The Trouble With Emotional Eating

Emotional eating will not solve your problems. So why do we keep turning to food for comfort?

I used to believe that food would never let me down. Food would be there for me through failures and disappointments, through ups and downs and highs and lows — and for much of my life, it was.

I have always been an emotional eater. It doesn’t matter the emotion — whether I am happy, sad, scared or just bored — I turn to food first. I always try to convince myself that food will make me feel better. That I deserve it. That it will solve all my problems.

But let me let you in on a little secret: Food is not a solution.

In all my years of emotional eating, food has never brought me true clarity. It has not eased my pain. Sometimes, it has felt like it has, but it never lasts. Any comfort or euphoria gained from eating is temporary at best — or even imagined.

When I sat back, empty snack bags all around me, my problems were never gone. They were still there and I was no closer to solving them.

If anything, food only makes you feel worse.

There is guilt associated with emotional eating. More often than not, I regret what I ate when I felt down. I am sometimes even ashamed of what I have eaten and the amount of it. So why do I keep coming back?

Habit, I suppose, is part of it. Eating is how I have always dealt with tough emotions. It’s how I make the difficulties or challenges in my life feel less difficult and challenging. Like Pavlov’s dog, I can’t ignore the sound of that bell.

Breaking the habit of emotional eating is one of the hardest things I’ve ever dealt with — and I still deal with it to this day. No matter what weight or size I am, I think I will always struggle with emotional eating. As I continue on my journey, the struggle becomes less and less of a challenge, but it is always in the background, gnawing at my mind. And when a difficulty arises in my life — stress at work, homesickness, worry about the future — a little voice in my head says to me “Eat.”

But we cannot give in to that voice. We cannot let food win. Because as much as we love food, food will not love us back.

For years, food was my best friend. I relied on her and she comforted me. Food never judged me for eating that third donut or dumping the crumbs from the bottom of the chip bag so unceremoniously into my open mouth. I was a loyal friend to food, but food wasn’t so good to me.

When we overeat, we ignore our hunger cues and eat to fill a void that can never be full. We go beyond what our bodies need and stuff it full of garbage that doesn’t contribute to our health or nutrition.

My emotional eating led me to be overweight for my entire life — until I decided to make a change. So far, I have lost 30 pounds by focusing on healthy eating and exercise as well as making my mental health a priority — and I’m not done yet.

If you’re struggling to overcome emotional eating, I know how you feel. I have been there and am still there with you. But it’s never too late to turn things around and choose to live a healthier life.

What has been your experience with emotional eating? What are some of the ways you dealt with it or are still dealing it? Comment below and share your story!

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