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Must Know Truth About Emotional Eating Part 1
If you ever wonder whether or not you are an emotional eater, the answer may surprise you. If there is something that I want for you from the deepest core of my being, it is this. So I’m not going to say stay tuned. My dear, I insist, I urge you to listen to this one.
Hi there…how are you doing? Welcome to episode 6 & today I want to talk to you about emotional eating…a topic so so close to my heart. What I’m going to teach you & bring to your awareness is something that I wished I knew 20 yrs back…it is something that I see majority of the humans struggle with…n when I say majority, I mean 99.9 % of people. Now yes, I’m talking about emotional eating & you must be thinking that not 99.9% of humans struggle with this but what I’m about to teach is so much more than just emotional eating. Its actually about EMOTIONS.
And I’m sure you’ll be like Oh ya, this might be applicable to 100% of humans…ya. We are emotional beings and this education in my opinion should be taught in schools on a widespread level like we are taught about maths n history & geography & biology but not how to take care of ourselves when we feel powerless in the face of anger & loneliness & anxiety…right…
Anyways, I’ll be dividing this topic of emotional eating & emotions and the wrong way to deal with emotions & the wiser way…all the good stuff in a couple of episodes…I don’t know how many - maybe 2 or 3…we’ll see…but today, we are going to clarify and understand certain basic say misconceptions about emotional eating…ok
So, to get started lemme ask you, “Are you an emotional eater?”. Take a moment & think about what comes up for you…yes, no, maybe…sometimes, often, rarely…
Really notice what comes up for you…
If I define in very simple terms, emotional eating means eating in response to an emotion.
Notice I said response to an emotion, not hunger.
Just ponder over how many times in a day or week, you only & only eat in response to true physical hunger when your needs fuel to function & carry on. Ya…
Do you eat only & only when hungry?
See I always say when we pay attention i.e when we bring our awareness to something, that is the beginning & a solid beginning for long term behavioural change. It is very easy to simply notice, Oh I’ve put on weight or I want to lose weight, let me google diet foods or go to a dietician to get a diet plan. But that doesn’t…and frankly speaking cannot ever solve your weight issue for good. You’ll understand why, as we proceed.
Anyways coming back to your awareness being your brain coach, your awareness being your super power…
So bring your awareness to this question & honestly look at if you only eat when hungry…
Now if you are not sure, I recommend that you to play with question throughout the week in real life situations…like every time you eat, ask yourself, “Is my body genuinely hungry?”
Now, if your answer is No, I don’t…I don’t always eat when hungry, then you are an emotional eater & you are aware of it…which is great. Acknowledge that you are a step ahead than most women who are not aware of it.
Now I want to highlight, how our culture perceives an emotional eater to be…like we all have seen sitcoms & movies where the heroin after a break up is weeping & sitting with a tub of ice cream.
I remember a scene from "Dil Dhadakne Do” movie where Shefali Shah, she is angry at her husband Anil Kapoor’s affairs & she is shovelling down chocolate truffles in bathroom & even smears some on her face…something like that.
And currently I’m working with a client, a brilliant young doctor, who started binging huge amounts of food mostly alone & at night, after her mother passed away.
What our culture pre supposes is that emotional eating is some deep dark secret that mostly some women struggle with & its associated with these biggies like sadness, grief, loneliness, depression & suppressed anger.
And it’s only found in some women who are not able to affectively cope with some huge, dark, chaotic life situations & so they are an anomaly & there is something wrong with them.
But nothing could be farther from the truth…
Firstly, emotional eating is not just the inability to cope with the big obvious emotions like depression, sadness etc…
You know when you are irritated by the traffic & you reach your workplace & grab a coffee & a cookie, thats emotional eating.
When I’m irritated with Gaurav & I land up kitchen with my first instinct to grab an apple, thats emotional eating.
When you have a disagreement with your boss or co worker or husband or even a friend & you overeat at dinner, that’s emotional eating.
When you are anxious about a work deadline & you grab some namkeen with lemonade…
When you are excited & are celebrating with food & you can’t stop eating the dessert or cake…
When the kids annoy you & reach for a chocolate
When you are bored & entertain yourself by getting creative in the kitchen
When you are dissatisfied with how your career or finances are shaping up & reach for the tea
When you are simply experiencing the vague restlessness that is an essential part of human experience & fill your bowl with ice cream at night.
When my husband Gaurav is standing in front of the pantry cupboard mid morning & thinking which namkeen to eat
These my dear friend are all examples of emotional eating….what…
Yes, so come back to the definition, eating in response to an emotion.
So not just the obvious, blatant, in your face emotions…it’s all the emotions that are a part of human experience including - irritation, annoyance, anxiety, disappointment, restlessness, jealousy , worry, inadequacy, boredom, happiness, connection, excitement…the entire range of what it means to be alive. That’s the first myth busted.
The second thing I want you to know is that, emotional eating doesn’t only show up in weak-willed women who are incapable to cope with emotions or have lower intelligence than the rest of the people or that there is something wrong with these women.
Far from having a weakness or lower intelligence or low skill level, emotional eating most often is seen in high functioning, driven & ambitious women. In fact what I have noticed is that women who are emotional eaters & are also aware of that have pretty IQ & are creating amazing lives for themselves.
