I thought I was an emotional eater. I thought that was my problem. I thought because I ate more when I was stressed, I was an emotional eater. I thought it was my FAULT I was overweight and struggled endlessly in my relationship with food.
The women I talk to about food almost always tell me they think they are emotional eaters.
Now I believe the term “emotional eating” is simply a way for society to BLAME issues with food and weight on the person struggling. It’s a way to shame people into thinking they are weak and they are the problem. If a person is weak and their emotional eating is the problem, the solution is for that person to buy some weight loss stuff and try harder.
Here's what I learned….I am not (usually) an emotional eater. If I am binge eating its because my body is giving me the message that I need to eat. Period. When I am stressed, I am going to eat more. I usually don’t make the healthiest food choices when I am stressed because my body is telling me to eat all the cheese (turns out there are scientific reasons why!). If I haven’t eaten enough or if I have been eating restrictively, my hunger signals get super LOUD! If I haven’t been feeling satisfied by my food choices or in my life in general, I will get the message to eat more satisfying food. My clients are learning similar things for themselves.
Our bodies are amazing. They know what kinds of food will give us satisfaction, make up for lost calories, provide a boost in serotonin and dopamine (hello cheese and chocolate😊). Our bodies know exactly how to get us to listen to our hunger signals.
The solution is to address the reasons my body is giving me those messages. To be curious. The solution is to let go of judgement around eating. To be kind. The solution is to listen to my hunger signals and eat food that is nourishing AND satisfying. To be engaged and proactive.
The idea that I should make it a priority to eat food that was both nourishing and SATISFYING, blew my mind. A mentor asked me if my meals were satisfying. At that time, I was so focused on healing my body and eating healthy, that food satisfaction had not even been a factor in my food choices. I realized I was so bored with food, I could barely stand to eat my healthy foods anymore. In the past, before I had that awareness, a build-up of that boredom and frustration, coupled with a particularly stressful day would have ended in a huge binge.
Now I take time to make satisfaction a priority. Sometimes I eat the chocolate. Most often, I just add flavor to my healthy meal- like fresh grated ginger to my breakfast scramble or put pumpkin seeds and berries on my salad. I learned what makes foods more enjoyable to ME. I like eating warm foods out of big bowls. I enjoy company or a nice view while I’m eating. I get bored, I no longer eat the same thing every day. I mix up my menu regularly. I take the time to go out of my way to eat someplace that I really love (we live in the ‘burbs’). I invest time and money in enjoying quality nourishing food.
Has satisfaction been a priority in your relationship with food? What makes a meal satisfying to you? Are you investing time and money in food that is both nourishing and satisfying? I love to hear what brings you satisfaction with food and in life!
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The first step to healing your relationship with food is reconnecting with the signals your body gives you. One of the ways to do that is by checking in with your hunger before you eat. Here's my spin on the traditional hunger scale..