It is not only humans that emotionally eat. Our lab Copper started feeling stress when she watched our daughter and her boyfriend leave to return to college yesterday after a week of hanging out at our house, playing games, watching movies and just chilling with each other.
Today, Copper watched as our son packed up his bags and headed out the door back to college. In less than 15 minutes after he left, our dog snuck the ziplock bag off the kitchen counter and ate an entire loaf of "Just a bit healthier banana bread".
If you think you are the only person who eats when they feel lonely, or sad, or bored you are NOT alone. Even dogs do it!
Question: How does a person stop emotional eating?
Answer: You must be willing to sit in the discomfort of your feelings.
So often, we are unwilling to face what we are feeling so we numb the feeling with food. But what if we paused and felt what it was like to feel sad.
To feel lonely.
To feel bored.
It is not something that is easy to do.
Feelings are real and when they are unpleasant we don't want to feel them. We want them to go away as fast as possible. Emotional eaters know that food can fill the feeling. We know it works. But it only works until the banana bread is gone. Then what are you left with? A belly ache, no banana bread and the feeling you were feeling with possibly more feelings stacked on top, such as guilt or shame. We create the perfect storm to keep eating. It seems so much easier than facing what we are feeling.
Remember when you were 10, and you felt sad, or lonely or bored. What did you do? More than likely you didn't turn to food.
Or think about when you were even younger and you were scolded or told to sit in the corner. You were forced to sit in the discomfort, but you made it through. How did we lose our ability to be a bit uncomfortable? How did we learn we needed instant gratification? Heck, how did our dog learn she need instant gratification? If we can start to relearn how to sooth ourselves without food, we start to take away the emotional pull food has to fill our feelings.
Here are some soothing suggestions:
Feeling Soothing Action
"I feel sad" Cry.......listen to music.........brush your hair..............put on lipstick
"I feel lonely" Read a book...............Watch a TV show...........Text a friend
"I feel bored" Do a 5 minute clean up.............Dance to your favorite song
When it comes to emotional eating, we are not the only ones, even dogs do it.
Do you have ways to sooth your feelings without food? I'd love to hear what works for you.