I’m an emotional eater. My reactions typically revolve around food.
Thought: Oh man, I’m so overwhelmed and have so much on my to-do list!
Reaction: I better stop and eat something because who knows when I’ll eat next.
Thought: Yes! I just finished that huge project!
Reaction: I should get up and grab a piece of chocolate from the candy dish.
Thought: Ugh, I’m so frustrated that the conversation turned so ugly.
Reaction: I think making a ham sandwich will make me feel better.
Thought: I’m so emotionally exhausted from this week.
Reaction: I should get a super large extra tall vanillanutbuttercarmelchocolate latte.
Eating my feelings. I only realized I do this after I lost weight; go figure. One of the things I’m learning in therapy is to stop and feel my feelings instead of eating through them. But what does that mean? If you’d ask me, I’d swear up and down I know my feelings. But the truth was most of us rarely feel our feelings.
Our society is so fast-paced, we move from one to-do to another without ever stopping. Our minds race from one thought to the next and never process a feeling long enough to acknowledge it, let alone feel it. My therapist and I have gone around and around on what it means to feel a feeling.
What does a feeling FEEL like. Feeling a feeling means describing it using adjectives. Giving it a context and explaining it. Mad doesn’t always feel the same way so stopping to recognize what you feel helps break it down and process it instead of eating through it. Below are a few examples of how to feel feelings:
Feeling/May feel like
Mad – Boiling blood. Hot. Racing heart. Tight face.
Sad – Slow. Heavy. Tired. Gloomy and gray..
Overwhelmed – Highly caffeinated. Non-stop thoughts. Pressure in my head.
Excited – Bubbly. Energized. Ready to burst. Can’t stop.
Acknowledging and feeling the feeling gives us the right to feel it. Let it sink in, and consider the feeling of the feeling. Not mentally, but out loud, describe the feeling. Try to describe the feeling as a color, sound, or taste. Is it blue or pink or black? Is it neon or matte? Is the feeling sweet or salty or burnt? Is it loud, high pitched or soft? Attempt to describe the feeling to someone who has never felt it before – how would they know when they have that feeling?
When we are in that emotional moment and all we want to do is grab something to eat, it takes a lot to slow ourselves down and feel. It takes a lot of practice and willingness to be in the moment. If we’ve been an emotional eater for years, consider the fact that it can take years to unlearn those habits.
As you go on with your day today, try to describe a feeling you have and attempt to divert the emotional eating.