I grew up always wanting to be a little bit thinner, a little bit sexier, and a little bit stronger.
This meant that through a substantial chunk of my life, I tried to diet. Honestly, my weight didn’t bother me that much until I started to feel unhappy in other areas of my life. The more I faced challenges in my career, the more I relied on my weight and body to make me feel happier. The more I was stuck or stressed, the more I tried to use food for comfort and feel a sense of control.
Fast forward to today, I am an intuitive eater happy with my weight and my body. I don’t have cravings, I eat all foods (chocolate and vegetables!) and I don’t mindlessly eat to fill an emotional void.
Looking back, there were five milestone aha-moments in my journey that helped me develop this healthier relationship with food and stop emotional eating.
Here are 5 Life-Changing Truths to Stop Emotional Eating:
Overeating (emotional, binge, or stress eating) is a symptom of a larger missing piece in life. If you can find the missing piece, the problem will go away really quickly.
Emotional, binge, or stress eating all start as a coping mechanism to help us feel better. Instead of dealing with the stress head-on, we prefer to avoid the anxiety it causes so we turn to food to deal with the pain.
For me, it was the stress of wanting to live my life more fully than just being part of the rat race. What could the equivalent be for you?
- Could it be the stress of a demanding boss or the fear of losing your job?
- Could it be financial worries?
- Could it be not being fulfilled by the relationships you have, knowing you can do better or feeling lonely?
- Could it be holding yourself back from living up to your full potential?
To feel satisfied with life, we need to feel stable financially, have fulfilling relationships, high self-esteem, and know that we are living our best lives each and every day.
Just realizing that we might not be exactly where we want in one of these areas can help us formulate a plan to find the missing piece and stop using food to fill the void.
You are so much more than your weight or your body size.
Why do so many of us define ourselves by our weight and our body size? I did too despite having many other successes in life.
You have many other achievements to be proud of. You are a wonderful mother, sister, daughter, and friend. These are far more important in helping you feel happy, satisfied and fulfilled, so focus on these instead of society’s arbitrary body size comparisons.
The next time you wake up in the morning and wish your tummy was a little smaller stand up a little straighter, put on your sexy clothes and smile confidently into the mirror. You are already a winner and a pretty awesome one at that!
Living healthy is a lifestyle change, not a short-term weight loss effort.
For the longest time, I labeled my diet efforts as wanting to get healthier. In reality, I was always looking for the quick win.
However, most of us don’t want to diet our entire life, we want to live a relaxed life around food, eating all the things we like but without jeopardizing our health.
A more sustainable and happy way to live is to embrace eating intuitively. Similar to how toddlers eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full, being in touch with our physical hunger and satiety cues will help us eat just the right food in the right quantities instead of relying on diets or calorie counting.
Living this way requires changing our mindsets from being diet-first to health-first and realizing that health is a way of living for the long-term, not a short-term weight loss struggle.
There is a pleasure in food that can’t be replicated elsewhere. Enjoy it and stop restricting “bad” foods.
The diet and weight-loss industry have labeled foods good and bad, so we try to minimize the bad food that we so love like cakes, chips, and cookies. Evolutionarily, we are primed to want things we can’t have, so we eventually end up bingeing on the very things we are trying to avoid. By doing this, we are also taking away from the pleasure of enjoying food.
Have you ever noticed how a child eats a lollipop? They enjoy not just the taste of it, but the experience of licking it, the different colors, the rush of the sugar through their body, you can see the happiness twinkling in their eyes.
Instead of trying to eat only good foods and avoid bad foods, putting the childlike fun of eating back into everything we eat is a much happier way of enjoying food without being obsessed with it.
When I eat for pleasure, I find that I am satisfied with smaller portions of foods and feel happy when I’m done eating instead of guilty and sick.
Be patient and let self-compassion (not self-criticism) guide your way.
Changing our mindsets to think health-first, embracing intuitive eating, and figuring out life’s missing pieces all take time. Years of dieting have conditioned us to expect instant results. When we don’t see progress quickly, we feel like failures and lose confidence, comparing ourselves to others or criticizing our lack of willpower.
Realizing that healing our relationship with food is a long process filled with ups and downs helps us stay patient and kind to ourselves even when we fall off-track. With time, we can finally become the people we’ve always wanted to be, happy, satisfied, relaxed, and confident not just around food but also in ourselves.
Which of these life lessons to stop emotional eating struck a chord with you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!