It’s the end of a long day. The children are finally asleep. Phew. A few minutes later, the box of cookies/chocolate bar/ice-cream/candy have disappeared, and feelings of guilt, shame and negative self-talk have sunk in.
Does this sound familiar? Do you identify as an ’emotional eater’? Me too. And so do most people, to various degrees.
Food is pleasurable
When our children were babies, milk was their food but also their comfort. It was something that they were excited to get. We are all programmed to enjoy the process of eating food. If eating was not a pleasant activity, then we would starve ourselves and the human race would be under threat.
Food as the only source of pleasure
Problems arise when food is our only source of pleasure. This happens more often than you think:
- ‘Hobbies? Oh, I have done nothing other than mummying for the past X years’.
- ‘I used to love XYZ as a child, but I haven’t been able to do any of that lately’.
- ‘I need to be surrounded by like-minded people to feel good, yet l only see my kids, husband and colleagues’.
- ‘I am a very creative/artistic/curious person, but I don’t seem to use these qualities in my everyday life at all’.
Think about it. If you go about your days without doing anything that brings you joy, of course you turn to food for pleasure. Of course you can’t say no to sugar. Of course you want your reward once your work is done! There is nothing wrong with you. You are just looking to find pleasure and fill in a void the only way you can.
What you can do
If what I am writing resonates with you, please don’t feel guilty and blame yourself. Instead, have an honest conversation with yourself. What have you been dying to do? What is missing from your life? What small thing would bring a smile on your face right now? Make it happen, and connect to the feeling it gave you the next time you feel like opening the cupboard to eat something.
Stay tuned for part 2, as this is just a small part of a much bigger story on emotional eating and why it happens.