Comfort Eating, Emotional Eating, Stress Eating [What To Do]
Comfort eating used to be a habit for me. But is food even a comfort? Is this true? Well, it can be a source of comfort. However, it becomes problematic when we eat beyond feeling comfortable. Certainly, it’s an issue when we enter the realm of discomfort and pain (and the emotions of shame, guilt, and regret). Obviously, this means there is a time frame and a certain limit to how much relief comfort eating can bring us. So, if food is comforting to only a certain degree, what do we do?
Be There For Yourself [Instead of Comfort Eating]
Importantly, we need to be there for ourselves, because the comfort of the unconditional loving self is infinite. On the other hand, when we use food to escape and numb out, we are not really being there for ourselves. I rather believe we are escaping ourselves, our emotions and our needs. You might be interested in my TEDx talk: Is food your drug of choice?
When we are able to comfort ourselves, we can release our need to use food as a crutch (or arguably drug of choice). So what does practicing self-comfort mean and actually look like?
How Do You Support A Friend?
To understand this more, let’s say we have a friend who needs our support. How would we comfort them? Rarely do they require solutions or action. Most of the time they just want someone to be with them. For example, a gentle listening ear and a loving presence. Indeed, this is what we need to do for ourselves. Can you do this? Be completely unequivocally there for YOURSELF – Without distracting yourself with social media, food, or keeping busy? Essentially, can you be completely present with your needs and listen?
1] Process For Self-Presence [Instead Of Comfort Eating]
Let’s say overwhelm and anxiety overcomes you. You want to reach for food. But instead, you choose ‘Self-Presence’. If you have resistance to this process, it can be useful to set a timer (10 minutes), as the time frame can feel less scary. Sit with yourself without distraction (so turn off your phone).
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Ask ‘How do I feel‘?
- Go deeper and ask ‘What are those feelings? (Name them aloud – yes this will feel uncomfortable)
- For example say, ‘I am overworked, I am stressed, I feel rushed, I am bored, I feel lonely, I feel disconnected’. Name it all.
- Importantly, whilst naming the feelings, be open to any sensations that arise. Sit with them. Place your hand where those bodily sensations arise.
Powerful Process to address the inner child
Indeed, this process is powerful because it validates and comforts our inner child; giving it a voice. Similarly, it helps to gently dissolve any resistance we might be holding onto. Finally, this process is particularly empowering for women because it is healing to voice our feelings out loud in this way.
Journaling To End Comfort Eating
Another option is journaling with this process. In this way, journaling is a potent tool because you can see the needs and feelings on paper. Moreover, reading it aloud gives your brain deeper processing of what is going on (instead of the habitual practice of comfort eating). If journaling feels scary to you, you might consider a coach or a counselor who can support you through this process by asking you questions and give you support through this journey. I would love to support you through your transformational journey. You can book your call with me HERE
2] What Comforts You?
After you identify and feel your feelings, think about activities that would be nurturing for you. This is different for everyone. For example, an active run? Curling up in bed? Reading a book? Organising a catch-up with friends? Walk along the beach? Taking actions towards any of these things is showing yourself that you are there for yourself. I personally love going away (by myself) to beautiful Air BnBs. And when I organize these, I am showing myself self-compassion and self-love. Ultimately, we need to tend to what our soul needs and craves.
Connect To Your Inner Knowing To Dissolve Comfort Eating
We all have a deep inner-knowing that is guiding us. This inner-knowing is always showing us what we really need. If you feel resistant to feeling into what would be comforting, try writing down ideas. What might feel good? Additionally, acknowledge that feelings are messages. And it’s empowering to become curious about the messages our bodies and hearts are sending us. Let’s learn to lean in and listen.
Food Is Not The Problem [Comfort Eating Can Be The Symptom Of Ignoring Emotions]
Knowing our own needs and taking consistent action is how we change habits. Specifically, to end comfort eating long term, we need a mind plan, not a diet plan. Ultimately, food is not the problem. And we can end the battle and regain control. Send me a message and share any questions or insights. I would love to help you on this journey (as I have been there myself!)
PS For more on emotional eating download my FREE GUIDE TO END BINGE EATING AND OVEREATING. You will be given instant access. Click the link or download below.
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