Are You An Emotional Eater?
Updated: May 28
Full disclosure: I spent ages 20 - 30 struggling with a severe binge eating disorder and a distorted body image. I spent ages 30 - 40 doing my inner work and recovering from these two major life challenges. From ages 40 - 54, I have enjoyed the fruits of my labor—a positive body image and a very healthy relationship with food and myself.
Yet, despite the tremendous progress that has led me to the best health and happiness levels of my life, I notice that I’ve been eating a heck of a lot of mangoes lately during this time of COVID-19 sheltering-in-place. Sometimes when I get bored, lonely or restless, I find myself turning to the mangoes to provide that extra boost of sweetness, aliveness and fun.
Is this a big problem for me? No, not at all. But this "mango behavior” is vaguely reminiscent of my younger days when I'd binge on gallons of ice cream and loaves of bread to cope with high anxiety, deep insecurity and fierce perfectionism. It is also a red flag that is reminding me to look deeper into the feelings which are driving the behavior. And so, rather than going on autopilot and continuing to emotionally eat these seemingly innocent mangoes, I am tending to those underlying feelings with open eyes and ears and a compassionate heart.
How about you? Have you been using food to cope with the stress of this pandemic or life in general? Many of us are currently dealing with high levels of uncertainty, children at home instead of school, lost jobs, anxiety about the virus, politics, etc. Are you one of the many people who are turning to their refrigerators and cupboards for solace and relief?
Below is a list of 10 behaviors that reflect your relationship with food. Read each statement and place a checkmark on the blank line if it describes you.
Self-Quiz: Am I An Emotional Eater?
1. I try but fail to lose weight and keep it off. _______
2. I often feel out of control of my eating. _________
3. I frequently eat when I am not hungry. _________ 4. I often turn to food when stressed or upset. _______ 5. I frequently use food as a source of pleasure or reward. _________
6. I think a lot about food. ________ 7. I can't seem to stay on track with weight management. _________
8. I often binge eat or graze eat. ______ 9. I frequently feel ashamed of my eating and myself. ________ 10. Food often helps me deal with feelings. ________
If you checked off 3 or more of the statements above, you may be an emotional eater. Consider the price you and others are paying by you continuing this pattern with food. Consider what would be possible if you were to stop and replace it with more healthy and effective coping strategies.
If you are ready to overcome your emotional eating patterns once and for all, I am here to help you. I am a certified health coach and life coach with first-hand experience in overcoming this challenge, and it would be a great honor to support you in doing the same.
Dare to dream!