Being a mom means a lot of emotional ups and downs. Sometimes, during the down times, there may be a desire to soothe and comfort yourself. For many people the go to way to do this is with food. Unfortunately, the foods involved are usually higher in sugar and fat. But even if they are healthy choices, a lot of emotional eating will still add unnecessary calories.
On the flip side, emotional eating can also be a part of happy emotions if used to express love. Children take all of this in and begin to form habits around how food connects to emotions. They follow the examples they see. Quieting an upset child with food sets them up for a life time of turning to food for comfort. If you find yourself doing this, think back to how you learned this connection and then purpose to not pass it on to your own children.
Here’s a way to break that connection. Next time you feel on the verge of eating to soothe an emotion, I’d like you to try this. I want you to say out loud what it is you are trying to do and see if it makes you laugh or cry.
For example, if you’ve had a hard day at the office and your mother-in-law calls and asks you to do something for her and you feel overwhelmed and under appreciated and so you feel like grabbing some ice cream and eating it to feel better then you simply say all of this out loud to yourself. You say, “because people at work are bullies and my mother in law is demanding, because I feel picked on and not valued then ICE CREAM will fight for me”. (feel free to visualize the ice cream in a super hero cape). “Yes, ice cream will make people treat me better and understand how valuable I am.”
Without even trying, your mind will question this and begin to look for a better solution like standing up for yourself at work or looking for a different position or getting your husband to take on his mother’s demands or whatever. Instead of burying the feelings under ice cream, you will either laugh at the absurd idea that you almost turned to food or drink to solve your problems or you might cry because you slow down enough to realize that you have a serious need or issue that needs to be addressed, not disguised. Either way, the food may lose its allure.
No technique works for every person in every situation but put this one in your toolbox to try sometime and let me know what you think. Habits like turning to food to soothe and avoid dealing with something can be challenged when you pause to not grab food automatically but instead to ask yourself what do you really need or want. I want you to get what you really need and not a substitute. Even if you still eat the food, you may have moved closer to solving the problem that drives that behavior and if you don’t eat it, then you know you have a new tool to use as needed.