Separating Food From Feeling

Food is a comfort for many of us. Whenever we feel sad, stressed or lonely we try to stuff the feeling down by finishing an entire bag of chips, eating an entire frozen pizza, and a whole pint of ice cream (if you can’t tell, these three in that order are my regular comfort food combo). We fill ourselves until we’re sick and before we know it the ‘bad’ feeling returns, so we reach for another treat to take the edge off.

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It’s problematic for innumerable reasons. For me the main issue is that it fuels my self loathing. When I’ve finished binging and I’m sitting there feeling sick I only beat up on myself. I criticize being unable to check my impulses when it comes to eating and then I start to pick at my fitness routine. It’s a spiral that only leads to more food and more shame. There’s also a physical fallout. My stomach is extremely sensitive and consuming certain foods can lead to a lot of pain. And that leads to more shame…. the whole situation is a mess.

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How does one go about separating food from feeling without developing disordered eating habits? I have tried food tracking before and while it’s been helpful it became obsessive in a very unhealthy way so I’m hesitant to give it another shot. What are my other options?

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There isn’t a quick fix, trust me, I’ve tried. I can follow a new routine successfully for weeks or months at a time, but when my feelings become too burdensome I drown them out with food. It will take time developing healthier eating habits, but there are some methods we can use to get there. Hope to Cope has a post about Emotional Eating Food vs. Feelings that lists some strategies to get there, the most helpful being to face the feelings you’re trying to fill. Wish me good luck, and good luck to you if you struggle with emotional eating!

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