Emotional Eating Advice; Thanks but we already Know

No More Diet Advice

They can’t wait to tell you what’s wrong with you and beam when they give you all the answers.

After hearing from your friends or Facebook cohorts on the issue of your emotional eating, you nod your head and tell them they’re right of course. Then you change topics in as nonchalant and as quick a way as you can. You do this because you know with certainty that after they dish it out, they’ll expect you to act on it – since they are experts having seen a show on it on Dr. Phil – so you can then be cured of your eating woes.

What you usually get is a mixed bag of definitions, symptoms, stories and ‘tricks’ that are guaranteed to work. The issue is that you already know all of this. All the while you are hoping that these people just stop asking, telling and digging away at your problem so that you don’t have to go to a place that feels too risky and vulnerable. I’m talking about your emotional control (or lack of), which is something that is difficult for anyone to put on display.

What You Would Like to Say:
If the conversation did become more intimate, you’d say that you don’t know why but you can’t stop your emotional overeating and that you are embarrassed about it. That you feel that people are judging you (which they likely are) for it, and that no amount of willpower is ever enough. You’d say that it feels hopeless.

What is Generally said:

These are the things that people commonly tell you:

– You eat beacause you are looking for love
– You need to explore your relationship to food
– Give yourself love in other ways like a bubble bath or scented candles
– You eat to calm down, try some yoga
– Drink lots of water and eat filling vegetables
– Eat smaller meals throughout the day
– Don’t shop when you’re hungry
– Don’t skip meals
– Stop eating when you feel full
– Control portion sizes

These are said as if they were mind-blowing radical new ideas.

What these well meaning people don’t know is that:

– It’s almost impossible to just stop eating emotionally no matter what anyone teaches or reveals to you about the condition.
– Emotional issues often take years to resolve and that there are no special diets out there that will help.
– They themselves likely also have an emotional issue that manifests itself in other ways, and that it shares the same root with the emotional eating issue.

Everyone has something … it just shows up in different ways.

Almost everyone you know and can see is walking around out there in the world with a strategy or coping mechanism to deal with their unresolved past emotional scars. They have behaviors that are unhealthy or at least not in their best interest, and either shrug them off, react defensively or explain them away with sound reasoning.

Looking at Everyone Else, and, ‘Warnings Don’t Help’

Let’s take smokers as an example. Many will say that it’s very HARD to quit and that it can take several tries for just a few to be successful. They have patches and gum and other technologies to help them quit and still, many of them can’t. Many will also say that if they did quit smoking that they’d be afraid of gaining weight – which is just another way of saying, “If I quit smoking, which is my current way of coping with my emotions, I’d have to replace it with another coping mechanism, and likely it would be food.”

This is proof that the problem is not so much a phsyical addiction to the tobacco (although that is a part of it) as much as it is an emotional dilemma.

Then there are the numerous warnings on TV and even on the packages themselves. It’s the only product I know that has a picture of a dying bodypart on it (a blackened lung) and a warning that consuming the product has been shown to cause cancer in everyone and birth defects in children! And yet people still buy it, even those in the medical industry.

If people can’t stop smoking after getting warnings like that then what can you possibly say to a smoker? What kind of advice do you think will help and what do you expect from them after you’ve given it?

The answer is ‘not much’ to both.

We can go through compulsive gambling, drugs, shopping, sex and workaholism in the same way we did with smoking above, and we’d arrive at the same place … EMOTION, not logic.

*** NOTE – All the above substances/behaviors can be cut out of our lives completely and we’d still survive. That gives those particular coping strategies a ‘slight’ edge when trying to quit over emotional eating. This is because emotional eaters HAVE NO CHOICE but to eat at least 3 times per day, and, they must simultaneously try their best to make sure they eat enough, but not too much. Not an easy task.

But back to well meaning advice from others …

Again … We Already Know

Just like the smokers’ warnings above have no effect on them, the same can be said about emotional eaters.

We know it’s bad for us but we just CAN’T stop. Trust us, we would if we could.

All the warnings in the world won’t help. Neither will most of the advice. The issue is much more complex and goes to a place where most of us don’t want to go. It’s why it isn’t really addressed so readily nor sought after so frequently.

The Best Thing to Do

When people want to give you advice and put your problem out into the spotlight for all to see, try the following:

Find an answer or reply that stops the conversation abruptly, and that gives the other person no other place to go. An example would be to tell them that you are in the middle of trying out a book or program on the matter at the moment, but will definitely look into their ideas soon. Or you can say that you really like their idea but you are busy at the moment and won’t be tackling the issue until your ducks are in a row – starting a job, quitting a job, waiting for kids to be older, finishing school, moving, etc.

Or if you don’t mind being direct you can say, ‘thanks’ and nothing more while maintaining eye contact for a long while. This is a polite way of saying, ‘go away.’

Knowledge is not enough. If it was most of these types of problems would have been solved long ago.

You have to go deep and explore the source to enable any lasting, permanent change.

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