There is no fitness term or cliche that outrages me more then “emotional eating.” We've all heard it, “I wish I could lose weight but I'm such an emotional eater.” So why does this term bother me so much? I believe that we are suppose to be emotional eaters. If you look through our history every country, culture, and religion uses food in one way or another to honer and enhance our emotions as well as our connection with each other. From myths of ambrosia to the body of Christ, cake on birthdays, champagne at weddings, chicken soup for the sick, and casserole for those in mourning. Food and emotions go hand in hand.
The first time I really understood this was when I was a freshman in high school and my grandmother passed away. I wasn't close to her either geographically or emotionally. As we were staying at her house preparing for the funeral, members from her church, the library where she worked, and different community groups stopped by with food. When her best friends who she had known since college came by, she had a box of cookies and a bag of potato chip “salt for your tears and sweats for your memories.” She said. After she left my mom chuckled and said “Mom always said Martha couldn't cook.” We shared food and stories of my grandma, it was nurturing and connected us to each other during a tough time.
So now does that mean when you have a bad day and eat a whole box of oreo's its perfectly natural and healthy? Yeah not quite.
There is such a thing as stress eating. Now, and this is important, stress is not an emotion. A rubber band can not be happy or angry or sad, but a rubber band can be put under stress. When we are physically or mentally stressed, over worked, or pushed to our limits it becomes hard to be fully present. When we are stressed out we often turn to cheap easy food and often aren't even aware of eating it.
So if it's just an issue of semantics, stress eating or emotional eating, why does it bother me so much? Well since the term emotional eating has grown in popularity it seems that food now falls into two camps, bad or healthy. So much guilt is now involved in eating anything that's classified as “bad” that we lose the emotion it should include. If we stop putting so much stress and guilt on food and started to enjoy it and most importantly used it as a way to connect with each other we would be much healthier. So hear is my challenge to you, sometime in the next week make an effort to share food with someone. It could be cooking a big family dinner or eating ice cream while listening to someone who's going through a break up. Share food, be present, and connect with your emotions.
If you'd like to share your experience with emotional eating we can keep the conversation going. Comment below with your ideas, questions, or comments. Also you can reach out to us privately by email or on any of our social media outlets. We'll be talking more about food, habits, and healthy lifestyle and mindsets so please subscribe to the blog as well as our YouTube channel.