How Do I Stop Eating My Feelings And Stop Emotional Eating – 3 Steps To Curb Emotional Eating

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How Do I Stop Eating My Feelings
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The bottom line is simple – meet your emotional needs.

If you are rolling over this question in your mind “how do I stop eating my feelings?” then please know the answer is simple. Meet your emotional needs.

Now, easier said than done. First you have to be aware of exactly what your emotional needs are!

Now this post will give you 3-Steps to help you become aware of your emotional needs. Remember, if you can get your emotional needs met, this is the ultimate solution to stop eating your feelings!

STEP 1. Ask yourself, “In this situation, what am I missing? What isn’t there enough of?”

STEP 2. Ask yourself, “In this situation, what does the most vulnerable child-like part of me, my feeling self, need?”

STEP 3. Ask yourself, “In this situation, what does the adult part of me need? How can I begin to get my needs met in a socially responsible way?”


Why Sometimes We Get Confused About Emotional Needs

It’s well know that we humans have emotions. Duh!

We all know that emotions are important. Duh! But sometimes, we don’t recognize our emotional needs.

If you’re unaware of your emotional needs or deny having them then the intense emotional craving may feel like physical hunger.

Like just the other day I talked with someone who just had an incredibly stressful day and couldn’t stop eating the entire day. 🙁

She had been freaking out about this huge project at work. Her whole team was freaking out. They had a ton of work to do in such a short amount of time.

I learned that she had worked for 16 hours straight for some big project deadline. But despite this time pressure, she procrastinated. She kept on eating sugary little chocolates, popping them into her mouth and delaying working on the project.

She’d find herself going to grab croissant after croissant. Sugary coffee after sugary coffee.

Despite the intense deadline, she procrastinated with food.

I’d seen this pattern before, talking with me she put the emotional puzzles pieces together.

First, stress had blocked her from connecting to herself.

Second, being blocked she didn’t realize she was lonely, highly irritable, feeling that work/life was incredibly unfair, feeling disrespected and not important. In essence, she was in horrible emotional state.

Third, the seemingly unstoppable emotional eating occurred in large part as a way for this woman to heal, get space, get control, feel safe, and feel loved.

Stress had frazzled her brain, she was trying to get her emotional needs met through food.

Food is pleasurable and temporarily meets some of our needs, but clearly it’s not food we hunger for.

Let’s get clear on emotional needs. To get clear on emotional needs, first let’s briefly review emotional hunger versus physical hunger.

Emotional Hunger Versus Physical Hunger
There are differences between emotional and physical hunger. Be sure you can tell the difference!

Identifying Your Needs

In the above image there are several criteria for emotional eating. These symptoms of emotional eating include:

1 – craving a specific food
2 – feeling guilt after you eat
3 – starts suddenly out of the blue
4 – hard to satisfy

So here’s what you want to do:

When you catch yourself emotionally eating … or having a strong urge or craving to emotionally eat

Like when you’re not physically hungry but you just want to eat for some crazy, powerful reason and food is the only thing you can think about

Then pause and go through these steps. You’re starting a habit-cycle which you’ve repeated 1000’s of times before. Now is the time to pause and figure out the real reason you want this food.

You can begin addressing your unmet needs by first identifying what there isn’t enough of, or what is lacking.

Often you’ll find that you can make a long list of what’s missing, and this will point you toward your needs.

STEP 1. Ask yourself, “In this situation, what am I missing? What isn’t there enough of?”

“Stage Of Life Needs” pictures gives a breakdown of our emotional needs from infancy to old age. Each stage represents the period when a particular need becomes predominant. Take a moment to review the diagram.

Stage Of Life Needs

What does it feel like there isn’t enough of? What’s lacking in your life? Which needs call out to you? Which needs are you longing to have met? Jot them down.

Be careful not to judge yourself during the process of identifying needs.

There are no wrong or right needs. Remember, it’s important to be gentle with yourself.

