Emotional Eating – Numbing Feelings

I saw this quote and immediately remembered one of my (many) favorite quotes from Brene Brown: “We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

When working with individuals on emotional eating, I like to remind them of that.  When you don’t allow yourself to feel sad, hurt, frustrated, angry…you won’t be able to feel happiness, joy, peace… The problem isn’t that you don’t want to feel bad, it’s that you don’t want to feel anything.  Feelings make us vulnerable and can be uncomfortable for people, but as you become more aware of your feelings – and remember they are just feelings – you are better able to be present with and accepting of them.  You then become better able to be present and accepting of other people’s emotions and truly connect.  Allow yourself to feel – it allows your understanding, wisdom and compassion to grow!

Life experience often teaches us that our emotions are too big to handle.  We also are often told how we ?should? feel, which leads to feelings of guilt or shame when we don?t meet that standard. I encourage you to take a non-judgmental stance to your feelings.  Welcome them.  Understand and validate them.  Just like a child who wants attention and love from their parents, your feelings just want to be heard and recognized.  They are less likely to be stressful when they don’t feel unwanted.

Something to keep in mind is that while we may assume that feeling happy is our goal, I actually think a more effective goal is to feel peace.  Then no matter what is happening around you – you can find a peaceful place where trust and wisdom live.

Finally, feeling your feelings all day long can sometimes feel overwhelming so finding things to distract yourself here and there is actually a great coping strategy (and I encourage you to think of things that really meet your needs in that moment). It’s when you are consistently numbing feelings or eating when not hungry often that it could turn into a physical and mental health issue.

Last but not least, you don’t stand a chance against emotional eating if your body and mind are not well nourished.  First line treatment must include eating well-balanced meals consistently throughout the day.

I would love to hear your questions, comments or concerns regarding emotional eating.  Let us know and we will do our best to help.

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD