Principle #7: Cope with Emotions with Kindness

You wake up on Monday morning, determined to start your perfect eating day. You eat your pre-measured cereal (portion control!), for lunch you have another Instagram worthy meal, followed by an apple with 8 almonds (yes, you counted) for your afternoon snack.

And then comes the dinner – you feel tired and just want to relax. Being in control is quite exhausting, so you allow yourself to “cheat” and have a dessert tonight, instead of the weekend, as the diet plan suggests.

And then you feel like you blew it again. Failed once more. Ruined your perfect eating day. Where is your willpower? You feel upset and go for another serving of the “unhealthy” desert you crave, and then another one…

You feel embarrassed, ashamed, defeated. You wonder why you feel out of control with food and look for another set of eating rules to help you get back “on track”.

It’s estimated that about 30-40% of people seeking weight loss experience binge eating (some people refer to it as emotional eating, overeating or compulsive eating). Food restriction is the main factor that fuels a sense of deprivation, resulting in episodes of bingeing. Another diet would not help getting out of the vicious cycle, but may complicate the things further.

Emotional eating has been demonized in our culture, which is dominated by body-shaming fat-phobic messages. As human beings, we experience a range of emotions, some are more easy to cope with than others. Trying to help yourself with getting through feelings you find hard to tolerate – is a form of self care. And turning to food for comfort is a way to restore emotional balance, even if temporarily.

When you approach an act of turning to food to ease your emotional discomfort from a non-judgmental, compassionate perspective, it changes the whole experience. It will help shifting from an “automatic” mode of eating (often in secret) to more mindful and conscious, which in turn, helps to reduce episodes of binge eating.

Learning to pause and recognize the need behind food “cravings”, so you can choose to respond to it in the best way you can at the moment, is on of the aspects we address while working on emotional and binge eating with my clients. In addition, I help them to expand their toolbox for emotional regulation they can turn to, creating alternative strategies to restore emotional balance.

If you feel stuck in the restricting-bingeing cycle, consider seeking professional support from providers practicing in a non-diet, weight-inclusive approach, who will help you to address your relationship with food, improve body image and build sustainable eating habits. Feel free to reach out to me if you would like more info on addressing emotional and binge eating. 

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