Do you eat when you aren’t hungry to avoid unpleasant emotions? Some of the most common reasons why people eat are to avoid feelings like:
6. Being overwhelmed
When we have them, these emotions are trying to tell us that something in our life needs our attention. If you’re overweight, it is likely because, instead of stopping to examine why you’re feeling these feelings, you avoid the discomfort of the emotion by eating.
You may think eating is a quick and easy way to feel better. And it may work temporarily, but it will then cause what I call “secondary stress” that is completely avoidable. Here’s what I mean.
Your body has a natural mechanism for regulating your weight, and that is why we have physical hunger signals. When you feel physical hunger, your body needs food. If you’re overweight, you’ve probably developed a habit of eating rather than actually feeling your emotions. That has become what you do. Maybe you grew up in a family where no one expressed their emotions, and showing feelings was considered a sign of weakness. Perhaps you never learned how to deal with your emotions constructively.
Causing your own secondary stress
But every time you eat instead of confronting the stress of your emotions (unless you’re actually hungry), you are overeating and consuming food your body doesn’t need and will store as fat. I cannot emphasize strongly enough, however, that you cannot end your struggle with weight if you continue to eat to escape your emotions.
By avoiding the stress of actually feeling what is happening for you emotionally, you are creating additional unpleasant feelings that you could have avoided if you had just paid attention to your feelings in the first place and NOT eaten. This is what I mean by secondary stress.
Secondary stress is completely optional. You can elude it by simply learning to accept your feelings instead of repressing them. We all have lots of negative emotions. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. Don’t judge yourself or your emotions. Just listen to them and see what they’re telling you.
Next week, I’ll write about constructively managing your emotions so you learn what you’re really craving in life. In the meantime, remember that your emotions may be uncomfortable at times, but they are just vibrations in your body. They go away faster when you don’t resist them -- or bury them under a lot of food.
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