I really enjoy food—different flavors, textures, colors and cuisines. At the same time, I try to eat in a healthy fashion and keep my weight within reasonable bounds. That said, I do at times engage in what's called "emotional eating." It doesn't matter whether I'm sad or whether I'm happy. Sometimes food is either for comfort or for celebration. Have you ever done that?
I remember years ago at Weight Watchers hearing the phrase, "Feel your feelings. Don't feed them." That makes sense. Even so, many of us have learned somewhere along the line to turn to food for a variety of emotions. In fact, I read in a recent issue of WeightWatchers magazine that research shows that more than half the people who are overweight are regularly affected by emotional eating.
The suggestion in that issue was rather than play mind games to get past emotional eating, instead to learn to live with uncomfortable emotions. As I think about that, it makes a good deal of sense. I often tell clients (and myself) to learn to be comfortable with discomfort from time to time. This can apply to transition periods between careers or between relationships. Anytime we leave a comfortable spot and move into something new, we may spend some time in that neutral ground or transition time that causes anxiety.
Instead of giving in to the anxiety, we can see what we might learn from it. So it is with those emotions that can lead us to grab for our favorite foods, too: Ask what the feelings might have to teach you. Ask what values might be under threat. You just might learn something new about what's important to you. And then you can make different choices than you might have by simply reacting to the feelings.
I plan to try this myself. We'll have to return to this at another time and see how it works. I'd love to hear from you if you try a new approach, too.
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