What do I mean by “cracking the code” of emotional eating?
Lots of people have said to me, I have no idea what I’m feeling or what’s going on inside. I know it’s something emotional but I’m so mad and upset at myself for eating, I don’t have a clue as to what’s actually going on.”
Or they say, it’s nothing emotional, that they have trigger foods and it’s all about the food.
If you’re not sure what you’re feeling, your food choices may offer a clue to your emotions. Often, what you think of as a “trigger foods” points to the true trigger, the underlying emotion, need, or conflict.
Ice cream, frozen yogurt, pudding, and those types of smooth, creamy textures, suggest a longing for comfort, for soothing and nurturing.
If you “have a sugar thing” as many people do, that’s code for needing or wanting more sweetness in your life. More kindness, friends, love, or attention.
You might not be someone who turns to sweets. Maybe your go-to food is something along the lines of bagels, cake, bread, pizza, pastas, that kind of thing. These foods are correlated to loneliness, since they are bulky and symbolically fill an internal void. If you crave these types of “filling” foods, that’s a clue you may be feeling deprived or lonely and using food to symbolically fill up.
Potato chips, pretzels, apples – think CRUNCH! – are associated with anger. If crunchy foods are the ones you turn to most, you may be angry, frustrated, annoyed or anxious. Perhaps you’re taking those angry feelings out on yourself instead of directing them towards the people or situations that are actually causing you to be upset. Who would you be mad at if you were not mad at yourself for eating?
Now, many people also say, “I absolutely know what’s going on with me. I’ve felt my feelings. I’ve processed them. And nothing changes – so clearly FOOD is the problem.”
My answer to that is they’re feeling emotions they’re aware of, but something else is going on that’s out of awareness – but not operation. If you’ve cried for a hundred years, and you’re still sad, there’s something else that’s not getting expressed – anger, for instance. Or if you’re mad, and you’ve been super-angry for a long time, maybe underneath all that anger is sadness.
When you take care of what’s in your head and your heart, you stop needing food to distract your from uncomfortable feelings and thoughts – you’ve processed them!
And that’s how you win the diet war.