Emotional eating, at the end of the day, is just a coping mechanism.
I’m all about “feeling your feelings,” and there is no doubt that getting in touch with your emotions is incredibly important for reasons that have nothing to do with whether or not you eat over them, but unless we practice new coping mechanisms, we will continue to eat when emotionally uncomfortable.
Thinking we can live a life without coping mechanisms is totally unrealistic — it goes against our biological instincts to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
Not to mention that coping mechanisms are what allow us to function during times of emotional duress. We need breaks from crying when trauma occurs. Feelings can’t be processed every moment of every day. We have to get out of bed, go to work, pick up the kids, do our laundry…coping mechanisms take the edge off so we can show up for life in the midst of discomfort.
Now the problem for most “emotional eaters” is that they focus on “not eating” instead of focusing on developing new ways of dealing with their feelings.
Of course, the more we try to resist food, (i.e. the more we think about food), the more practiced we become at leaning on food as a coping mechanism. (I know, catch-22 from hell…)
Eventually, we fall out of practicing other coping mechanisms altogether and become dependent on food to take care of all our problems, especially as we obsess, worry and generally freak out about our bodies.
So here’s a new way to think about emotional eating…
instead of telling yourself “don’t eat emotionally,” I want you to start thinking about all the other ways you could possibly “cope,” and start practicing them…regardless of whether or not you eat as well.
Ultimately, diversifying and expanding our coping mechanisms without worrying about the food is far more effective, than trying to resist (and therefore binge) over it later.
BTW – If you’re not quite sure the difference between “emotional eating” and “binge-eating,” this is something I cover in my free video training series, which you can sign up for here. All three videos of the series are out, so the videos will be emailed to you immediately after you enter your name and email at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!
Isabel Foxen Duke is the Creator of Stop Fighting Food — a free video training series for women who want to “stop feeling crazy around food” (and stop binge-eating, emotional eating, and other compulsive food behaviors in the process). You can sign up for her free video training series at www.stopfightingfood.com, and her blog, “How to Not Eat Cake… really fast, standing up, when nobody’s looking,” can be found at www.isabelfoxenduke.com.