When you understand how surrounded we are by messages connecting emotions to food—from ads conflating candy with fun to the rom-com pint of breakup ice cream to the lessons we learn within our families—it makes sense that many of us eat emotionally. This is nothing to feel ashamed of. It’s very normal to overeat or eat for pleasure from time to time, especially when it feels like your life lacks pleasure in other ways.
Although food can and does offer pleasure, that pleasure is not sustainable. If it seems as though your eating habits are almost completely driven by emotion—“when your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re stressed, upset, angry, lonely, exhausted, or bored”—you might be feeling guilty, self-conscious and disconnected from your body, “stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed,” according to HelpGuide.org.
You may also worry about your weight and physical health. It’s very common to fall in and out of diets, only to feel frustrated and defeated, questioning why you can’t seem to make a sustainable change to your relationship with food. Again, you are not alone in this experience, and your relationship with food does not define your character or worth.
To improve your relationship with food—and, most importantly, your relationship with yourself—it’s important to learn more about what emotional eating is, what it isn’t, and which specific emotions or triggers might be driving you to overeat.
Author: Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP