Intense cravings like waves that won’t subside until I eat: that’s how I would describe emotional eating. And I have been struggling with it ever since I can remember.
Thanks to all the work I have done throughout the years – a healthier lifestyle, mindfulness, therapy, and somatic work – I have stopped experiencing them for the most part. A few weeks ago, I had a 4-year-old going through a phase of trying to push all my boundaries and waking up from nightmares in the middle of the night screaming, and a 1-year-old who decided that the night wasn’t for sleeping but for playing, and whose little mouth was swollen in three different places as she was teething.
I was exhausted. I’m one of those people who become a different person when they don’t sleep well (you did NOT want to be next to me in the first few weeks postpartum). As we were getting ready to go to dinner one night, I told my husband “Wait I need to do something”. And sure enough, I opened up a bag of salt and vinegar crisps and devoured them all in three minutes. That’s emotional eating.
The episode I’m describing above was a one-off. I know what it is, why it happened and I also know what to do so it doesn’t become a habit.
Most of us don’t.
Emotional eating can be so tricky and it can have many causes. You might be eating because:
- you’re stressed
- you’re bored
- you’ve been feeling under so much control the whole day that you feel like you can loosen the reins in the evening
- you feel like you ‘deserve’ a treat (s) for all that you’ve been through that day
- you feel empty inside with no sense of purpose
- you feel lonely deep down.
And it might manifest itself in different ways:
- you overeat in general
- you binge on a specific food (sweets, ice-cream, coffee, nuts, or even….salt and vinegar crisps)
- you….don’t eat at all.
“Please don’t take my muffins/my bread/my chocolate/my candy away from me! It’s the highlight of my day!”
“It’s the only thing that calms me down!”
“I know I shouldn’t be doing it but I can’t see how I can stop”.
Know that you are not alone in having these thoughts. I understand them firsthand. And because I do, I also know that you can change. Life doesn’t have to feel so overwhelming. You can experience joy, more headspace, and happiness.
You don’t need any crisps to come to the rescue.