Today, I wanted to share more about what emotions are + what’s really happening when we emotionally eat. This will give you a lot more clarity and awareness – that’s what it did for me.
I had a really basic understanding of emotions when I first started figuring out my own emotional eating journey. Now it’s more clear. Knowing more about emotions and how we deal with them gives us more clarity on what’s really going on. It empowers us to move in a better direction for ourselves. This clarity is helpful to clients that I work with, and I thought I would share it.
What Are Emotions?
Emotions are a biochemical reaction in our body. The reason we have an emotion is that we perceive something in our environment or think something, and it creates a chemical response in our body. So each of those chemical responses corresponds with an emotion – happiness, sadness, fear, etc. Our emotions are created in our body. We’re feeling it in our body.
Ideally, what would happen if we were using emotions to our benefit, we would feel through whatever emotion was coming up and we would hear the message of it.
What we label “positive” emotions are telling us to go more in that direction and “negative” emotions are telling us we need to change something or not go in that direction or something’s not in alignment with who you are. Emotions are telling us which direction to go in or what we need to change in our life if we allow ourselves to feel and hear the message.
What happens in society…
But what happens in our society is that we’re taught to hold in emotion, especially negative emotion because it feels uncomfortable in our body. It doesn’t feel good in our body because it’s alerting us to something that’s out of alignment for us. But as a society, we don’t want to feel those negative feelings.
So we create ways to push aside or distract or suppress or cut off from feeling those emotions. That’s what’s happening. So we just bypass them. We don’t understand emotions or how to feel them.
As emotional eaters we use food to distract from our emotions. So how does this even start? When we’re really young, our parents or caregivers tell us that these emotions are not good and we shouldn’t feel them. So we think we shouldn’t feel them. We want to get rid of them. We’re not really understanding what they are. What we do is that either we see emotional eating modelled to us by our parents or we’re given food when we’re not feeling great to make us feel better.
We learn “oh, when I’m not feeling good, I’ll just eat food to feel better”. We already know eating food makes us feel great. So we can also create emotional eating ourselves. The thing is food does make us feel better but it’s a bandaid. It’s another chemical response in our body that feels good, but it’s just on top of the emotion.
If the emotion is not felt, it’s still under the surface waiting. We just put a Band-Aid on top of it. The food is a Band-Aid. It’s a coping mechanism. The way our brain works – we automatically connect not feeling good to needing food.
Emotional eating is telling us that there are emotions that we need to be with and process.
Our society tells us to push away these emotions, to put them to the side, to not feel them, that they’re not good. We use emotional eating to distract ourselves from it. We may have been doing this for so long, we don’t even realize we’re doing it until we get older.
Why We Emotionally Eat
We emotionally eat because during a stressful period in time we have to cope more. We keep eating and eating. This is the only way we know how to deal with these negative emotions. We’re not taught how to actually process those emotions and to get into them.
We see we’re using the food to deal with our emotions. How do we be with our emotions? How do we start listening to them again? How do we start processing them? Because they’re all now stuck in our body and they keep coming up more and more.
Once we are aware…
Now that we’re aware of what’s going on under the surface, we have to learn how to feel safe feeling our emotions. This is what I teach clients in my program, The Emotional Eating Evolution Program. Throughout the program you learn how you can feel all your emotions. They’re not going to last forever, especially if you’re able to really be with them and feel them.
Emotions don’t last forever. That’s something we think if we feel an emotion, it’s going to be forever. They have a certain timeframe. They may be a couple of minutes. The more you’re able to feel them the shorter it may be. Your body doesn’t want to be in a heightened state forever. It wants to come back to neutral and calm.
Your nervous system always wants to come back to calm. Throughout the program we’re learning that it’s OK to feel. The more we can feel, we can release more. But it goes further than that. After we’ve been using food to soothe ourselves for so long, we have to get into that pattern and find a new way to be with our emotions. That means learning to feel safe in our body, to feel like we can hold those emotions. After we’ve pushed them away for so long, they can become separate in our mind and they can create more sabotage and overtake us.
It might sound like internal fighting of one voice saying eat and the other saying no. You don’t because you know that if you eat the food, you’re going to feel bad. But the other voice is saying, I need to eat the food because I don’t know how to cope with that emotion. Through the somatic meditation process and parts work we get them on board and they start learning a new way of being.
We start recognizing triggers and we can go deeper into the body, into where those emotions are stuck and have been stuck for many years to process them out, to resolve them and transform them and find a better way of doing things to really meet those needs that have been stifled for so many years.
So as we move through this process, we start feeling more and more safe with our emotions. We feel safer expressing our emotions, and we start really hearing the messages of them and creating change in our life that is going to make us feel better. It’s such an amazing process.
If you are resonating with what I’m saying and you’re seeing that emotional eating is so much more than just controlling your food and doing another diet and you’re looking for more support, I would love to invite you to apply and book in an Emotional Eating Assessment Call to to see if the program is a great fit for you and can help you move past your emotional eating and to give you more clarity as well.
Certified Holistic Nutritionist + Emotional Eating Expert