Brain over Binge: How to Unlock Emotional Eating and Food Addiction
I love food, I can eat enough for ten people and still want more. I always take savoury over sweet, but I will enjoy sweet if it’s all that’s on offer. Generally, I don’t view myself as an emotional eater, I’m not sure I have a food addiction either. I simply enjoy food – it tastes good. I could hypothesize about this forever. Am I sensory seeking or do I have a disorder that causes me to want to eat more than my body needs. But with so many factors to consider, I’m not sure I’ll ever find the answer. Although I still love food, I have a reformed frame of mind.
So many people believe themselves broken when they overeat. Emotional eating is a thing, as is habitual eating. However, food addiction is also a huge problem, created by the food industry. Scientists argue whether sugar is addictive or not. Sarah Wilson, founder of I Quit Sugar, believes that if you take an eight week break from sugar, you stop sugar cravings.
The creators of processed foods engineer their products to make us want more. It’s a simple business model.
When your body digests dairy and gluten, it breaks them down into various properties, some – exorphins – resemble morphine. Exorphins bind to opioid receptors throughout the body. The opioid receptors are there for our naturally produced endorphins, which your body produces to reduce pain or push through challenges. Your body produces endorphins when you need them, but exorphins whenever you eat gluten or dairy. These opioids play a major role in food addiction and cravings.
The three phases of addiction relapse are emotional relapse, mental relapse and physical relapse. The first thought when I think of addiction is drugs, cigarettes, gambling and alcohol. Whether you believe yourself addicted to food or not, the three stages of addiction relapse might help you recognise when you’re moving onto a destructive path.
The first stage of addiction relapse is emotional relapse. For the person with an addiction, this happens when they stop self care practices. Maybe they stop exercising, meditating, taking time for a relaxing bath, moisturising, etc. We all have different self care practices, and when they stop happening, deliberately or not, there is a detrimental effect.
Sometimes self care practices stop at busy times of life. For example, over the Jubilee weekend, some people found themselves with extraordinarily busy weeks before and after due to the loss of two working days. The celebrations over the two days made it harder to eat a nutritious diet, and the shortening of time made preparations for self care practices challenging. When you stop your self care practices, you might enter the emotional relapse stage. Although difficult to recognise, you might stop feeling so good, and your body stops functioning so well.
Mental & Physical Relapse
Eventually, you tip into mental relapse. You begin to notice that you feel a bit rubbish. Although you probably don’t see the link between reduced self care and negative feelings. You might begin to beat yourself up. Suddenly, the thought of sabotaging your abstinence comes into your mind. Instead of getting back to the positive routine of self care practices to feel better, you consider using the substance you stopped to feel better. When you eat nice tasting food, it helps you feel better in the moment. However, afterwards you feel so much worse. There is a devil on your shoulder telling you to do it. It’s hard to fight it, the lack of self care leaves you feeling unworthy and unable. Physical relapse begins when you give in to the devil and use the substance / eat the food.
Of course, food addiction is different to substance addiction because you have to eat. The physical relapse happens, when you overeat or give up eating nutritionally and dive into destructive foods.
How can Therapy Help?
Therapy brings many benefits to unlocking emotional eating and food addiction. The act of prioritising yourself in this way is an act of self care. If you work with a hypnotherapist, before any hypnosis happens you have the opportunity to off load any emotional weight. Some people choose to see a therapist regularly, indefinitely, to empty the emotional backpack weighing them down. When you share the thoughts on your mind with someone qualified to listen, you process them in a healthy way. There are other ways to do this, such as journaling or working with a listening partner.
Hypnotherapy for emotional eating and food addiction will help you stick to your self care practices. Your hypnotherapist will help you with the discipline you need to start a new routine, which is easier to maintain once the habit is formed. Your hypnotherapist will help you feel disgusted by certain foods, so you can easily avoid them and break any addictions. If you work with someone knowledgeable about nutrition, they will increase your understanding of the foods your body does and doesn’t need.
The diet culture within our society confuses everyone. Some people recommend low fat foods – which often contain a lot of sugar – others recommend higher fat, lower sugar. Many people believe gluten free processed foods are healthy, despite their ingredients, and others think all vegans are the healthiest people. With so many ideas, many of us feel like we can’t eat anything, so we might as well eat everything. Your therapist will help you decide what is right for you, so you can stick to one path, shielded from the confusion of other people’s ideas.