Emotional Overeating: Improving Your Relationship With Food

Food is powerful stuff, people, and our relationship with it can often be traced back to our earliest years. It’s a reward for good behaviour, a treat that triggers positive feelings, and its absence may even be used as a punishment when you didn’t finish your dinner. When you’re feeling low and in need of comfort, a decent chocolate bar can actually do you a lot of good; it’s why you keep coming back for more. 

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By always answering your negative emotions by eating them all up, you’re encouraging this habit, though, and could easily fool yourself into thinking that another slice of cake will take the pain away. In some cases, it will - but not if you always turn to the fridge for comfort.

Here is how you can conquer your emotional binge-eating once and for all, regain control, and improve your relationship to food.

Subconscious self-sabotage

Overeating candy and chocolate sounds like something we’d happily do when we were ten - it’s probably the fond memories that makes us continue to do so even when we’re all grown up. Food is a source of comfort, safety, and reward; provided by those we trusted the most when we were little and used as a tool to encourage good behaviour later on.

Although we can point to our childhood years all we want when eating our emotions - and we certainly will, it could be about more than that. If you have always seen yourself as a bit chubby and someone who loves a good snack, your brain will try its very best to keep this identity. 

When perception and reality don’t match, you’ll subconsciously go into defense mode in order to not create confusion and avoid a raging identity crisis; it’s helping you out by making you overeat.

Sounds like the kind of help you’d rather be without? You bet. People who are struggling with weight loss might turn to a variety of diets and some are using hcg to burn fat; while all of this may work, the fastest route to overcoming emotional eating is to look inwards.

Tell yourself a different story

Sure, you know how important it is to love yourself and that you should treat yourself with the same kindness as you would with a dear friend. It is, of course, a lot easier said than done. Before you do anything, it’s a good idea to talk it out with a therapist and see if they have some professional advice to help you on your way.

Whenever you notice a negative thought about yourself, challenge it. Don’t just accept it and let it pass, but ask yourself why you think this - and change it to something positive. The same goes for when you’re telling yourself that by resisting temptation, you’ll just be in a bad mood; challenge the idea by telling your inner critic that you’ll just have to wait and see. 

Maybe you’ll be grumpy and moody - or maybe you’ll be proud and content.

Changing the perception you have of yourself is a long journey, so don’t expect to regain control immediately. Find another way to trigger your reward centre  by talking it out with a friend, for example, when you feel emotional and inclined to spend the evening in a drive-through. 

Something as simple as a loving hug can be enough to help you on your way, making food your friend rather than that complicated ex you keep hooking up with. 

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