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How to feel your feelings instead of using food to ‘fix’ them

I spent years, decades even, fighting my feelings.

I have always been an emotional person, even as a child.  I feel my feelings so deeply that they literally take over my entire body at times.

This was always difficult to deal with and I distinctly remember trying to articulate this as a teenager, to no avail.

My childhood wasn’t happy so I spent my teenage years trying to numb my feelings in various ways.

I was loud and always had to be the centre of attention.

I had controlling boyfriends whom I just wanted to please and I pushed any real friends away.

As soon as I could, I would go out partying and drinking to momentarily take away any pain or discomfort that I was feeling.

Then, aged 19, I discovered diets and I realised that controlling my food was the best way to bury my overwhelming feelings deep, deep down.

I became a master at this but it ultimately meant that I was living my life unfulfilled.

I was completely at odds with my personal values and the impact I wanted to have in the world because my head was always elsewhere.

To cope with this soul-destroying existence, I would restrict food all day then promise myself chocolate in the evening.

For many of us, when we feel unhappy, stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, tired or bored, we gravitate towards food to make ourselves feel better.

You may do it consciously, or you may do it unconsciously, but if you find yourself eating when you’re not physically hungry – you’re doing it.

When this is combined with diet culture, we then often overeat because we want we have told ourselves we shouldn’t have more than ever!

Plus, we leave ourselves so hungry that we just want to eat anything in sight – it is a biological inevitability.

We feel bad, we eat the food.

We feel better for a moment then we feel bad again.

And each time we do it, we reinforce the negative cycle.

Over time this habit becomes deeply ingrained and leads to overeating, poor nutrition, weight gain, health problems, guilt, and shame.

This behaviour and self-talk are so much more unhealthy than any food you could eat.

So, how do you overcome it?

Two ways.

  1. Stop restricting foods and start respecting your body instead of giving it rules.
  2. Learn to sit with your feelings.

You want to enjoy food, right?

Yet you don’t want to dictate your life.

You want to be in charge of when you indulge in pleasure foods rather than feel like your cravings are controlling you.

The only way to do this is to stop running away from your emotions and unpleasant feelings.

This may feel strange at first, counterintuitive even, but trust me, I have coached countless clients through this and it WORKS.

It is also how I managed to heal my relationship with food.

When we stop running, the struggle ends.

When we start listening to what our hearts and minds are telling us in a kind and compassionate way, we begin to find food freedom.

We let go of what is not serving us and we get back the energy to shine our light on the world.

Think back to when you were a child, that monster under the bed was only scary until you turned on the light.

Think of that light as being your curiosity right now.

Your chance to be open and honest and truly understand where those feelings are coming from so that you can actually fix them once and for all.