Writing to you from the west coast! Dude, the west coast is so pretty and cool. AND YOU GET 3 HOURS OF EXTRA TIME. Amazing.
A few days ago I was talking with a friend who was feeling upset and a little ashamed that she’s been eating a larger amount of “unhealthy” food lately because she’s been stressed out. That’s a totally normal thing to feel…but it’s problematic and dangerous.
When we judge ourselves for eating a certain way, i.e. the way my friend was judging herself about her temporary larger intake of “unhealthy” food, we make ourselves wrong, shameful, and unworthy in some way. And when we’re in that unworthy, ashamed place, we tend to do one of two things: we keep overeating because we just feel bad about ourselves, or we launch into a diet or food restriction/manipulation of some kind…which ultimately backfires and can lead us to binge eating or more and more periods of overeating. Either way, feeling ashamed about our behavior around food promotes food and body chaos.
If you get down on yourself for overeating or even just eating something “unhealthy,” I want you to take a different approach—so that you really deal with your emotions instead of dealing with them exclusively by eating.
The next time you start to judge yourself for whatever you just ate (or are currently eating), I want you to take a big inhale and exhale (conscious breath gets you out of your head) and say to yourself, “It’s totally okay that I’m eating this/ate this.” Or, “It’s totally okay that I’m emotionally eating or binge eating right now.” When you make your behavior “okay” or acceptable, you remove the shame that you (and society) usually put on yourself…which makes that food or behavior around food less charged and therefore less appealing or satisfying in some way. When you remove the shame around it, you have the mental space to also deal with the emotion that’s causing you to eat.
From a moral standpoint, binge eating or overeating is neither good nor bad. Food is neither good nor bad—even when you’re eating it for emotional reasons. When you start viewing food and your behavior around food as more neutral, you’ll find that food becomes just one of the many ways you can deal with your emotions, and that you can face and work through your emotions, too.
This is a heady topic. I’m asking you to flip the way you’ve been taught to think about food, your body, and emotions. But if you want to stop eating over your emotions and actually deal with them, you have to start with believing that eating over your emotions isn’t wrong in the first place.