Today I want to share with you how emotional eating, the body and trauma are connected and how we need to include the body in resolving this pattern.
I wanted to share this with you because a lot of the times when we are trying to resolve our eating we think we have to just change the way we think about things. We have to try to control our body, control food.
It’s almost like our mind is in charge and we forget about our body or we make our body our enemy.
We’re trying to control our body, but we might also go to the extremes of using pills or even surgery, thinking something is wrong with our body. We don’t understand how it’s all interconnected into this pattern.
This was something that I wasn’t aware of either.
I just sort of step by step trial and errored my way through this until I figured out what was really going on with my emotional eating. I realized looking back that there were so many layers to this.
Emotional Eating is a coping mechanism. It’s when we use food to soothe ourselves from any stress, discomfort or uncomfortable emotions. This pattern usually develops when we’re very young.
It’s hard for us to “see” this pattern, the early signs of it, because it doesn’t look the same. Then it snowballs.
Then we add in the diets and the exercise and the way we treat our body, and it all becomes a multilayered sh*t show.
What happens is that our emotional eating feels so out of control. We feel so out of control around food and our body. We have so many obsessive thoughts about food and our body.
We just want to get it controlled. We just want to be okay. We want to feel okay in ourselves, we want to feel at peace. We want to feel that ease. We don’t want to obsess and we want to do anything we can to stop this. We just want relief.
And that puts us in a really vulnerable position because a lot of the solutions that are sold to us out there are telling us to control food, to restrict food.
We have this diet mentality or we need to push harder at the gym. We’re not exercising enough, we’re not doing enough with our bodies. Then we completely detach from our emotions. We are not looking at them at this deeper level.
I want to explain to you how the body is so important in this pattern.
It’s not just about thinking a certain way or knowing all the facts about food or knowing all the facts about your body, we have to dive deeper into the body and start using the body to help us resolve this pattern.
Part of the reason is that it’s through our body. We’re going to get a lot of feedback from the things that we’re doing to resolve this pattern. We’re actually going to access the deeper sort of unresolved emotions that live in the body that are running this pattern.
We keep thinking we can just think our way out of this, which is a lot of willpower. Willpower is good to get something started, get the ball rolling, but it’s not the gas forever.
For months and months you can’t willpower your way. You’re going to burn out.
Being “Smart” About this Pattern
You need to be smart about this pattern. The reason we need to be smart about this pattern is that emotional eating is a coping mechanism, which means it is an automatic pattern that comes up for most of us or we feel it takes us over. So many women tell me this, and I was the same way.
We feel like we’re just being taken over by this pattern. We don’t have control. The reason is that when a pattern is automatic, it’s subconscious, it lives in the body. You could think of our collective “mind” as, let’s say, being 100%.
We don’t like to think about our body as our mind. But whenever we think something repetitively, it becomes subconscious and automatic. Think about driving a car. When we’re very young where this pattern soup to the age of seven or so, we’re like sponges absorbing patterns around us. We can’t cognitively say, no, I don’t want to do this. Yes, I want to do this.
It’s ingrained in us. We’re just modelling behaviour. So for a lot of us that are emotional eaters, the modelling we got was that something was wrong with our emotions. We either saw our parents not deal with theirs, not help us regulate our nervous system or move through this discomfort.
We needed a way to also soothe ourselves from that discomfort. So we started using food to soothe and this pattern became automatic. If we think of the mind as 100%, 95% is subconscious and the body plays out, these subconscious patterns that are triggered. So we’re watching ourselves do the actions of getting the food, eating it. The 5% of our conscious mind that’s watching this wants to have a healthier relationship to food and our body, or just wants to be free of this and have relief.
5% is not a big challenge for 95% if you think about it in terms of power. This is why we have to be smart about this pattern. Because that subconscious the pattern is playing out there. All of our resistance and all of the things that go against what we want to consciously change are in this subconscious part of us. \
This is why when I work with clients, we are including the body. It’s not just a mindset. Each of these things have a place. So if you’re looking at mindset and changing the way you look at things, if you have zero resistance, you can change things pretty easily and take in a new belief and have education around nutrition and your body and your emotions. But when it comes to taking action and you’re so resistant, there’s a deeper pattern at play.
Coping with Food
Emotional Eating, it’s a coping mechanism. Hypothetically, if we were to just stop ourselves from eating in that moment, what are we going to do instead?
Because this coping mechanism, it’s protecting us, it’s soothing us, it’s helping us numb, it’s helping us not look at the discomfort from scary things. So we have to work with it and actually get to the roots of this in the body, really resolve this pattern, feel safe in a new way forward. And that requires certain steps.
