Updated: Apr 11
"Ooh yes please, I'll just have another one."
"I will just work another hour and then I will put the laptop away."
"I don't know where the time goes, ok I'll just do this one more thing and then I will give myself a break."
How many times does the one biscuit, just a little glass of wine or a few pieces of chocolate end up being the whole pack, bottle or bar.
My tendency is to over work, over consume and over indulge. It was a consistent pattern I had. I am not sure I was even aware I was doing it. I mean of course I was! But it was like a fast moving train and I couldn't get off it. What happens with this consistent "over" doing it? It becomes a habit. We could even give it another label and say it is an addiction in itself. And one that you don't like about yourself. So that it slowly eats away at you.
And if we identify ourselves as the "over doer, over eater, over indulger" we become it. We identify as "This Is Me". Its not. I promise you it isn't. This identity is not helpful.
For me the term "emotional eating" buckets too much in under one umbrella. Referring to yourself as "I am an emotional eater" becomes part of your fabric. Instead what it is is a behaviour and habit. Emotional eating never felt right sitting on my tongue when others talked about it. In fact I dislike labels and frankly I am sick of them. Why do we have to label everything??
Why do we have to label everything??
It is coming up to two years since I drank alcohol. It would be three years but for some reason people still think that you should drink to be a social human being. And for a year I succumbed and would have a glass of wine to be "sociable". I don't do that anymore, my identity today is a woman who does not drink and loves being a human who doesn't. I am so proud of myself for being true to myself and stopping something that never made me feel good.
Anyway back to emotional eating. I love to find patterns and trends and so over the last six months I finally figured it out. And I am going to share this insight with you so that it may help you or someone else you care about.
I started to notice when I used to eat stuff that I didn't really want to eat or eat too much of it. Starting with the below four theories felt right to me, I wrote these down;
1. How much of my eating is just a Habit?
2. Is there a consistent theme to those days?
3. Is there a recurring emotion/s or person or stimuli when it happens?
4. Other - maybe some random other reason that I hadn't thought of!
I then left it percolate for a few months. All the while journalling, creating new healthy habits but not banning anything. Each time it would happen I would try not to be hard on myself. Round and round I cycled with it. At times getting frustrated, and then it fell into place. That is the joy of doing things slowly and with ease.
The pattern was this - when I am tired and over stretched I go for food. Healthy and not so healthy. More likely the latter.
More than 85% of the time! I couldn't believe it! 85% of the time it was number two above. When I over-schedule myself, going from one task or meeting to the next, without stopping for two minutes. This may seem obvious, and it is, and also it is not. Allow that to seep in for a moment.
If we are always running from one thing to the next what happens to our mind and our body?
We get tired, depleted, exhausted. And we make poor choices and decisions. Our beautiful body, she needs fresh oxygen and energy. When we go from task to task we don't get time to take a breathe and get some new air and prana into our cells. The body is seeking sweet yin energy. Yin is a receiving and soft energy. Our bodies are seeking softness. She wants us to slow down and take a moment.
I have for years interpreted this need for slowing down and need for more energy as eat more to get that feeling. I used to eat dark chocolate which has theobromine in it, equivalent to the caffeine hit. Or I eat sweet foods to soothe the nervous system. So first it was not resting enough or taking enough of mini breaks, or too many meetings and then the habit was to reach for the "hit" to keep going or sweet foods to take the edges off.
It is a wonderful realisation to recognise this. It means that you now can change and shift the pattern. Remember they are just habits, they are learned and therefore they can be unlearned. Ideally with a gentle approach. As my yoga health coaching community would say, don't judge yourself for your actions, just start with becoming aware. And then you can take the steps to create rhythm in your day.
Remember your sweet body, she just wants us to step back and receive a hug now and then. Wrap your arms around her, give her a hug and afterwards some fresh air to gift yourself with fresh energy and perspective.
Susan Sheehan supports, guides and mentors women to understand, nourish and embrace your body, mind and heart. Radiating Inner Wisdom is an annual programme that Susan invites women on. It cycles through the wisdom of Ayurveda, Yoga and women's cycles with habits for the modern women. When you create rhythm in your life you can tune into your desires, give a voice to them and take action to live aligned to them. All with other women and a great big dollop of kindness to yourself.