Emotional Eating: What are you trying to feed?

2004's "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" from Universal Pictures

The most common complaint I hear from my students and clients is, “I don’t feel at home in my body.”  They simply don’t feel good in their own skin. They have a deep, emotional hunger — and so many of them try to eat their way out of the discomfort.

Does this sound like you? When you encounter difficult moments in your life, do you find yourself turning to the transient comfort of food? When you’re fearful, lonely, dissatisfied, frustrated, bored, resentful, anger or sad, do you overeat to numb out the pain?

If so, I want to offer you some simple, Ayurveda-inspired, no-more-Band-Aid solutions that will help you feel at home in your body again. These techniques aren’t about imposing hard and fast rules. They are about deep listening.

Do you overeat to numb out the pain?

It starts in your heart. Ayurveda says that knowing when we begin living unconsciously, in the moment that dysfunctional behavior first occurs, is the first step. Next, bringing loving awareness to these behaviors in these moments starts to unravel these destructive patterns at their roots.

With that in mind, consider the following conscious behaviors to begin balancing your weight while simultaneously addressing your deeper emotional hunger.

Give yourself the loving attention you need before you eat

Before eating, take a moment to close your eyes. Bring your attention to your belly and breathe slowly. Ask yourself, “What do I really need?” Ask yourself: am I hungry, or am I just angry? Tired? Lonely? Exhausted? Bored? The moments before you eat are the crucial. It’s when you have the capacity to move from the unconscious realm of compulsive and dysfunctional behaviors into the realm of awareness. This is where healing begins.

Be aware and eat mindfully

Before you take your first bite, bring consciousness to the way you eating. Are your standing up? Are you in the car, on the cell-phone? If so, slow down. Sit down. Relax. Breathe deeply into your belly. Be with the food. Concentrate on the senses — what does it look, smell and taste like? Engage in the action of eating, rather than wolfing down food doing other things.

Eat slowly and chew your food well

Did you know that digestion begins in the mouth? The action of chewing sends important messages to kick start your digestive system. By eating slowly, you allow the natural processes to take place and become aware when you are feeling full.

Don’t put out your fire

According to Ayurvedic principles, when we overeat, we weaken our digestive fire. Whatever we cannot digest turns into accumulated pollution and toxins in the gut. This has a dramatic impact on how we feel. It is also the reason why many women who eat lots of healthy food can remain thin, dry and brittle.

Relax

Finally, relax. Relaxation has been scientifically proven to help in weight balancing. When we are under stress, our body produces a hormone called cortisol. When we have too much stress, this hormone actually tells our body to store excess fat for some impending doom. This breathing practice will help you melt away tension and balance your hormones.

This article was originally published on Katie’s blog.


Photo: 2004’s “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” from Universal Pictures