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Food Addictions: Learning How to Stop Emotional Eating

Updated: Feb 21

Food addictions are a common topic of conversation with the women I spend time with, particularly around how to stop emotional eating, and breaking the cycle for good?

woman eating ice-cream

Here I offer ways in which we can start to understand why we do addictions, how emotions play such a big role and how we can take back control.

What is an addiction?

Addictions are behaviours that we do that we can’t stop even if we want to. They help us avoid feelings we don’t want to feel and instead provide safety, comfort and relief in a moment when we may be feeling anxious, uncertain or uneasy.

Essentially, addictions suppress, cover up or hide our true feelings.

Did you know you can be addicted to almost anything? It could be chocolate, coffee, lollies, shopping, exercise and even drama?

Although we say we want to stop these behaviours because they bother and annoy us, this behaviour actually gives us something. The pleasure and the reward the behaviour gives, outweighs the pain and difficulty it takes to stop.

Some of those rewards may include relief, happiness, relaxation, energy, excitement, satisfaction…

Or, maybe we just get an overall sense of feeling better!

We've all had some success in overcoming emotional eating, but it only for a short time? Kicking the habit long-term is the challenge, right?

We've all tried the diet, we've removed the chocolate and the temptations from the house, we say we'll do better tomorrow, but fall into the same trap the next day.

To overcome food addictions, we need to find out what’s underneath that's driving the behaviour and resolve that. When we heal that aspect of our pain, we no longer need the food because we are no longer avoiding the feeling and what's really missing.

How do we do we overcome the emotional eating addiction?

Firstly, it’s important to build awareness by noticing what emotion is triggers the desire to want to eat.

That means being we build awareness around what starts the behaviour?

A word of warning though, the urge to eat can be triggered in many different ways.

For example, we could reach for chocolate when we’re bored, when we're stressed or overwhelmed, or even when we're relaxed. It could be at work, at home or in social settings.

The common thread though is that what’s underlying the addiction to the chocolate is the same, even though the triggers may be wide and varied.

How do we build awareness?

Start by noticing what is happening right before you reach for the chocolate or do the undesirable behaviour.

Look at your environment…

Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing?

Notice how you’re feeling…

Notice where you’re feeling that in your body…

Listen to what the voice is saying in your head…

Make notes in a diary or on your phone on what you’re observing.

This simple act of awareness brings our attention to the pattern and the triggers in the moment it’s happening.

What we're aware of, we can change. What you’re not aware of, you can’t.

With this information we can create a more supportive environment to avoid certain triggers altogether. We can remove temptation, certain people from our life, and create a healthy work and home environment. Most importantly, we have choice. In the moment the urge strikes we can stop, understand what's really going on, and then make a conscious choice what we need in that moment.

With awareness we can choose to do a different behaviour when we notice certain thoughts and feelings coming up. We could go for a walk, play with the kids, go for a shower, meditate, put on some music, call a friend or loved one to talk about how we’re feeling…

We can then change our thoughts to more empowering thoughts in the moment.

By changing our old behaviour with a new behaviour and combining that new behaviour with a new thought we create a new belief.

Without a new action, words and affirmations alone do not change the underlying belief or subconscious pattern because we need the action to prove the old belief wrong. Over time we gather evidence that supports a new belief system.

By combining words with a new action, the old subconscious belief gets updated, upgraded and eventually overwritten.

While setting up the best possible environment for success is important, we have to find ways to express our feelings in a functional and healthy way so we don't suppress and push our emotions down.

When we learn to communicate and express ourselves and our true nature, any behaviours that do not serve you will fade because you’re allowing yourself to be you.

To create permanent change it takes commitment, self-reflection and consistent action. For many years we hold onto stories about who we think we are but now it’s time to rewrite your story and create the life you dream of.

Ready to learn more about how you can change your thinking and unlock your true potential?

Learn more about my coaching program and rediscover you!

"Love your body to health"


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