Today I wanted to share about emotional eating patterns. Looking back, I can see how my emotional eating was a pattern. I hear from so many women that whenever they are stressed or emotional, they go towards food. That’s their pattern.
If I look back, I can see my pattern but at the time when I was emotionally eating, I couldn’t see it. I just thought something was wrong with me; that I couldn’t control the way I was eating or something was wrong with my body. I would be SO hungry then eat so much and then feel awful.
I felt like everyone else had a normal relationship with food except for me.
When I yo-yo dieted for years trying to control my body/fit into a certain size/restrict myself the emotional eating would take over. I felt so out of control. I hit so many rock bottoms and needed to figure it out. I needed to figure out my emotional eating and why I eating all of these meals in a row.
“This doesn’t seem right. No one else is doing this around me”. So I started researching and digging deeper. I started to learn this was a pattern and this was something that I was doing and it was being triggered. This was such an aha to me to really start understanding what was going on.
How patterns work…
So I’m going to share a little bit with you about how our brain works and how it takes on patterns. So from around the age of 0 – 7, our brain is really receptive and open. It’s in a certain wavelength that allows us to absorb patterns around us from family to society. We’re absorbing and absorbing all of these patterns and these patterns become the foundation to your life.
If your family ate well, dealt with their emotions and had lovely relationships, you would have picked up all of those patterns from them. Most of the time our families don’t have that. About 90 to 95% of families are dysfunctional to a degree. So, it’s not your fault that you picked up certain unhealthy patterns – it was all around you. But if you’re here you’re aware of it now.
Emotional eating is a pattern that is absorbed. Then after 7 years old this becomes very automatic in your system. So we if we look at our whole mind or our consciousness, 95% is subconscious and 5% is conscious. When I say conscious, I mean for example I decide to pick up a pen or to walk there. I’m consciously deciding. Subconscious is my heart is beating, breathing in, I get triggered I emotionally eat.
It’s like when you’re learning to drive a car, you’re really aware of it. Then as you do the pattern over and over again, it goes into your subconscious. So sometimes you’re driving and you don’t even know how you got from point A to point B, that’s how it is with an emotional eating pattern. Now we know we have this pattern. If it’s been there for 10, 20, 30, 40 years, basically that pattern is a pathway in the brain.
If we are constantly using it over and over again it becomes strong, fast and automatic. We develop emotional eating because it helped us cope with our emotions. For me it helped me distract from my uncomfortable emotions. I didn’t know how to feel my uncomfortable emotions. I grew up thinking anger was bad, that I was too sensitive and I kind of just didn’t know what to do with my emotions. I wasn’t taught how to be with them or process them. So I would emotionally eat when I felt uncomfortable. That was my coping mechanism.
Why we want to change…
Emotional eating becomes uncomfortable. Our health deteriorates or we gain weight. Everything suffers because if we’re more anxious or uncomfortable emotionally we’re constantly emotionally eating. We feel out of control around food. It becomes a problem, that’s probably why you’re here today.
When it’s too uncomfortable we want to change it. So you’ve probably had this pattern for a long time. I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager (even further back in grade 4!) trying to fit my body into a certain shape or size.
The emotional eating pattern has 95% of the subconscious on its side. t’s much more powerful than willpower in those triggered moments. So every time we get triggered into an uncomfortable emotion, that pattern comes in really strongly. It is trying in an unhealthy way to protect us and keep us safe, even though we don’t want it consciously.
So what can we do about it?
First step: Awareness
The first step is awareness. It’s about seeing your patterns. So yes you’re an emotional eater, but do you know more details about it?
When does it happen? Is it every day? Same time of day? When you’re around certain people? When you go to certain events?
You want to write down all of that information to start seeing more and more about the pattern so that your conscious mind is aware of when you’re going to do that pattern.
Second step: Process, get to the root and reprogram
Then you want to resolve the patterns. You want to feel and process and get to the root of the pattern.You want to get to the root of it and process through whatever unresolved emotions were there. From this space you can consciously add in that new behaviour you want and new pattern you want.
And then you keep repeating the new pattern but it’s easier because you resolved the old pattern. If it’s been 10, 20, 30, 40 years of that pattern over and over again, when you just try something 1,2,3 times without resolving it, it doesn’t take. So when process in a deeper meditation we create a stronger new pattern. We also need the action to make it the new way we do things.
We need accountability and support. We need someone there to help us when we fall off so that we don’t just spiral out of control with it. The key things are; support, accountability and not blaming and punishing yourself when you do mess up.
Emotional eating patterns happen when we’re really young and they get embedded in our brain. They help us because they make us feel safe when we’re feeling uncomfortable emotions, we just go to that pattern. Now we want to change it because the pattern is not helping our health at all leading to weight gain, health issues and feeling out of control around food. So we have to resolve that pattern and actually find a better way of doing things and be consistent with it. It takes time, a step by step process, support and accountability.
If you resonate with this, I invite you to reach out. One of the phases of my program, “The Emotional Eating Evolution”, is focused on moving through those patterns with support and accountability.
To new ways of being,
Certified Holistic Nutritionist + Emotional Eating Expert.