I think that often we wish emotions were controlled like a light switch that we can turn on or off. They can feel so overwhelming and hard to bear. However, a better and more realistic way of dealing with emotions – and particularly those that feel intense – is to think of having a dimmer switch: learning how to turn down the intensity of emotions so that they don’t overwhelm you (which is often the root cause of emotional eating, stress and other issues).
Science shows us that some foods can spark cravings that rival those of any abused drug or alcohol. The brain calls out for more of certain foods (typically sugar) and stopping feels impossible. Over-eaters may hear ‘Just don’t eat it, then!’, both from others and from themselves, more often than drug addicts or alcholics. Somehow, we understand the pull those drugs exert. Those who eat without struggle often can’t understand how someone simply can’t ‘each just one’. However, what we can do is recognise how to cope with and change the process of overeating: potential food triggers; learning to cope with emotions; allowing support from others; developing a healthy lifestyle; and being kind to yourself.
Stopping addictive habits is very hard and it’s important not to underestimate this. Ups and downs almost always occur. An attitude of self-forgiveness and reflection not only makes the process easier, but improves the likelihood of success. When you’re not busy tearing yourself down (and saying ‘why bother’), you have more energy for solving problems, picking yourself up and working towards what you want to achieve.