If we weren’t modelled this at a young age so those people that have this easeful and effortless way of being with food, they were modelled something differently and it just happened to emboss itself into their nervous system, into their body and they don’t have to think about it.
You’re the same way with emotional eating. You don’t have to think about it. BUT you don’t want to be that way because it’s an unhealthy way of being. Now you see how it impacts your body, maybe your self esteem, your confidence, your life, it’s impacting you.
So how do we work with this pattern?
I mentioned we need some mindset, and deeper tools to get into the resistance, the traumas, unresolved emotions and the coping mechanism in the body. We need to have things in place, accountability, support to help us move through changes that we might subconsciously feel afraid of making.
We need a gentle approach to that. This is why when we work through and resolve the emotional eating pattern we’re using different tools and looking at this in a multilayered way to get to the root.
Your body is going to see the truth of that beyond your protective mechanisms and allow you to move forward in a more easeful way and no longer go to food. Because we’ll tangibly feel like food doesn’t fill that void and it doesn’t do that thing it’s been doing your whole life.
So how do we work through this?
Inside of The Emotional Eating Evolution Program, we’re working through this in layers. We rebuild a healthier relationship to food, your body and your emotions. They all play a part in this.
Even though this pattern started off as a coping mechanism, now we have other limitations with food and with our body.
We want to control food in our body, to kind of look a certain way, be in a body we feel comfortable with, to be acceptable. If we go back to the original root of this pattern around why we created this coping mechanism it was because we weren’t seen, heard, validated, we weren’t understood in how we were feeling, what was going on in our life.
We were left to figure it out ourselves when we needed our parents or caregivers there to provide that validation and acceptance for us. Now we’re chasing that. So we need to move through these layers and shift them from this unhealthy way of being to a healthier way of being which also shifts our nervous system, our body, from survival, which is a stress response, to thriving which is calm and rest and digest.
We’re shifting from this restrictive way of being with food, which triggers emotional eating, to this more abundant way that’s nourishing the body.
We’re seeing where our triggers are coming up.
It means when our body is in this healthier state, rest and digest, it is a calmer state. We shift from disease, which is a stress state, from digestive issues, from weight gain to having a calmer nervous system. Which means we’re going to have better energy, better digestion, release weight that we don’t need because our stress levels are going to be lower.
We’re shifting from punishing and pushing our body to understanding our bodies rhythms. Honouring our body, connecting to our true worth. This will shift us from this criticizing way with our body whether physically or mentally which is a stress response and does the opposite of what we want it to do.
Shifting our body to thriving where we’re supporting our body, honoring its rhythms, rituals, its energy, its movement and that’s going to shift into a calmer nervous system.
We’re looking at those triggered emotions. So emotional eating is a coping mechanism and so emotions are triggered in this pattern and we go to food to soothe. We’re looking at those deeper emotions. Processing and integrating them at a body level so that you can create a new way forward to meet your true needs instead of coping.
So when you’re stressed out and your shoulders are up, when we shift our nervous system, you will physically feel that ease and peace in your body. When our nervous system is in this calmer state, what happens is that we have more vision, we have more clarity. So our brain switches from survival mode to thriving mode. We have more perception, more ease, we can make better decisions and move forward.
Sometimes it’s a little bit nuanced because we can feel fear and when that comes up, we shrink back and that’s telling us there’s something there to be looked at. So if we’re afraid of shifting the way we relate to food or our body or our emotions, that’s telling us we’re still in survival. We need to find that way that is calming to optimize our health, to feel at ease in our body, to feel more peace of mind, to feel at ease around food, confidence, have self esteem. This is so powerful.
When we do this work on all of these levels, we’re not just putting in new thoughts, we’re seeing how it feels in the body and going deeper and resolving those deeper issues in the body. This is how we shift and why we need an approach that includes all of us. So not just mentally, but emotionally and physically, to resolve this pattern on all levels and to come back to a state of calm and health.
We do this inside of The Emotional Eating Evolution Program.
It’s a step by step process. We’re moving through these areas, food, body and emotions. You have tons of support, coaching, accountability, in depth somatic meditations to get to the root so that we’re shifting this pattern.
If you’re interested in the program find out more about it HERE. If you would like to see if the program is a fit for you, you can also book an Emotional Eating Clarity Call if this is resonating. On the call we find out more about you, your vision is and how we can bridge the gap and support you in the program.
To connecting to the body on all levels,
Certified Holistic Nutritionist Specializing in Emotional Eating