You may have just finally started asking yourself “How do I stop eating my feelings?” and now you are just getting real answers.

This process is messy. Don’t expect perfection.

Needs that have gone unmet are clamoring for your attention. It may feel strange to think about what’s missing or to feel so emotional about some aspects of your life.

Remember to practice Self-Validation with your needs as well as your feelings. It’s ok to experience great sadness, great anger, or great fear.

Try to view whatever comes up as a just a simple fact.

For example, just say to yourself factually and objectively and calmly – “I notice that what is missing in my life is time to rest and recuperate. I desperately miss this and I’m feeling a little bit embarrassed by how much I just want to sleep right now.”

The next is designed to make you feel the intensity of your emotions.

STEP 2. Ask yourself, “In this situation, what does the youngest part of me, my feeling self, need?”

Now please expect that by asking this question you might feel silly or defensive.

Your ‘inner child’ might sound like it desperately wants attention. You find a part of yourself desperately wants affection, or support, or validation, or recognition.

The urgency of these ‘childlike’ needs oftentimes can make people feel ashamed, guilty, silly, embarrassed or weak.

That’s not the case. Remember, you are worthy. You are worthy of love and affection. Sometimes a voice or a thought may pop-up which says that you are being silly.

But notice the tone of any one of your thoughts which dismiss your ‘inner child’s’ emotional needs.

Is this thought-tone gentle? Would you say this to someone you loved dearly? Probably not.

The voice in your head which negates or diminishes the valuable-ness of your child like needs is NOT the voice of your inner nurturer.

Now, admittedly, the intensity of your childlike-desires can feel overwhelming. That’s why we ask this question.

So that we really get clear on what we need emotionally.

But don’t worry – identifying our emotional needs is different than meeting your emotional needs. That’s why we ask this next question afterwards.

STEP 3. Ask yourself, “In this situation, what does the adult part of me need?”

In this step we take our clues from Step 2 and process our needs in an adult way.

In Step 2, when you asked yourself what your inner child needs, perhaps you felt a tremendous urgency for love and affection to a degree that is completely socially inappropriate.

Without judging, shaming or diminishing – now you simply practice noting what your inner child needs.

Then, it’s time for Step 3 – which is getting your needs met in an adult way.

Perhaps your inner child desperately craves touch, or patience. Now that you recognize what your inner child needs you can use your ‘adult mind’ to help you meet your inner need.

For example, instead of hugging your coworkers tightly in a bear-hug, you can give a high-five.

There’s always in 99.9% of situations a socially appropriate way to start getting your needs met.

You will really surprise yourself that you can get most of your needs met, if you give yourself permission to admit that you do need things!

But I’m Angry – This Doesn’t Feel Fair. learning ‘how do I stop eating my feelings’ seems tough!

Perhaps you’re feeling that it isn’t fair that many of your emotional needs remain unmet now. You can sense the great difficult in actually meeting your emotional needs.

Yes, it is tough. It is difficult.

You shouldn’t have to work this hard to simply be normal with food while other people have it easy.

It is terrible that you didn’t maybe learn some of these things when you were a child. It’s terrible that now you have to work harder to meet them yourself.

It’s natural to feel sad or angry about this. You deserved, and still deserve, to be loved, nurtured, and properly cared for.

The sad reality is that in adulthood it’s not possible to get all your emotional needs routinely met by others.

As an adult, you are best equipped to identify and meet your own needs. No one can do this for you. This doesn’t mean you won’t get any needs met by others.

It just means you’ll be able, more often than not, to meet many of your needs yourself.

This will free up your adult relationships to focus on adult needs such as intimacy, companionship, and recreation.

So this paradoxically sets us up for a way better future. We grieve our losses, and learn to live in more accepting way of living life on life’s terms.

So you asked “How do I stop eating my feelings?” and now you have my answer. What’s coming up for you?

About the Author

Hi there I'm Jared and this website is dedicated to Awareness. Welcome to Eating Enlightenment :)


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