Are You “Crunching” Your Way To Putting On Unwanted Pounds?
Claudia had no idea why she would rush to the refrigerator with such desperation to grab anything that was sweet, crunchy, and unfortunately, fattening. She only knew that when she needed this kind of forbidden food she had to have it. When she realized the reason it was a revelation to her. I will tell you what it was in a moment, but first let me ask you this.
Do you ever have food cravings even when you're full? Do you reach for the ice cream just a half hour after dinner and have no idea why? Do you do other inexplicable things with respect to your eating?
If so, you're not alone! For many people, favorite foods can become comforting friends. When you need a friend you may find yourself cuddling up with a salty snack or a box of cookies even though you aren't hungry. And – the pounds pile on.
If this description sounds like you, it's probably the result of "emotional overeating" as it turned out to be for Claudia. Food can be so soothing that it can allow you to avoid whatever negative emotions you may be feeling when the cravings strike. In fact, if you reach for the food fast enough, you probably don't even notice you're feeling anything unpleasant at all.
This is especially true of the emotion of anger. Society conditions us to keep our angry feelings under control, but sometimes, this includes not feeling the anger at all. If you're like most people, you're not comfortable with anger. Food is an easy way to keep this emotion at bay and avoid expressing it.
Of course, the problem is that your anger doesn't go anywhere when you eat unwisely as a way of handling it. You still feel the anger – it's just hidden from your awareness for a while by the temporary comfort of food. Meanwhile, the downside is that you gain pounds, and the angry feelings remain dormant, ready to come up to the surface and bring about yet another food craving. It's a no-win continuous cycle.
To get back to Claudia’s problem, she speaks to her mother on the telephone every week, after which she inevitably goes straight to the refrigerator. "I've got to stop eating so much sugar!" she tells herself; only she doesn't stop. The cake is right in front of her, and it looks much too tasty. It makes no difference that she just finished a full lunch.
Claudia's culprit turned out to be anger toward her mother. Unfortunately, expressing her anger openly to her mother has always blown up in her face. Her mother begins to cry and refuses to have an adult conversation about their problems. In order to deal with this and maintain a good relationship, Claudia has learned to suppress her anger toward her mother and pretend it doesn't exist. The cake helps her to keep the anger where she feels it must belong – hidden from her own awareness!
Claudia is just beginning to realize that her anger toward her mother is the cause of her overeating. She has always been aware that her mother can be frustrating, but it took her a long time to connect her food binges to her mother's weekly call. The problem has escalated to the point where Claudia turns to food when she simply thinks about her mother.
Whether or not Claudia chooses to express her anger directly to her mother isn't the point. She can express it to her mother if she wants, but most importantly, Claudia simply needs to find a constructive outlet for her anger that doesn't add inches to her waistline and doesn't keep her enslaved to unhealthy eating habits! Does this sound easier said than done? It's actually a simple matter of becoming aware of the anger and stopping before the habit of reaching for the food takes place.
You can certainly see the logic. Using food to suppress anger is the equivalent of "swallowing" your feelings, rather than expressing them. And the crunching action offers some relief because it satisfies the primal instinct to bite our enemies in defense. For this reason, crunchy foods may feel especially good at such times.
Here is something you can do immediately if you experience the problem of overeating due to anger that you cannot express openly:
Take a 3” x 5” index card and write the following sentence on it:
“Even though I'm angry at (insert name of person or situation) and can’t express this openly, I choose to honor my anger and deeply and completely accept myself (or “love myself," etc.) without judgment."
Before you go to bed each night, and after you rise in the morning (and at any other time you wish), read this sentence out loud to yourself three times.
This is a mini-version of the powerful "EFT Choices Method" which is a highly effective technique for combating emotional overeating. EFT utilizes the principles of acupressure by using light tapping on certain strategic comfort spots on your face and upper body to train your mind to become more peaceful and content – a great advantage for losing pounds. You will no longer feel that compulsion to grab for unnecessary food when you come into harmony with yourself and accept your anger.
Self-help techniques like EFT are especially important because they get to the core of the eating problem, while diets usually fail because they focus on what foods you are eating rather than the reason you're eating them.
If you find yourself consistently overeating and don't know why, you are probably using food to suppress certain feelings. The next time you are tempted to eat unwisely, think about whether you have any reason to feel angry, and begin to pay attention to your angry feelings. If anger is the culprit (it might be some other emotion) try the EFT exercise given above, and watch the pounds melt away!
About the Author: Psychologist Dr. Patricia Carrington is an internationally acclaimed authority on stress management. She makes it easy to conquer emotional overeating by counteracting the hidden emotions that can defeat any diet. To receive her Free Special Report: “10 Surprising Reasons Why You Grab For Food Unwisely –– And How You Can Stop Doing It!” go to www.ConquerOvereating.com .