Food can be such a fight. In one breath, you genuinely enjoy food and want to enjoy the process of it. But in other, it’s terrifying. Your mind races with questions on what to eat, how much, will this make me fat, or what if it’s not good for me?
There are so many messages and ideas it’s hard to imagine thinking anything but dread when it comes to food and your body. But this is not the intended design of food.
Food isn’t to be feared. It’s to be enjoyed and used to nourish yourself, just as your body isn’t to be hated but loved and cherished for its role in helping you live your life.
It may not be a common thought, but you can experience food freedom. You can have the best of both worlds, enjoying food and loving your body.
In this podcast episode, I interview Jessi Jean, Mind Body Eating Coach, on what it looks like to experience food freedom and how we get there. If you intellectually know how you want to act with and around food but can’t seem to get yourself to do it, this podcast is for you. Learn how to change your patterns to stop emotionally eating.
Creating Food Freedom
I’m no stranger to emotionally eating. I’ve eaten a fair amount of food because I was having a bad day or hating my body. And I’ve come up with plenty of excuses as to why I would find myself elbow-deep in a bag of chips or eating another plain tortilla straight out of the fridge.
I knew it wouldn’t make me feel better in the long run. But for some reason, that instant pleasure was enough for me to return to it, no matter how fleeting. I needed it no matter how much I hated it.
Arguably, it was a generational trauma embedded in me. Growing up, I heard messages that taught me food would heal my problems. Not to mention, in society, we use food in both celebration and sadness. Food has always been and will always be emotional.
One critical understanding in healing my relationship with food was knowing that. Food is emotional.
The experience of eating should be pleasurable and relaxing. If I wanted to heal, if you want to heal, you can’t expect the emotion to disappear. Food will always be emotional. Health is partially learning how to control the emotion you feel around food rather than be controlled by it.
As long as your emotions control you, you will always be controlled by food. You will need it not for nourishment but to numb, distract, or suppress what you don’t want to heal.
Healing doesn’t happen by chance like most things. It’s multi-dimensional. It happens through healing a multitude of different avenues. Jessi listed five reasons. you can’t stop emotionally eating. Thes reasons keep you stuck wanting health but not able to get there because you still need food for the wrong reasons.
5 Reasons You Can’t Stop Emotionally Eating
01. Depriving Biological Needs
Your body needs food. It can’t survive without it. Because of this, it has many biological powers that can override your mental capacity for choice, making you seek food, no matter how much you try to restrict it.
Many people call this the body war. It’s you against your body and your body against you. If you’re in this war, it rarely ends well. Your body’s drive to survive is stronger than your willpower, making it nearly impossible to outsmart or override your biological response.
When you deprive your body of its need for pleasure, satisfaction, and nourishment, it will go to work to find it by igniting a flurry of intense cravings. These cravings often drive people to binge or eat and purge. It comes out in any form of eating that contains little control.
Your body needs nourishment. It needs food to provide the nutrients for every cell to function appropriately. Nourishing your body and providing pleasure, even micro pleasures, will help end the body war and take back control of what you eat.
Food freedom requires feeding your body enough nutrients and energy to thrive.
02. Bad (Food) Beliefs
We are bombarded with messages telling you what a healthy body should look like or the best diet to try. If you experience anything less than the glamorized picture set, it’s easy to feel shame, guilt, and even fear around your food choices. If you feel any of this, you’re joining a large group of society that struggles with the same thing.
It’s no wonder we’re here, struggling to arrive at health based on the distorted view that has become our vision and goal. Health has become a bar that is so unachievable the majority will never manage to reach it. Nor should we.
But you’ll keep striving for it unless you change the vision. You have to break up with the harmful beliefs and start to reprogram your brain to understand health in a new way.
Food freedom requires you to challenge your beliefs about food and your body and work to change the patterns, creating a new vision of health and redefining it for what it means.
03. Dysregulated Nervous System
Your nervous system is responsible for taking in information from your senses and body posture to determine the threat level to your body. Note this is a perception and not necessarily reality. Your nervous system is programmed over the course of your life, making your past a significant influencer in how your nervous system responds in the present.
Unfortunately, most people haven’t learned healthy techniques to regulate their body when it becomes dysregulated. Instead, we’re taught to suppress emotions by attempting to numb or disassociate from the situation. In the process, some people begin using food as a reaction or impulse to override the dysregulation they are experiencing.
But when you learn how to regulate yourself through simple, no-cost practices like deep breathing, you stop relying on food to attempt to fix the dysregulation. You learn how to regulate and regain balance from healthy things.
04. Low EQ
Like nervous system dysregulation, low emotional EQ is the inability to change your emotions. It’s a lack of control over the things you feel. That means you don’t know how to change your feelings, making you assume you can’t escape them. This leaves you with no other option but to use food to cope.
Instead of learning the art of emotional release through acknowledging how you feel and letting go of it, you use food as the power to change these feelings. You attempt to allow external mechanisms to fix you, no matter how temporarily it lasts. But food doesn’t have the power you need it to. It can’t change your emotional state, at least not long term, no matter how much you expect it to.
Emotional regulation techniques can take the pressure off food, putting you back in control of what you consume because you learn how to control your emotions. It starts with awareness. Acknowledge what you feel without accepting it as truth and then choose to release it by changing the story of that emotion.
Trauma arguably goes hand in hand with the previous two reasons, but it should still be noted. Deep-seated trauma, whether big or small, tends to be a root cause of low emotional EQ and nervous system dysregulation. It pulls all of them together into one big pit that makes it feel like there is no way out. But there is.
Processing and releasing trauma is critical in everyone’s healing journey. What you don’t heal, you live out no matter how much you try to forget. Your body never does.
Trauma needs to be processed and released, including food trauma. However, it may require the help of a trained professional therapist to work through it. Don’t go at it alone; find someone to walk the journey with you. Freedom exists. Don’t settle for anything less.
Want to learn more? Resources to stop emotionally eating.
Food freedom is possible. If you’re ready to take things to another level, I encourage you to check out Jessi’s course, Food Freedom, which she created in partnership with a licensed professional counselor. Stop emotionally eating for good. Check out her course here!
Here are a few additional resources to check out:
- Jessi’s podcast: The Dear Body Podcast
- Understand Your Body To Change It
- How You Heal: Emotional Mastery
- How You Heal: Ego + Self Love
- How You Heal: 5 Radical Truths About Forgiveness
- How You Heal: Regulate Your Nervous System