Psychologist Dr. Benda Wade shares her tips to overcome emotional eating.
We all have a unique relationship with food. It's a nourishing necessity for our bodies but everyone has grown up with different messages and reactions toward food. Oftentimes, binge eating is connected to extreme emotions, such as anger, guilt, and shame. If you or someone you know is struggling with binge eating, this step-by-step plan from psychologist Dr. Brenda Wades can help break the vicious cycle of roller-coaster emotions and bingeing.
Step 1: Change the Conversation About Your Body
Feelings of self-hatred and anger can get wrapped up in your own view of your physical body. Give yourself a chance to adopt a new view and develop a healthier relationship with yourself. Dr. Wade suggests that you go for a walk, get more rest, and take the steps you need to recharge and reset your perspective. When your body is healthy, you'll be able to see yourself in a new light.
Step 2: Find Emotional Support
Binge eating is often done in secret. When it's linked to guilt and shame, you won't want to engage in healthy social eating and drinking habits or you may continue to binge long after the party has ended. Dr. Wade recommends seeking out a support group. Chances are, you can't overcome binge eating alone. There are various options that you can try, whether it's through a formal program and therapy or reaching out to a registered dietitian, nutritionist, or simply starting by talking to a trusted friend, who can help you recognize the signs and triggers of emotional eating.
Step 3: Change the Message Around Food
You not only need food to live and thrive but you deserve and are worthy of the healthy food you consume. When you binge eat, don't let yourself use food as a numbing technique. Tell yourself that food is nourishment instead of a punishment.
Step 4: Nurture Your Spirit
Food should not be your go-to tactic for stress. If stress is your emotional eating trigger, you need to look elsewhere to relieve and manage your stress. Give yourself permission to relax with a non-food activity and reach out to others who can help support you and build you up so you can trust yourself when you're alone again, especially during stressful times.