Emotional eating is something many of us learn from a young age.
We are taught that bad, yucky feelings like loneliness, guilt, shame, envy, sadness, and anger are not desirable, and that they should ideally not be experienced. We are sadly not given much of a crash course in how to sit with these uncomfortable emotions and work through them in a healthy way.
When these feelings arise in us, we understand we are meant to get rid of them as quickly as possible by pushing them down or wishing them away.
This is where food comes in on a white horse. Food is delicious and never judges you. It brings a feeling of satisfaction and fullness, however temporary, that is comforting.
As time goes on and you practise self-soothing with typically unhealthy or sugary foods, the brain learns to link these foods with an emotional release.
Just like nostalgia can make eating a certain food from childhood transform into a multi-sensory taste sensation, particular comfort foods may become your security blanket. You turn to them time and time again, and they never fail to fill that hole.
We develop relationships to foods that can lead to us finding excessive pleasure in them, over other self-care activities. I don’t know about you, but I’d take a gooey tray of brownies over a lavender-scented bubble bath any day of the week.