Let’s discuss the three most common misconceptions about emotional eating and what is true. I used to be so guilty of believing all three of these misconceptions, and it was not until I changed my perspective on emotional eating that I felt I was actually in control of it.
Misconception: Emotional eating is related to a lack of willpower or self-control
Truth: Emotional eating is related to a lack of coping mechanisms
Emotional eating isn’t due to your lack of willpower but rather your lack of coping mechanisms. When life gets tough, you have learned that food makes you feel better at that moment. Therefore, food has become a way to cope. Resisting food when you’re upset with pure willpower will only last so long until your willpower runs up and you return to the food. The best way to stop this type of eating is to find other coping mechanisms to bring into your life.
Misconception: Emotional eating only occurs when one is experiencing a negative emotion
Truth: All eating is emotional eating
We celebrate birthdays with food. We celebrate weddings with food. We celebrate graduations with food. We celebrate promotions with food. There are so many things that we celebrate with food involved! These are all emotional experiences that bring food into the picture. Food is social and, therefore, emotional. Breaking the label off of this being so negative will help us not feel so icky about it. Breaking away from the negative stigma will help us feel better, and that’s the goal, right?
Misconception: Emotional eating would automatically stop if you were happier
Truth: People who are happy, still emotional eat
If you feel you eat when you are experiencing a negative emotion and believe you would stop if you were happier, I hate to tell you that is not the truth. The fact is that we are human, and even the happiest humans have tough days. If you eat when you experience a negative emotion, that is because you are using food as comfort. Until you learn another skill to comfort yourself when you are having a tough day – even if you were happier, you might still turn to food as comfort on those occasional bad days.
If you struggle with emotional eating, the problem is not the eating itself. The problem is not knowing how to navigate the emotion you are eating over. Get to the root of the emotion, and the rest will work itself out.