True Confession: I Am a Recovering Emotional Eater.

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered my true relationship with food.   I knew that I was struggling with a sugar addiction for the past few years, but I would sweep it under the rug and tell myself that I just loved food and it was solely because of stress.

Although stress is a trigger for me, it wasn’t until I recently started intermittent fasting a few days a week, when I discovered that I couldn’t run from this disordered way of eating.  If we are all honest with ourselves, each of us has somewhat of an unhealthy relationship with food. We all binge eat or deprive ourselves of food for our own reasons, the same way we may deprive ourselves or overcompensate with other external stimuli, such as relationships or finances.

While I was intermittently fasting (which is amazing, by the way) I was able to be one with my body in a way that even meditation couldn’t provide.  If something or someone triggered me in the middle of my fast, the first thought would be, “What can I eat?”  Honestly, that does not change much in my day to day life when I am not in the middle of a fast.

I started to notice a pattern.  If I was sad, I would eat sugar.  If I was anxious, I would eat sugar.  If I was happy, I would eat sugar.  If I celebrated something great in my life, I would eat sugar, and then I would feel bad so I would eat more sugar. Don’t get me wrong… I would fit in those vegetables and fruits, but it was as if my mind had tunnel vision and all I could think about was pasta, pizza, cheese and ice cream.  There were days I would cave and eat Burger King.  I was somewhat aware of this unhealthy eating pattern that I would shame myself.  I would hide food & sometimes eat on high alert as if I was committing some sort of crime.

That isn’t to say you should judge yourself if you have this challenge, but ignoring it doesn’t solve the problem.  I took up spin class, hiking, and meal prepping healthy foods,  thinking those were the ‘solutions.’ It doesn’t matter if you exercise every day or eat vegetables and fruits.  You must treat the underlying emotional triggers and issues.

It forced me to get real honest about why I emotionally eat most days of the week.  Some things that bubbled up had to do with feeling lonely and exhausted, not being in the career I want to be in full time, finances, fear of never being whole and nevering meeting another ‘whole’ woman, etc… Other reasons were in relation to who I would become as my best self.  After all, loving yourself includes taking care of your Spirit, your emotions & your physical body — your temple. During the times I would take care of my whole being, I felt empowered in a way I never knew was possible.  I felt sexy.  I felt like I could conquer the world.  For me, that was almost too much to bear.  To be seen and heard is so far out of my comfort zone that it would trigger my ego into old patterns of self-sabotage again and again and again.

I really wanted to share this part of my life because I kept it hidden for so long.  I was mad at myself that I couldn’t fix this, especially as a Massage Therapist, soon-to-be graduate of Intitute for Integrative Nutrition, and aspiring Life/Health Coach.  It made me believe I couldn’t help others because I didn’t conquer these obstacles already. Although I wholeheartedly believe in authenticity, the fact that I am bringing this struggle to the Light instead of keeping it in the darkness is a start.

If I had any piece of advice to give, it would be to be gentle with yourself throughout this process of unraveling.  Sit with your emotions. Honor them.  Work through them.  Find a healthy outlet for your emotional wounds that serves you.  If you slip back into old patterns, that is ok.  Stay conscious and aware enough to make a change that is for your Highest Good. You are not alone and sharing your story with others does make a difference.

Are you an emotional eater? Do you currently have an unhealthy relationship with food or did you have one in the past? I’d love to hear your stories!