Emotions and Food – A Complex Relationship!

Emotions and Food – A Complex Relationship!
This is a subject close to my heart ……..

We all have very different relationships with food, and almost always, the way we view food and the role it plays in our lives comes from the way we have been conditioned to view it and how we feel about our bodies.

The psychology of eating is a complex subject. There are many reasons why we can develop an unhappy relationship with food. Trauma can cause a complete lack of appetite; low self-esteem can cause bingeing or food addictions, and conditioning can create habits and behaviors that don’t serve us, and that is naming but a few!

I’d like to touch upon emotions a little….

When you experience intense emotions or find yourself not really understanding what your emotions are, you may find that you can’t cope with the feelings you experience. Food can often be a distraction technique. When you jump from feeling the intense emotion to eating you lose contact with the emotion which can provide relief. What can often follow though, are feelings of guilt or shame about the choices we have made.

Human beings are wonderful thinking, feeling creatures. But somehow along the way, we have taught ourselves that certain emotions aren’t good and we should distract ourselves from feeling them. The truth is, that it is inevitable that we’ll experience uncomfortable feelings and consistently avoiding them limits our ability to live freely and with kindness to ourselves.

What we believe about emotions affects how we feel and how we behave when an emotion arises. What are your beliefs about emotions? Do you think it’s embarrassing to feel lonely or bad to feel angry? What are your beliefs about your ability to manage emotions? When you give consideration to these questions you can start to unpick things a little.

It’s OK To Have a Slice of Cake

Something to recognise about emotional eating is that you don’t do it because you are weak! It is because of many factors. One very obvious one is because many of us have been conditioned to see food as a reward or a comforter. Did your Mum ever offer you a sweet or biscuit when you had fallen over to ‘make things better’? Did you ever get to have a ‘sweet treat’ when you had behaved yourself or done well at something? All of this stuff is programmed into our psyche at a young age and is often hard to let go of.

Food is also embedded in our sense of celebration, and feelings of love and comfort. We show our love by baking a beautiful birthday cake, or planning and preparing a special meal for the people we care about. We feast to mark important dates on our calendar. It is no wonder then that it can feel as though food is the only thing we have available to cheer us up when life is dragging us down.

If you have ever suffered with emotional eating, perhaps give these things a little consideration and remember them next time you are faced with challenges. Perhaps be a little kinder to yourself and know that you are doing your best. Having this awareness and using techniques like movement, meditation, and mindfulness can really help us to improve our relationships with our bodies, food, and enable us to be a little kinder to ourselves. 💖💖💖💖