Emotional Eating: Stop Using Food as a Crutch

In this Nutrition Bite we address “The Why, Who, What, and How of Forgiveness” and how that relates to weight gain and emotional eating.  We also provide a 3-step exercise you can implement to help you overcome Emotional Eating.

Let’s take away the taboo and address “The Why, Who, What, and How of Forgiveness” and how that relates to weight gain, emotional eating, and being out of control.

We all have various levels of stress in our everyday lives. Personal conflicts with friends and family which can lead to poor self-esteem, stressful work environments, trying to balance home and work life, and many other contributing factors induce stress which can impact our healthy eating choices and preferences for “comfort food”.  

Feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy, and other energy placed outside of yourself, is energy that’s not available for your own use to move positively toward your goals. 

While our emotional well-being may be influenced by all of these outside forces we all have tools to help you fortify your natural responses to these triggers.

If you’d like to get off the roller-coaster of mixed emotions, please do yourself a favor and take a look at this resource from our interview with Dr. Felicia Williams, PhD in organizational psychology, award winning expert in both love and business relationships.

The 3-Step Exercise to Overcome Emotional Eating

Step 1: Figure Out Who You Need To Forgive

Coping mechanisms start as a reaction to a stressor. In emotional eating, the more you use food, the more your body associates it with combatting stress, and the less control you have over how much or how often you consume the food. 

To regain that freedom, you must first identify your obstacles. As Dr. Williams says in the interview we had with her, “Forgiveness is the path to acceptance, and acceptance is a doorway to freedom.” 

From the interview: “In step one, we start by asking the question ‘Who do I need to forgive?’ The interesting thing about this question is it doesn’t have to be really deep. Just ask the question and close your eyes for a moment and notice who comes to mind without censoring, and without justifying. Just notice who comes to mind. Who do I need to forgive?

Here you can be really specific. It might be a specific incident, the way you were treated, or someone who abandoned you, or betrayed you, or broke your trust, or who said they loved you and acted otherwise.”

Step 2: Write Down Your Reflections and Emotions

Writing is a powerful form of meditation. Putting your thoughts specifically your emotions on paper helps you better identify, understand, and process them. 

Free-form writing allows you to free your brain of the need to hold on to difficult memories, unresolved issues, or negative emotions, giving it space to see the situation in a new light and move beyond it. 

It also gives you the ability to come back to things, or connect dots you normally wouldn’t connect if you had to keep track of everything in your head. 

Furthermore, writing down your emotions will increase your self awareness about how you respond to situations, which will aid you in dealing with similar feelings in the future.

From the interview: “Take a moment and notice how you feel as you remember and you think about this person and what happened, and where in your physical body you feel it. Maybe you feel it as heaviness somewhere or tightness in your chest, stomach, or throat. 

If you don’t feel it as a specific sensation, maybe it comes to you as an image. This might be like an image of being in prison, trapped, in a cage or alone. Notice how that incident didn’t happen today but you still can feel and have an image of it that’s so vivid and so real in your physical body.”

Step 3: Learn to Let Go

The power of letting go is not to be underestimated. Beyond this exercise, how much emotional weight are you carrying that is not serving you? How many criticisms from others or yourself are you holding on to, judging or bullying yourself over? 

Contemplate this long enough, and it will make sense why you would seek out food to ease your burden. Would you wish that on anyone else? Hopefully not! Think about that when you complete the final step of this exercise. You deserve a life of joy, abundance, and freedom, so reduce your emotional burdens as often as you can by mindfully and verbally letting.them.go.   

As Dr. Felicia Williams has said from an interview we had with her: “Take a moment and breathe into that place that feels constricted or heavy or painful, and as you keep breathing into that place, just say out loud ‘I release; I let go.’ Breathe and notice… 

‘Who do I need to forgive? What do I need to forgive them for? I release and I let go.’ ”

Bonus Step: Speak These Affirmations

Strengthen Step 3 by saying this expanded list of affirmations aloud…

From the interview: “ ‘Today I forgive for good. I release myself from all past pain. I release the weight of all suffering. As I forgive, I am liberated, light, and free. Today, I forgive for good. I release myself from all past pain. I release the weight of all suffering. As I forgive, I am liberated, light, and free.’ ”

If you’re able, keep your completed exercise posted where you’ll see it when you feel inclined to eat to manage your emotions; perhaps taped to the fridge or the container your trigger food comes in. 

When you notice yourself reaching for food, ask yourself, “Am I eating this because I’m hungry, or is there another reason?”

Set aside time to go through this exercise on a regular basis; do it either once a day, week, or month. 

By committing time to process your emotions and actively release negativity, you will feel your mental strength, peace of mind, and willpower improve. With these changes, you can overcome your emotional eating and any associated negative outcomes. 

We hope you loved this 3 step exercise and find that with practice, these tools become second nature. 

Don’t let misplaced negative emotions zap your willpower! Stay on course to achieve your goals of looking good, feeling good and moving forward to create a greater self-confidence and enjoy that healthy lifestyle you deserve.  

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