may be a clue that your life is unbalanced with too many obligations, too little rest, or that one thing is simply not fairly proper for one more motive. It might appear unusual, however on this means, the urge to eat emotionally could be a present, should you discover the urge, then ask your self the am I hungry, what am I feeling, what do I would like questions.

As I discussed once I talked concerning the emotional consuming continuum, emotional consuming isn’t an issue if you use meals to nurture your self in a constructive, wholesome means. This contains selecting meals that really fulfill you, in addition to issues like hen soup if you’re sick or scorching cocoa when the climate exterior is dreary. It’s if you transfer down the continuum that it’s necessary to probe deeper about what’s occurring, bringing within the trifecta of compassionate self-awareness, curiosity and non-judgment.

Subsequent week, I’ll discuss Precept 8: Respect Your Physique.

This submit comprises Amazon Affiliate hyperlinks. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Carrie Dennett is a Pacific Northwest-based registered dietitian nutritionist, freelance author, intuitive consuming counselor, creator, and speaker. Her superpowers embrace busting diet myths and empowering girls to really feel higher of their our bodies and make meals decisions that help pleasure, diet and well being.

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