emotional eating title, woman's hands with silverware and bowl

Emotional Eating- a guest post by Laura de Sans

Hello everyone! This week, I’m excited to introduce you to Laura de Sans. She is a weight loss physician, mindset coach, and all around amazing woman that I’m happy to have met through a group for female entrepreneurs. I absolutely love that she has a passion for helping other women and was really excited when she told me that she wanted to collaborate for my site! I hope you find value in what she has to say- I know that I sure did!!

and so I’ll let her take it from here…

  1. When Emotional Eating becomes a problem

We have been socially conditioned to use food to neutralize our emotions (either negatives or positives). For instance, I remember when I went to my pediatrician to have a vaccination, and he rewarded me with a candy at the end.

The truth is that the act of eating itself, helps us feel better. Every time we eat (even “real” food), our brain releases dopamine. A brain molecule that provides us motivation, well-being, security and pleasure. And this is for a survival mechanism (to not forget to eat). The problem is that nowadays, our modern lifestyle is based on sugar, flour and refined food regularly, provoking an increase of dopamine beyond our brain’s capacity to manage it. In fact, our brain is experiencing an over pleasure and then, it just wants to recreate more of it, creating an unwarranted urgency for food (aka cravings and urges).

And because we are living in a world where we have been taught that we should be happy all the time (we are surrounded by advertisements and social media, showing us people feeling happy, with perfect bodies, beautiful faces, spending lots of money…); when we feel bad, we feel bad about feeling bad. And we start to think that there’s something wrong with us.

And it all goes in the same direction. You just have a look at the TV and you will discover that if you want to feel better: you just have to eat something, drink something or buy something. And we have easy access to those instant (false) pleasures; we end up over-consuming (food, alcohol, compulsive shopping, Netflix, social media…) as a way to escape or to numb those negative emotions. That’s what we call: “buffering”.

But the truth is that, we are living in a world where we are meant to experience half of the time negative emotions. And trying to escape from that discomfort, we buffer and we end up creating a net negative effect, adding more negativity into our life.

It’s true that food provides us an instant pleasure or reward, but it’s always temporary. And the negative emotion you are trying to avoid, will still be there; because it has to be processed; and the only way to process it is through your body.

Besides this, by doing this, you are actually adding a new problem which is that you overeat ultimately leading to a gain weight. And, you are also reinforcing this neural pathway of: “I feel bad – I overeat – I feel better”; becoming automatic and unconscious.

  1. When Emotional Eating becomes the solution

Did you discover that emotional eating is a problem for you? No problem, it can also be your tool in this journey. Whenever you discover yourself “eating your emotions” (instead of feeling them), you have 2 choices. You can continue overeating and then beating yourself up (that’s what the vast majority of the people do). Or, you can also use this opportunity as a way to reconnect with yourself and with your body.

“Oh, I ate the entire bag of chips after dinner”.

    • What happened?
    • How did I feel?
    • What else could I offer to myself?

This is learning from our failures. I love the philosophy of “Either you win, either you learn”

So, you can use emotional eating as a way to reinforce this disconnection or use it as a way to connect with yourself and your body needs.

  1. How to stop overeating?

You can stop overeating by deconditioning these “automatic responses”. You have to stop doing what you have been doing until now (“unwire”), and start doing something different (“rewire”).

The first step is increasing your awareness. There is a space between your feeling (urge, sadness, stress, loneliness…) and the action (overeat). The more you put your attention and intention to find that space, the easier it will be for you to catch yourself before overeating.

And we want to create this space, because it’s what I call “a space of choice”. A place where you get to choose how to react to that emotion.

Yes, you can choose how you react! Isn’t that amazing?

Emotional eating is not something that you can’t control, it’s not something that happens to you.

Eating is a process.

Let’s say for example that it’s the end of the day and you feel tired. Your kids are sleeping, you are watching TV and suddenly you remember that you have your favorite cookies in the pantry. And you think: “I deserve a treat”. That thought will make you feel an urge /over desire to eat those cookies. And just because you feel that urge, you will probably go to the cupboard, open the door, pick the package of cookies, open it, put one hand inside to pick the first cookie, put it inside your mouth, chew it and swallow it. And repeat this with each cookie.

It may have become automatic and even unconscious to you. This is just because you have practiced it a lot of times, and it has become a habit “It’s the end of the day – I feel over desire – I eat cookies”). Unconsciously, you wired yourself to do this.

Now, it’s time to unwire & rewire (decondition & recondition).

And you can do it in this “space of choice”, by deciding to think something different. The best way to do it is, thinking about the feeling you are trying to escape when you eat; and thinking about other options you could offer to yourself. And then, instead of telling yourself “I deserve a treat”; you can tell yourself “I feel tired and I  deserve ____ (go to sleep earlier, a hot bath, time for myself, breath-work or whatever you think you could offer instead)”. And practice that.

The more you practice, the better you become at it. (And this goes for both senses).

You are now rewiring a new neural pathway to stop overeating.

Laura Desans bio

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