I don't like how today is going. Guess I'll eat something.
Ever have days like this?
If you always reach for something to eat whenever you don’t like how you feel, you eventually create a link between food and your emotional needs. And it seems to work.
But at some point, overeating numbs your feelings and you can stop noticing what’s missing in your life. Food simply provides a legal, socially acceptable way to escape from reality.
Although eating may temporarily soothe an emotional need, unfortunately, the end result never matches your dream.
Food becomes the consolation prize.
It’s better than nothing, but not even close to what you really wanted—to be loved, appreciated, or comforted.
Whenever you reach for something to eat but know you aren’t hungry, stop and ask yourself, “What do I really want or need?”
Remind yourself that food will only be the consolation prize. Then think about how you can address your needs in some other way instead of expecting food to take care of them.
1. Recall any recent times when you ate in order to feel better. Perhaps at a family gathering, you used food to fill your need for love and acceptance. Or maybe you reached for a snack to calm your anger or frustration at work.
A couple years ago, after my husband didn’t get the job he thought was for sure going to happen I didn’t care about anything for a couple of days. So I had wine, pizza, and ice cream. Of course, food was the consolation prize that I got instead of moving closer to my family with the potential new job.
2. Describe other personal experiences with emotional eating.
At my sister’s house, I eat ice cream to feel connected and happy. Sometimes, I’m playing “catch up” with feeling close to my family, and feeling love. Instead, I feel empty or lonely, so when I finally see them, I eat a lot to soak up the love.
3. Even if you initially felt better, consider whether the food really met your needs or if it was just the consolation prize. Then identify what you really wanted instead. Write a few notes about this.
Of course, food just fills the empty spot where things are missing for me.
With my husband’s job, I was SO disappointed. At my sister’s house, I wish I’d been able to have children, because now I’d maybe have grandchildren like she does.