Is confusion ruining your diet? Wait what? Huh?

I think all of us will agree that stress makes people eat. Or grief. Or celebration. Thankfully, these emotions are fairly easy to identify and associate with overeating.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we’re all emotional eaters. Some more than others, of course, but we all eat emotionally.

Emotional eating is eating to change the way we feel. And many of us eat when we feel stressed or happy or sad.

But what happens when we’re nothing but a big tangled ball of emotions after a long day, and we suddenly feel crazy because we can’t identify what we’re feeling at all?

We hate our job. Our spouse is giving us the cold shoulder. We got into a fight with a coworker. Our kids are being unappreciative. The laundry is piling up…

Unfortunately, there’s no escape button.

So when we’re faced with emotions that we don’t even understand ourselves, food can seem like an easy way out.

And while food can certainly provide us an escape (albeit a temporary one), sitting with this big ball of feelings – as opposed to suppressing it with food – although uncomfortable, can help us sort through things so we can really see what our reality is.

When there’s a lot going on, the key is to sorta act like Vanilla Ice (wow, never thought I’d write that in one of these) and instead of, “Stopping, collaborating and listening” we want to slow down, look, listen and feel.

Because if we don’t, this overwhelming feeling can create so much noise in our head from all of the stuff that is going on in our lives, that the idea of going into what I call a ‘food trance’ seems so appealing.

When we’re tempted to overeat because we feel overwhelmed, it’s helpful that we:

Try to be really S P E C I F I C about what this BIG tangled up ball of emotions we feel actually consists of. Imagine it as a giant rubber band ball (remember those things?) and one by one we want to take off one rubber band at a time.

One by one we’re getting specific and identifying what our ambiguous feelings actually consist of. Essentially, we’re figuring out EXACTLY what is on our mind…

Then, the real magic happens when we come up with ways to deal with each “rubber band”. And having a plan, and knowing exactly what we’re feeling is way more comfortable than feeling like a giant ball of emotions without any plan.

While food gives us momentary escape (and this is why our short term, irrational mind is so drawn to this), it blocks us from reaching a long-term solution.

When we work to understand what we’re feeling, there is always so much clarity, insight and possibility, and that feels very exciting.

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