Why am I Comfort Eating?
Why do all my good intentions around eating fly out of the window when I feel blue?
Comfort eating is a very nice phrase we often use to describe emotional eating disorder. Of course there are different degrees of emotional eating. For some, it means an ongoing struggle to get to and/or maintain a healthy weight. For others it is binge eating which has resulted in some digestive illness prompting some changes. For many, it is a total mind torture of starting the day with good eating ideals only to have overeaten on less-than-healthy choices by lunchtime and facing dinner time with a heavy heart. This is not a small problem. Studies show that more people suffer from emotional compulsive eating that bulimia and anorexia added together. And studies show that 50% of people in the US and the UK, seeking help with their weight are eating emotionally.
Emotional eating is no less harmful to health than any other eating disorder. It can cause extreme illness in all of the systems of the body and in the mind, with chronic depression and anxiety. It is often a secret disorder where often there are no visible signs. But it effects the lives of so many.
So why do we find so much comfort from food?
Very often, emotionally-driven eating comes from the need to be comforted at the mouth.
As a newborn baby, we have the instinctual knowledge of how to feed. In the first few days of life, our mother’s milk has not yet arrived (which is one reason why babies lose weight immediately after birth) but we are still comforted by the breast. As children we are comforted by food, even when we’re not hungry. We see sweet foods as a way of enhancing our experience. You will never see kids fighting over a fruit bowl! They understand from an early age, that artificial sugar is going to give them a better feeling.
Cigarettes do the same. Scientifically they shouldn’t calm the smoker down, since they are a stimulant. But the comfort they bring comes from having something at the mouth. This is why people often put on weight when they give up smoking. They replace the cigarette with food. Alcohol, sugar, coffee and other stimulants can also either soothe stress or they can help to enhance the emotions felt during more cheerful events.
We use food in all sorts of experiences and occasions. From weddings to funerals, many of us see food as either a pacifier or a necessary part of our experience. Either way, in our culture, we associate happiness with eating. Even for the emotional eater, during those moments of seemingly mindless eating and bingeing, there is a feeling of joy in the action. But of course it doesn’t last.
Sometimes however we need look a little deeper. Do you ever feel that your emotions are way over the top for the situation? Do friends and family often tell you that you are overreacting? Often there are unresolved issues lurking deep down in our consciousness that, for whatever reason we just don’t want to face. And it only takes a small trigger to bring the pain out again. So to avoid facing them we stuff them back down with food. Often refined sugar or starchy foods which are bulky and will do the job quickly and easily.
Because they are old problems, maybe from childhood and because we’ve become very talented at keeping them buried, we develop a fear around facing them again. Perhaps that fear is now far bigger than the memory of the incident itself. But often, until we actually speak about these issues we don’t realise how they have grown out of proportion. We continue to numb them with food and furthermore, the food that we use at the time is not the healthiest we could eat. We are feeding bad energy with more bad energy, only exacerbating the problem. This holds us in a lasting place of imbalance. We are not meant to hold this kind of energy in our systems. It’s toxic for the body, mind and soul. If we continue to feed it, it will grow into a physical thing. That’s known as cancer.
When all is said and done, what we all want without exception, is to be happy. We have a birthright to hold that happiness in every cell of our being. To do this we need to get the stuff out which doesn’t serve us. It may seem painful and it’s not easy. But it is NEVER as difficult as we think it will be. And the results are both mind-blowing and health-enhancing.
We can take back control of our emotions and enjoy a healthy relationship with food.
What you can do today?
Do your MAGIC!
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