Do you reach for the potato chips when you are bored? Turn to pizza when you are happy? Or down a bowl of ice cream when you are stressed? Emotional eating – eating in response to feelings as opposed to hunger – is one of the most common causes of weight gain. Everyday triggers include over-excitement; anger or resentment; boredom/anxiety; loneliness; and feeling numb.
Over-excitement typically happens in a social setting. If you find yourself getting caught up in the momentum of a party or special occasion, and lose the awareness of your own hunger level, it’s very easy to consume a lot of excess calories. A simple example is when people eat to accommodate others or fit in.
The emotion of over-excitement, although it sounds like a desirable feeling, does not come from a place of being grounded and centered. The feeling of being over- excited causes you to loose the connection with yourself and triggers enmeshment with the people around us. So suddenly, the boundaries disappear and you find yourself eating what everyone else in the crowd is eating.
Tip: Keeping a portion of your awareness on yourself while engaging with others is a practice of being aware of your own personal boundaries.
Anger and resentment are probably the most detrimental emotions to try to suppress. Whether you try to suppress anger with food, alcohol or drugs; it is all an act of violence to oneself. The energy attached to using a vise as a form of anesthesia is a self-inflicted act of violence.
All humans are angry; some of the nicest people can be the angriest people. We are angry with our parents, our spouses, our bosses, our kids, however, mostly we are angry with ourselves. Primarily this is because we are humans and humans have limitations. Our limitations include sleeping when we are tired, eating when our bodies need fuel, and resting when our brains need to recreate. The majority of anger comes from having to operate here on earth with a human body that needs tenderness, love and compassion.
However, when you allow yourself to feel and release anger is it one of the powerful, useful energies there is. We all need to give ourselves permission to get in touch with our anger. Anger will propel you into action.
There are many different belief systems when it comes to anger, such as expressing anger is dangerous, it is not lady like, it is childish etc. However learning how to feel and release the vibration of anger will not only propel you forward into action, it will allow you to move on in a state of grace and authenticity which will lend itself to better communication.
Tip: Use a journal to validate feelings of anger. Write instead of eat.
Most of us are used to a certain pace of life. Our rhythms dictate most of what we do. It can be very disconcerting when the pace is suddenly interrupted and we find ourselves with extra time on our hands. Being bored or anxious can be very agitating. If you are not comfortable with your thoughts, or yourself, downtime can cause anxiety.
This is often one of the reasons people will turn to food. Eating feels as though you are doing something. Eating acts as distraction.
Tip: Remove yourself from your environment. Go for a walk, read, take a bubble bath with candles. Find ways to increase your relationship with pleasure. When you have more pleasure in your life you will be nourished on a deeper level. This does not have to be a big vacation; sometimes all you have to do is allow yourself to feel the energy of pleasure.
Loneliness is deeper than just being bored during a particular time frame. Eating because you are lonely or feel empty is an attempt to fill a void. Eating for this reason can be harder to identify because the ego will likely protect you more furiously, due to the tenderness of the issue.
This is a deeper issue because it truly stems from not having an intimate connection with yourself and your true passions.
This is a heart issue. If you do not allow enough sweet things or make room for comfort, you can find yourself unconsciously eating sweets and foods that are consider comfort foods.
Craving comfort foods most likely has an emotional conditioned response attached to it. Eating these foods is a way of “going home.” It is a calling for tenderness and compassion.
Tip: Sit, breath deeply and ask yourself what do I want this food to really give me? What do I need in order to feel full?
It may sound surprising, but numb is a feeling also. Numbness is stress at its’ best! It is being completely void of all feeling. This happens if you continuously stay attached to the stream of thoughts inside your head. Most become so attached to their thoughts that they actually believe they ARE their thoughts. The truth is we have thoughts, however, we are not our thoughts. The same is true for feelings: we HAVE feelings, however, we are NOT our feelings.
If you are so involved with your thoughts, then most likely you are not in your body and therefore it is difficult to receive a factual message from the body on your hunger level. Therefore, eating becomes void of any senses. You are not slowing down and being mindful enough to send the brain the sensatory messages it needs to feel satisfied on multiple levels.
Tip: Try and “move downstairs” into your body. Although, it does not sound so dynamic, simple deep breathing is the first step to increase the space between thoughts. After slowing down the breath, begin to focus on the smell of the food, the texture of the food, the colors, and the flavors. Allow yourself to fully be present with the food before you. Allowing yourself to receive and fully embrace your meal will not only lead to needing less of it, it also lends itself to increase digestion and nutrient absorption.