It is just that they have never been taught to how to navigate & process the emotions in a more powerful way. So since they are very smart, they have found way to continue to lead a high functioning life which is by using food to keep going…ya
And isn’t it true for all humans…In my entire formal education, I was never taught to how to up-level my emotional intelligence. Oh yes, in fact we as a society teach our kids to suppress, distract & react to emotions. Not blaming the parents..they don’t know any better. They themselves have no tools to process their emotions & so they teach what they know is best.
I remember my first “attack” by an emotional storm was in class in 10th pre boards. I had a huge panic attack. ..felt completely helpless…the fear of not getting high grades & the fear of not doing well literally had me shaking & frozen. I didn’t know what was happening. My parents just couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I was a scholar student use to getting A+grades all throughout, so they were speechless. They just held me, comforted me, loved me…did their best. That day, like this was a day before the exam, I did well. And this instance was forgotten. Not explored or examined..nothing. And mind you, I have amazing parents…I had an amazing childhood…yet processing emotions & emotional education has nothing to do with deep dark traumatic events or anything. Well ok, it includes all that but just to point out, that it also includes all the day to day, routine situations that our brains don’t have instant solutions with or lemme say that our our routine micro situations in life where we feel powerless around & we feel we are at the effect of such situations.
Anyways, that is why this topic is so so close to my heart…how to cultivate emotional intelligence in my opinion is a basic & critical life skill which I think should be taught as a part of foundational education in school, to all humans. Right.
Ok, so far we have established that if you eat without genuine physical hunger, you are an emotional eater.
Next is emotional eating comprises of even our not so obvious emotional outbursts but also the subtle everyday emotions of human life.
And the third thing that we have busted is that women who are emotional eaters have some weakness or anything. Not, its seen in high functioning individuals who are quite successful in their lives.
Next I want you to know that if you have extra weight, you are an emotional eater. Period. No question or doubt about that. Whether it is 5 extra kilos or 50, you eat in response to your emotions which is neither a good thing or a bad thing. Ok. I’ll come back to this in moment. Hold on.
Because I want to point out that if you are thinking, oh I don’t have extra weight, so I’m not emotional eater, lemme tell you that you can be.
So here's the thing if you are overweight, you are an emotional eater.
But you can be an emotional eater even if you have no extra weight. Emotional eating is not only found in the overweight folks…what…
Yes, so many thin women also eat emotionally & feel powerless around their emotions.
By the way, many women don’t use food to “cope” with their emotions, they may be using cigarettes, drugs, alcohol as well as seemingly legit ways such as overworking, over netflixing, overexercising, over spending, overpartying, gossiping…anything that you are over doing in life is your attempt to escape from uncomfortable emotions. Hands down.
But since we are talking about emotional eating, so this is about food. But in this series I will be teaching you how to process your emotions powerfully instead of using an external solution that takes away your power, so its going to be valuable even if you don’t have a weight issue.
So the thin folks, just because they don’t extra weight doesn’t mean they may not be an emotional eater. They may be good at compensating for all the extra food & that is why no weight issue but they still need to learn how to this inner work in order to be free…free from being a puppet of their emotions.
The last thing I want you to understand is that we are all emotional beings. There is nothing wrong in being an emotional eater. Its neither a positive or a negative thing. It becomes an issue when where you are is not where you want to be & more importantly its an issue because the underlying emotion as well as the life circumstance that triggered the emotion in the first place goes unresolved….
Let me put it this way, being a human it would mean that there will be times that you eat emotionally…which is not what we are trying to eradicate…no thats not the goal. The goal is to come to a place where you do that consciously from your higher brain. See when we are eating emotionally, it’s unconscious eating from a place of powerlessness…meaning this food is so tasty that I have no control over when to stop. Which is a lie…right. The truth is you always have control but when we are swept under the influence of our emotional brain, what we are doing feels almost hypnotic…as if you have no real control & someone or something else is making you do it…right!
When we don’t know how to process the emotion, be it any feeling, we instead of using our inner higher brain’s resources to tackle it, we react to it by using using an external solution such as food in an attempt to feel better.
Why is this a problem.
Firstly because you are using an external solution for an internal problem which needless to say does not work.
Secondly, it takes your power i.e it makes you dependant on that external solution. So you are always relying on food to cope with emotions.
And thirdly the actual emotion doesn’t get solved…you simply feel relieved in the moment. But the actual emotion doesn’t go away anywhere. The neural pathways of that emotions keeps getting stronger….the neuropeptides of that emotion keeps getting embedded in your body rather than being solved. Like have you seen out of proportion anger for seemingly insignificant situations or the build up resentment & a rage on roads or a horrible anxiety or worry attack in little situations…it is this what I’m talking about…unprocessed emotions.
That is it my friends. I hope you got clarity around whether or not you qualify as an emotional eater & also that if you are clearly aware that you are one, there is a way out which in my opinion is the only way out. In next episode we will continue this conversation & I’ll teach you the approach to deal with your emotions powerfully without needing food to shovel them down ….
Hey it would be great if you could leave me a review on iTunes. That would help in my mission & spread this message to more amazing women like you. Thank you so much. I will talk to you soon.