She is a powerful leader and passionate advocate for building nourishing new narratives for us, that don’t include depriving ourselves of the cultural foods we grew up eating. She’s been featured and quoted in Well+Good, NY Times, and Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health Podcast. Check out her work and learn more here.
When you type “Emotional Eating” into Google, what kind of article titles do you notice? Which websites pop up? Things like “Stop emotional eating”, “fight your cravings”, and “ditch your emotions” are commonly at the top of the list. For some reason, it seems the loudest voice comes from diet culture. And it’s almost always saying that if you’re eating from a place of emotion, there’s something “wrong” with you.
You’re about to spiral out of control, end up in a place of despair, and feel horrible about not just your body, but about yourself as a person.
This is ridiculous! The American Psychology Association (APA), derived from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, clearly defines emotions. According to the APA, “Emotions are conscious mental reactions (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feelings usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.”
So, why do we spend so much energy focusing on what’s “wrong” with emotional eating? It’s clear from the APA’s definition of emotions that it’s typical and expected for emotions to give rise to a change in behavior. Eating is a behavior. Labelling “emotional” eating as “wrong” is the real problem, not emotional eating itself.
Feeling guilty or ashamed for eating emotionally or for deriving pleasure from eating only makes us restrict food, which then turns into a binge, creating more guilt and shame. This pattern of restriction and binge can become a deep spiral and can cause Disordered Eating, or even an Eating Disorder.
All too often, we’re told that being excited about eating is a bad thing. That there’s something wrong if we enjoy eating or get excited that we’re going to have our favorite food. We’re told it’s impolite or that it means we lack self-control or discipline.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. At Way, you may notice that our first principle is to have a safe, non-judgmental environment, to make self-exploration better and more enjoyable.
That’s why we talk about excited eating early on – we want to make it abundantly clear that when you are making a long-term change in your relationship with food, embracing excitement is a powerful tool.