Healing Through Emotional & Binge Eating: With Lauryn
Cause Helping busy women stop emotional eating and prioritize self-care is at the core of my work.
By Lauryn Briones
The media has been successful in showing us that emotional eating behavior in women is more than common. There’s a sense of familiarity when we watch actresses on tv face deep in a pint of ice cream after a bad breakup. And well, it is more common than you think, and some of us do it without even realizing it. So if you struggle with emotional eating, keep reading. Here, I’ll share my binge eating story, and how it is deeply connected to your mental health and how I’ve risen through these struggles.
I was in college when I first realized that I was emotional eating. Which was ironic because i was in the midst of getting a degree in nutrition. I was under so much stress and anxiety (typical college-kid reality), and I didn’t know how to get past it. A draining day at school or work was usually followed by binge watching my favorite shows, which led to me actually binge eating. It was like a routine or a trigger of some sort. I would notice that my binge eating became a problem when I would resort to eating whenever I was sad, or stressed out. Most of my go-to snacks were nutrient dense foods: dried fruit and nuts. But when bigger cravings arised, I would eat things out of the norm like chips and candy. And it dawned on me, that although I wasn’t even hungry, I would continuously get up to get more.
It was like I was trying to fill a void inside of me that I couldn’t fill on my own. I felt guilty and would punish myself with negative self-talk after a large sum of food. I always told myself “I wouldn’t do it again the next day, and that I need to eat “clean” or I wouldn’t be healthy.” The combination of negative self-talk, lack of self love, and restrictions I placed on myself, only made it worse. And yet, the binge-restrict cycle continued, until one day I got fed up with feeling like I had no sense of control, and tired of neglecting my emotions.
After a year of emotional eating, I finally figured out why I was doing it. The need to eat while watching a show was a habit that I subconsciously created to escape from real life stress. I also realized that I wasn’t taking the time to express the built up creativity that I had, and I felt alone because I didn’t have a seemingly popular social life. Really, I had no clue how to deal with stressful situations, and in turn, I filled those voids that are essential to mental hygiene, by eating.
What my body was really asking for, was social, spiritual, and creative food.
And I’m not talking about the food that you can physically eat, I’m talking about nourishment that the mind can acquire from having a healthy social life and being able to have an outlet to express your creativity and finding healthy strategies to cope with stress.
Many people experience emotional eating for different reasons. I like to view emotional eating as a symptom, rather than a problem. There is always a deeper underlying cause for binge eating. Whether it is unresolved childhood trauma, low self esteem, or stress, the underlying reason behind emotional eating is individualized for each person.
Here are some tips that I’ve used to help heal my relationship with food:
When the urge to binge arises, tell it to wait, then ask yourself if your hunger is coming from a physical or emotional need.
Checking in with yourself before you start a binge is the first step in healing your relationship with food. If you are physically hungry, eat. If you aren’t hungry, acknowledge your current state of mind and emotions. Are you sad? Bored? Once you figure it out, own the particular emotion, and let yourself feel it instead of trying to numb your feelings with food. Tend to your emotions with kindness and compassion for yourself. Listening to what your body needs physically and mentally will help you overcome emotional eating in the future.
2. Find something else to do
Emotional eating brings us a temporary sense of pleasure, which is why if were feeling down we seek pleasure from an external source such as food. Instead of eating, try something else that will relax you, or make you feel good. This is where self-care comes in. Hot baths, going for a walk, meditating, or trying a new hobby will surely satisfy your emotional needs.
3. Don’t restrict yourself
There are so many diet trends out there that people follow for a few weeks and then find themselves feeling deprived and hungry, so they resort to binge eating. Trying to make up for your binge by dieting will only make matters worse. For instance, if you are really craving a cookie, don’t avoid having it. Let yourself enjoy the simple pleasures of life, but keep moderation in mind. Resume to your usual healthy diet, and don’t look back.
4. Switch up your routine
When I was emotional eating I had a routine that would trigger a binge. For me, binge watching shows always equaled binge eating. Instead of coming home and sitting in front of the screen, I planned a workout. This helped me prevent both my binge eating and binge watching TV shows. Instead, I limited myself to one or two episodes per day. Creating boundaries for yourself is key.
5. Call a friend
Sometimes all we need is an ear to listen to us. Calling up a trusted friend or accountability partner has allowed me to get outside of my own head and be able to vent to someone.
6. Drink a tall glass of water. Oh, and add some berries or lemon to spruce it up.
Many times, we confuse hunger with thirst. The sweetness from the fruit can cut some of those sugar cravings you may have.
All in all, if you find yourself in the middle of a binge, enjoy it. Do not beat yourself up. You didn’t ruin your “progress.” Surrender to it and own up to what you chose to do to cope with your feelings. It is very important to approach yourself with kindness and compassion at this stage in your binge.
You are not alone. Millions of people suffer from emotional eating, and really, it’s not a problem, its a symptom. When you do the inner work, you’ll find yourself reaching for different forms of nourishment. You got this!
You can connect with Health Coach, Lauryn Briones via social and her blog below: