Is There Such a Thing as Non-Emotional Eating?

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

I eat when I’m happy. I also eat when I’m sad. Boredom, stress, disgust, frustration…almost every emotion possible drives me to want to eat. Except anger. When I’m truly pissed, I don’t really crave food. Alcohol, yes. Cigarettes, sometimes (even though I quit 10 years ago). Screaming, uh huh. But not food.

If only I was pissed all of the time. Maybe then I could finally reach my goal weight?

Because I’m an emotional eater, I don’t really know what it’s like to want to eat for non-emotional reasons. Like eating to live. Eating so my body has the vitamins, minerals, and energy it needs to function. Yeah. I have no idea what that feels like.

Now, I do know that food can never solve a non-food issue. I’m a certified nutrition specialist, for crying out loud. So, why do I still struggle with trying to use it for this very reason?

I’ve come to realize that my emotional eating is largely habit. I’ve been using chips and cookies and chocolate to self-medicate as far back as I can remember. To think that I’m going to change this overnight (or without a struggle) is just crazy. I have to undo decades of bad behaviors and it’s going to take some time.

The cool thing is, every time I make a good decision, I get one step closer to changing my bad behaviors for good. Sometimes I still slip up and eat that whole bag of chips or scarf down all of the cinnamon rolls in the pack. But those times are getting fewer and further in between. And I’m really looking forward to when they are gone for good!

It has taken me 45 years to realize that, when I eat, I’m not actually craving food. What I’m truly craving is internal peace. Or love. Or a sense of purpose. Or a way to reduce my anxiety. Or whatever else it is I’m trying to stuff down with food.

Reminding myself of this has helped me stop mindlessly reaching for food and, instead, think about what it is I REALLY want. And I can come up with things I can do that will actually help me achieve it.

If I feel stressed, I can go out for a walk, sit and meditate, or call a friend. If I’m bored, I can clean, dance around to my favorite music, or tackle a project around the house. When I feel like I deserve a reward, I can celebrate in a way that doesn’t involve food. Like ordering something off Amazon that I really want or taking the rest of the day off.

Food will never solve non-food issues. It just can’t. The sooner I get this through my head, the better. And the faster I will learn how to non-emotionally eat. If there really is such a thing…

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