Emotional Eating – An Update

by Courtney on February 21, 2009

This afternoon I have been reviewing some of the comments and emails that I was sent back when I was writing thoughts about emotional eating, and my own journey with that, and other forms of it – compulsive eating, eating when not hungry, etc.

I realize I haven’t updated on that in a while, and I will. For those of you who are new to the blog since then, I will update you briefly. For me, it has always been food that I have used to numb, calm, distract, and occupy. I have used it to substitute for love, attention, comfort, or whatever else I have needed but haven’t yet formulated a way to get.

I was a compulsive/emotional eater my entire life. Since coming to veganism and eventually raw foods, paired with an increasingly introspective look at my life, I have been focused on healing this. The last juice feast was a huge milestone, and functioned wonderfully for me to be able to step back from the drama that food played/plays in my life. In this removed, observational space, I cleared many psycho-spiritual issues, thought patterns, and imbalances in my life that underlay my use of food. In the last year and 3 months since I ended the Juice Feast, I have kept true to all the new patterns I decided to create, and used all the much better tools I formulated to deal with the things that I previously used food for.

Even now I still use food. It’s been about five years since the day I realized I didn’t actually know what hunger felt like; and how much I ate emotionally. Today I still use food sometimes, and I am developing better habits to deal. My main thing is to journal. I write a LOT. Here is a list of some other things I’ve started doing.. perhaps you’ll find a tool or two :) Some things might seem odd… yet they help, for some reason…

  • Call a friend
  • Take a bath
  • Take a hot tub
  • Read a comforting book
  • Ask for a hug (a long one)
  • Cry (which for me usually ends with meditating, after all the emotions are let out)
  • Drink grounding herbal tea, or take other grounding herbs
  • Put on calming music
  • Drink a quart of water
  • Do 10 minutes of yoga
  • Lay in the sun
  • Go for a walk
  • Find somewhere in nature to be – nature often resolves most of my issues more effortlessly than my own brain :)
  • Breathe reeeeeally deeply for several minutes
  • Paint, draw, or do something creative
  • Meditate (for me, this happens AFTER I’ve done something else to let out the emotion I’m dealing with)
  • Watch a comforting movie

I used to think there was something wrong with me if I chose to employ some of the above things to help me deal with emotions. I figured I was weak if I just traded one crutch (food) for another. I was choosing not to use food, but expecting myself to be able to substitute absolutely nothing in the place of food. But soon I realized how unkind it was to tell myself that I should be able to make a jump like that. As if I were just learning how to walk, yet berating myself for not being an Olympian marathon runner yet.

Yes, ultimately, I would like to be able to deal with every single emotion I have right then and there and resolve it, without anyone or anything. And I do that sometimes. Yet I’ve realized that compassion and patience, both things I typically give to everyone but myself, are extremely important.

Sometimes emotions and situations are just to big for me to deal with all at once. I take them in chunks. I deal with as big a chunk as I can in that moment, usually journal about it, then I need some help, thus employing some other strategy. Sometimes I need to zone out to a movie, or to have someone hold me. And for me, right now, that’s totally ok :)

With kindness,

Top photo taken by Izabela P.


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