Ladies, what is emotional eating?
Nipa Asharam

Nipa Asharam
29 May 2020

This article is authored by Nipa Asharam. Nipa is a full-time practising life coach and wellness coach under the brand 'Eat.Breathe.Smile'.

How did emotions and food get so deeply connected? How did we create an automatic message system in our body that has been passed from one generation to another? This isn’t new and it has been discussed before. The problem is getting bigger and the consequences of it can be long lasting, so we need to see the foundation that laid this habit in the first place.

Clearly the emotions are strong enough that transpires an immediate action towards food. Here are the emotions and where they came from:

Emotion 1: I did well so I deserve a treat!
Good Skin Besan Take a trip down memory lane to the times when you did well in exams or won a race in your annual sports meet. The reward was an ice-cream or chocolate or maybe some spicy chips! It is different when this was seen as one of the rewards, but this became a regular pattern. We didn’t stop this as we grew up. We now see weekends as a time for indulgence, stemming from the same emotion but we do not co-relate it. What if the reward was a healthy but yummy meal or a day out filled with activities – wouldn’t we see that as a reward today for celebrating milestones? I do have a healthy chocolate post a week’s great workout but it is in moderation and it is yet healthy.

Emotion 2: I went through a tough time, I need to feel better – where is my favourite ice-cream?

I will take you down memory lane once again to show you that this came from our childhood as well. We cried and we were offered food. We went through some of our first bad experiences and the soothing mechanism was again food. We do this now as well. If we are having a bad time at work or going through a tough patch in relationships, food becomes the answer instead of feeling the negative emotions and asking the right questions.

Emotion 3: I hate my body, so how does it matter what I put in?

Body image issues are also deeply rooted in how we were told to not eat food because we were plump. I do not think that the message was incorrect as regards to our elders wanting us to eat healthy but it was done through a body shaming set of words. Some can be really harsh and be a part of our sub-conscious. We hate our body and don’t think it deserves the right food till we don’t love it. We do not think of any repercussions until then at all. It is our way of telling our body – ‘look I hate you anyway, so it doesn’t matter what I put in you’.

Emotion 4: I will binge today because I need it and will take care of it tomorrow

Negative self-talk that we do to convince ourselves that this is what we need today, no matter what and we shall compensate for it tomorrow, is another emotional eating habit. It starts with once a month and then becomes bi-weekly or even weekly. We become a couch potato and find it too hard to even understand mindful eating. Negative self-talk is quite sabotaging at various levels because we either we are victimizing or blaming ourselves for situations around us constantly! This leads to a general mode that nothing is right with me and therefore what is the point of any self-care.

Emotion 5: I am not in a ‘good enough’ state of mind

Self-care and self-love come more naturally when we think we are worthy of it. In today’s competitive world, we consume information in a way that makes us feel we lack a lot of things. This leads us to not have any self-care routine or habits that can keep us grounded and connected to our source. Automatically, it creates a spiral of sadness, anxiety and ‘I am not good enough’ feeling. In order to deal with this, we go all out with food. Loving who you are is very important to deeply take care of yourself and what you put into your system – food and thoughts.

The consequences of emotional eating are weight gain, lack of purpose and even chronic health issues such as cholesterol, diabetes, hypothyroid and long-term damage to our cells.

Instead of trying to control this with rules, willpower and discipline and feel negative emotions, find a route to work on it that is sustainable. This will solve emotional eating naturally.


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