Emotional Eating Traps: I NEED a Treat

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“I’ve been ‘good’ all day/week.”

“I DESERVE this.”

“A cheat day keeps your metabolism guessing.”

It’s all code for “Food is still my reward of choice.”

Is that who you want to be?

Here’s the thing:  We learned this behavior from birth.  Oral soothing is a thing.  When babies cry, we give them a bottle or a pacifier.  When we want toddlers and young children – and sometimes teens — to be quiet, we give them candy as a soother or distraction.  And it is actually soothing.  It works in the moment.

Either mouthfeel or memory or both will dictate what works best for you, but honestly, sometimes it is just anything, right?

I LOVE creamy things.  It could be ice cream or avocado or peanut butter (smooth or crunchy) or a creamy soup – if it’s creamy, it’s soothing somehow.  If you’ve heard my story, you’ll know that if I was circling the refrigerator getting yet another spoonful of peanut butter, I was trying to keep my feelings in check whether that be sadness, loneliness, or frustration.  “I can keep them ‘over there’ so I don’t have to deal with them right now by distracting myself with another scoop of peanut butter.” 

What’s your indicator food?

We train with food, we celebrate and commiserate with food, we bond over meals together.  It’s part of our culture, and food is a wonderful thing until we take it to overindulgence or soothing rather than nutrition. Honestly now, how many “treats” have anything to do with nutrition or physical hunger?

I know.  Oftentimes that “treat” food is just a temporary bandage over our feelings or needs that we can’t meet and may not even yet recognize.

So what do you need?

Here’s an exercise:

Identify the ache – what is driving you to food for comfort or stress relief?

How old do you feel when you think about this ache?  Are you your current age?  In your 20s or 30s? Teen? Younger?

Who’s voice do you hear and what do they say?

What happened next?

What food were you given or did you go to as a soother?

See how that works?

What do you actually need in this moment?

How can you meet that need other than with food?

Pro-tip:  Consider something you loved at the age when this started.  It’s probably already a soother for you – WHEN you allow yourself the time and space to enjoy it.

I love jigsaw puzzles.  I find them very calming – they have order and reason and clean organization.  Things always fit.  However, they take up space and time – but stopping long enough to work on a puzzle even for a few minutes is good for my heart and does much more for me than food ever could.

What else soothes you?

When you need a little help unwinding your need for a treat, message me for a chat.  Sometimes one good chat can change everything.

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