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Once you start down the path of emotional eating, it is hard to turn around and go back the way you came. Because breaking the habit of emotional eating is such a hard thing to do, we wrote this book to say to you, “C’mon let’s do this together.”
Stop Your Emotional Eating is all about helping you put a stop to a well-integrated habit, a mindset, and behaviors that have been keeping you overweight.
This book addresses the pitfalls and the possibilities involved in getting rid of emotional eating once and for all. The book is divided into three parts. Part One is called “the proof of the pudding” because it lays the groundwork for seeing emotional eating for what it is. Part Two is called, “is in the eating”. It is a compendium of emotional eating ideas, ways to think more fully and clearly about your emotional eating. Part Three is entitled “stop”, and that’s just what it is all about—how to stop your emotional eating. In “stop” there are lots of strategies you can use for all the different aspects of emotional eating you might be facing.
Suffice it to say, there is an emotional component to all eating experiences. We like what we eat. We despise what we just ate. We take pleasure in eating it. Eating last night was no fun at all.
Eating food doesn’t just quell our hunger. It fills our minds with all sorts of ideas. We think of ourselves as stronger for having eaten the steak, and we like the way that makes us feel. Or we’re excited about getting healthier because we ate dark greens. Eating can make us feel guilty. “I shouldn’t have eaten the French fries.” Eating can make us feel unhealthy. “Too much salt.” Eating can make us feel all of our emotions.
We celebrate with food—holidays, birthdays, births, and on and on. Joyous feelings. We mourn with food that keeps our sadness in check. We just have to have a piece of whatever it is because of how it will make us feel. What about a snack before bed? We’ve earned this reward. Time for us to perk ourselves up. More food. More emotionalized eating.
There are all kinds of emotional triggers for eating—situations, relationships, moods, thoughts, memories, feelings. You can probably break down triggers into two main categories: extrinsic and intrinsic. Sometimes something outside of you leads to you feeling like eating; at other times it is something inside you that does it. The smell of those delicious chicken wings gets you right where it hurts—memories of good times past. You want to celebrate these good times again now, and so you have a hankering for some of those delicious-smelling chicken wings. That’s an extrinsic trigger. A common intrinsic trigger is a mood state that you need to lift up, get away from, set aside, etc.
So, if emotional eating is such a natural part of who we are, why is emotional eating such a bugaboo? Truth is, emotional eating is not bad when it’s in the normal range. Emotional eating is bad for us when it causes us to gain unwanted weight, and we can’t lose this weight because we keep eating to handle our emotions. Curiously, though, emotional eating in the normal range is not without its own weight gains. Everyday, garden-variety, normal emotional eaters do gain weight when they celebrate with food or if they are triggered by mood. The weight gain is not permanent, though, and the emotional eating is not permanent either for these people. It’s temporary, situational, and circumscribed.
Besides not being able to lose your excess weight, emotional eating is bad for you when it doesn’t allow you opportunities to develop more adaptive ways of dealing with your feelings. Feeling depressed? Eat over it. All well and good. But eating over it doesn’t help you counteract the negative thinking, the all-or-none thinking, the terrible self-criticism, the low self-esteem, the bad memories, the longing, the loneliness, the dependency, all that goes into making you feel depressed.