What is Emotional Eating?
It’s easy for us modern 21st century humans to forget that, for the vast majority of human history, most or all of the population regularly endured periods of starvation or food deprivation. On one hand, due to scientific and economic advances, we’ve learned how to create an abundance of food, so that starvation is no longer an immediate concern for most of us, especially for Americans. On the other hand, the declining quality of our food supply, chronic stress, and a toxic environment have spawned an epidemic of “diseases of affluence”, the most common and most obvious being obesity and obesity-related diseases, such as Type II diabetes.
One time at a training class, Vianna Stibal (founder of Theta Healing) was asked what percentage of people are overweight or obese simply because they eat too much. Her answer was surprising (at least to me!): 2%. Yes, just 2% of overweight people are that way simply because they eat too much!
For the other 98% of us that struggle with our weight, there’s more to it than simply eating too much food. There are various causes for this, including emotional eating, toxicity, nutritional deficiencies (especially minerals and other micronutrients), and allergies/food sensitivities. In my experience, the most common and most untreated cause is emotional eating.
So what exactly is emotional eating? I define it as follows:
Emotional eating is the act of eating food, or drinking beverages with calories, for reasons other than because you are hungry or to provide nutrition for your body.
If you are like me and find that food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, don’t worry, I have no intention of asking you to forever give up the things you enjoy! Instead, our goal is to identify and shifting our food/diet energy and behaviors so that we are no longer at the effect of our addictive and destructive eating/drinking patterns. After you’ve established healthy eating habits, you can enjoy the “bad stuff” in moderation and with discretion.
During this special event, we’re going to explore the common reasons for emotional eating, and provide practical, powerful solutions you can use to get to the bottom of your emotional eating issues and make a positive, lasting difference in your relationship with food.
For today, we want to recognize what’s really going on when we eat for reasons other than to satisfy hunger or provide nutrition. Essentially, all forms of emotional eating (and drinking) are ways of self-medicating to change the balance of your brain hormones. Believe it or not, food is just as powerful as any drug, herb, or supplement to change your body chemistry, particularly your insulin levels. After all, Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine who lived in Greece around 400 BCE) famously said,
“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food”.
Because food is generally easily available, relatively cheap, and socially acceptable (at least compared to drugs like alcohol, marijuana, or caffeine), it is the most common tool used to self-medicate. As a result, there is a great deal of potential for abuse. In fact, overcoming emotional eating and establishing a healthy relationship with your food can be more difficult than an alcohol or other drug abuse problem, since – unlike alcohol or other addictive drugs – you can’t just stop eating for the rest of your life because it’s a problem for you.
And don’t think that just because food is familiar, cheap, and accessible that it’s not dangerously addictive. In fact, there is a famous experiment which showed that laboratory monkeys given the choice between heroin and sugar would nearly always choose the sugar!
But don’t be discouraged – there really is hope! With a little bit of knowledge and some “emotional power tools” like Theta Healing, you can get the core of your emotional eating and make a significant, permanent, and enjoyable shift in your relationship with food. It may not be easy, but the prize is certainly worth the effort: you get to feel better, look better, have more energy, and be healthier for the rest of your life!
Final note: if you are serious about improving your diet, be sure to get (or review if you have it already) my book Spiritual Weight Loss. Because this book is a free download within the VIP Club, I’ve made an effort to avoid duplicating that material here, but instead to complement it by going into more detail on the topic of emotional eating. It is not required for you to have or read Spiritual Weight Loss, but it is highly recommended if you want to get the most out of this material. As a result, just about all of this special event material is brand new, with the exception of Day 2 (causes of emotional eating) and Day 6 (allergies and food sensitivities), which include excerpts from Spiritual Weight Loss that are “direct hits” on emotional eating.