How Creating Space Can Help Heal Emotional Eating

This morning I woke up feeling “off”. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on the reason why, but I knew something wasn’t right. Despite that, I continued with my usual morning routine of journaling and doing a short yoga routine to wake up my body. I got through the yoga but now was feeling antsy instead of feeling refreshed like I usually do. I thought that maybe journaling would help but that wasn’t flowing either. I could feel the frustration growing and all I was thinking was that I might have a challenging day ahead! So, rather than beat myself up for not following my usual routine, and then being all dramatic that skipping it today was a “sign” that I wouldn’t want to do it ever again, I gave myself permission to not do it.

After taking a few deep breaths and checking in with myself, I decided that running errands might do the trick today. To some, that might not sound like a very reflective thing to do, but it was an opportunity to get out of the house, interact with people face-to-face (which is great for me as I’m behind my computer most days), and knock a few things off my to-do list which is always welcome!

Well, after treating myself to a delicious and nourishing breakfast at Panera, I was off to run my errands. The errands went smoothly and I got everything done. As I was checking off my list, I could feel my mood shifting. Maybe I was feeling a sense of accomplishment or maybe it was just that I was allowing myself to just freely go about my day without pressuring myself. My previously heavy thoughts were starting to ease up and I welcomed it.

It occurred to me that giving myself space to just “be” was just what I needed. Instead of “shoulding” myself and/or pressuring myself to “do” was helping me get out of the funk I was in. It was also a reminder of how important it is to allow these feelings to just be without trying to always change them. It’s okay to be in a funk sometimes. Feeling uncomfortable isn’t something most of us relish, but it’s a place we could all benefit from being in sometimes. Why? Because it’s in the discomfort that we often find our answers.

It’s in the discomfort that we’re reminded that our feelings will pass if we allow them to.

It’s in the discomfort that we realize that maybe the discomfort is our body’s way of saying that we need a break or a change on our routines.

It’s in the discomfort that we have an opportunity to be more self-compassionate with ourselves for not having it all figured out yet.

It’s in the discomfort that we realize that we can give ourselves the space to just be and stop doing all the time.

When I used to use food to cope with every single emotion that surfaced, waking up and feeling the way I did today would have caused me to emotionally eat. At that time, it’s all that I knew. The truth is that I didn’t know how to handle feeling uncomfortable or give myself the space to figure it out. Turning to food brought me instant comfort, so naturally, I would use it to feel better.

Since my recovery from disordered eating, I’ve learned to use other coping mechanisms that don’t involve using food to anesthetize myself. Now I do things that give me the space I need to just be so the answers will come to me naturally. I now have a box full of tools that I turn to when I’m feeling “off”. And, I give myself permission to use whatever tool I need without judgment. Today, my tool of choice was treating myself to breakfast and running errands. Another day, it might be heading to the gym. Some days I might need to do both before the mood passes. Some days, none of those will work and I’ll call a friend, read a book, meditate or nap. 
 I think the most important point to remember is that we all have “off” days when our vibe is low. Having tools to help us during these times is important for everyone, but especially if you’re prone to turning to food for comfort. No matter what tool you decide to use, the importance needn’t be on what you decide to do but on allowing yourself to use it without judgment. Tuning in to see what your body needs and finding a tool that meets those needs is what matters. Also, allowing yourself to change it up if you notice that the tool you’ve chosen isn’t making you feel better, ditch it and try another. Just go with it and know that you’ll eventually find what you need so be patient. Judging, being impatient and numbing out with food isn’t the answer. Of course, if you do turn to food for relief, you needn’t beat yourself or feel shameful. Sometimes that may be your tool and that’s okay. Remembering that relief comes in many different forms is key. However, when we’re loving, self-compassionate and patient with ourselves we can more easily see that we have other options other than the food.

If you need help in discerning your needs and are prone to chronic emotional eating, my free eBook Are You Really Hungry? is a life saver. It poses two very important questions that you need to ask yourself before reaching for the food when you know you’re not hungry. Click here to download your free copy.

Michelle Vina-Baltsas is a Food & Body Relationship Specialist. Her passion is to help women shift their mindset so that they can finally live without the constant preoccupation with food and their bodies. She was imprisoned by chronic dieting and body hatred for decades but now has a thriving relationship with both food and body. Michelle enjoys all foods including kale salads, green juice, ice cream and cake! She believes that all foods and bodies can fit in our lives and that happiness is never found in a number on the scale or our clothing size. Michelle is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Certified Holistic Health Coach and an Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Practitioner. She teaches her clients how to cultivate healthy lifestyle behaviors instead of worrying about weight and size using the intuitive eating model.

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