Emotional Overeating Awareness

Written by Penny Payton
April 10, 2023

April may be the designated month to draw attention to emotional overeating but for many of us, that awareness is a heavy part of life each day. Food is woven into the fabric of our daily lives. For some it evokes wonderful memories of the past and sets up excited anticipation of creative and exotic meals in the future. For others food becomes an addictive prison with no way to abstain.
Because overeating has been one of the most misunderstood issues the problem continues to grow along with our waistlines. When food is used as an emotional tool, it becomes what is considered a method of avoidant coping. Normally to adopt healthier ways of coping we must first become more mindful in noticing our emotions as we experience them throughout the day. Followed by implementing tools that many of us have not learned in the past, those of identifying, processing, and releasing feelings rather than shoving them aside and ignoring them.
The challenge in learning our fair share of emotional self-awareness later in life is the formally established methods, beliefs and patterns are more hard-wired into our subconscious than we know. At times, no matter how committed we are to personal growth, when emotionally triggered, the subconscious holds tight to its place as our safety sentry, insisting we dive deep into our favorite comfort foods.
We end up in a vicious loop between our conscious mind telling thinking it just needs more willpower and our subconscious laughing all the way to the ice cream isle. Emotional eating has nothing at all to do with enjoying food. It’s a mindless, unstoppable drive spiraling right into shame and regret.
Focusing on a plan that increases emotional self-awareness is an excellent first step in changing the tide in the direction of making more conscious choices when it comes to food. By allowing yourself to acknowledge and validate your own feelings during the day, you can reduce the stress from daily drama significantly. By recognizing that many of your current actions have roots in past experiences, the work can be done to unpack and release the repressed emotions and anxiety which is triggered by real life experiences and driving your subconscious to eat when not hungry.
Building up a level of confidence in order to continue making conscious choices about food takes dedication and commitment. Just as the subconscious became empowered to protect us in times of emotional vulnerability, we can empower our conscious to more awareness. It’s not something that happens overnight, and we are not trained to have the steady vigilance it takes to make this process easy. But the more we dig into our past, the more we uncover the false beliefs that left us feeling fearful, confused and in pain, the more we open up our minds to our own abilities to make lasting change.
Self-care, self-love, and self-acceptance are not innate to the human experience, just as managing our own emotions were not either. We may be the ones living our lives, but much of what we do is not something we consciously choose so allowing for as much kindness towards ourselves possible will certainly make the journey more pleasant. By focusing on clean, whole, nutrition packed food selections rather than processed foods, sugars and portion control will at least be helpful in avoiding healthy complications as you begin.

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