There is another component that is being left out here and one that is probably the strongest motivator of all. What I am talking about here are our emotions. These are what drive most of our behaviour and this means that in order for one to seek to change their appearance or health in the first place; ones emotions will have been involved.
The Hidden Motivators
However, the emotions that drive one to consume such large amounts of food, to eat when one isn’t hungry or to eat foods that are not particularly healthy; is rarely considered or mentioned. This could be in the mainstream media or in a more personal setting.
Perhaps emotions are not spoken of in the mainstream media due to the amount of money that is made from such high consumption and there are no doubt many other theories and ideas as to why this is. But, in order for this situation to exist in the first place; the need has to already exist in the consumer.
If one is a conscious individual or is even moderately conscious, then it wouldn’t matter what foods this person was exposed or how aesthetically pleasing to the eye they were. Although this could be cakes or snacks; this could also include any type of food and foods that one may have a certain craving for.
To be a conscious eater means that one has a choice as to whether they will eat or not. Instead of continually eating on impulse or when they are emotionally affected. And when one engages in emotional eating, they are usually doing so without being conscious and aware of what is occurring.
What Is Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating is when we eat in order to suppress and escape from a certain emotion or an emotional experience; with food changing how we feel. And because of how fast and natural this process often is, it is unlikely that it will be noticed or questioned - and therefore stopped or changed.
This may have been a pattern that one has carried out for so long, that it is has become a habit. And what the food is doing, is allowing one to emotionally regulate themselves.
A Closer Look
First off; emotional eating is probably something that everyone does from time to time. We are all human after all; we are not perfect and neither are we meant to be. The intention here is not to label emotional eating as right or wrong or good or bad; that is an approach that will only make things worse and would probably lead to more emotional eating.
It is purely to take closer look and to create awareness around this area. To bring to ones attention what is causing them to act in certain ways. Ultimately, emotional eating is no different to anything else, in that, if it is done to the extreme, it has the potential to lead to dysfunctional consequences. And with this being an area that related to our own healthy, it is undoubtedly an important area to look into.
A Special Relationship
As well as the effect that the food is having per se, there are associations that may also be triggered through food. In the very beginning of life, one comes to experience food as nurturing through being breast fed. And if one wasn’t breast fed, then one is likely to have fond memories of being given food to cheer them up and certain types of food that were made by someone close to them.
The quality of nurturing that one got in these early years will often define how much one will rely on food to assist in emotional regulation.
Through being given food by the people around us as a child, our emotional state was being externally affected. And if food wasn’t being used then our caregivers would have been there to mirror, sooth and regulate our emotions. We would also have been given the emotional nurturing that we needed to develop. As a young child, it is said that our nervous system is not developed enough to do this task and therefore we need our caregivers to do this for us.
And as a consequence of our caregivers being there during times of emotional distress or even when emotions appear, we will then begin to develop this ability ourselves. The process is a lot more complex than this, but this is a basic understanding of it.
The Real World
For some, the above may be true and these will be individuals that are comfortable with their emotions and who feel emotionally whole. They will have the ability to simply sit with them, to sooth themselves and to channel them into something more productive. Or they will be comfortable enough, to share their emotions with others. However, for individuals that haven’t had these early experiences of being emotionally regulated and nurtured; emotions will be problematic, overwhelming and even something to be ashamed off.
As ones emotions were allowed to build up and were not acknowledged when they were formed; they will be a lot stronger than they would normally be. And by this I mean that; as they are being fuelled by the past that has not been processed, it is inevitable that they will be stronger.
When this inner ability is not there, food is the ideal option. On one side it will allow one to regulate their emotions and on the other side it will allow one to temporarily have the emotionally nurturing that one didn't have as a child. The trouble with food is that it is only a short term solution. And the majority of food that is sought after during these times is unhealthy. Foods like chocolate, release endorphins into our brains, as does exercise. This is the happy chemical and will be more than welcome if one were to be experiencing ’negative’ emotions.
Exercise, if not taken to the extreme, is healthier than consuming lots of Junk food. While this is so, it could also become another escape and addiction.
The ideal here is to be able to self regulate and to feel comfortable in reaching out to others when this is not possible. This ability is unlikely to be developed over night and it will require patience and commitment. And depending on one’s individual needs and psychological disposition, other options might have to be considered. So always follow your own truth and insights.
One thing a good therapist, healer or coach can do is to allow one to express their emotions in a safe environment. From here, one can begin to form a relationship with their emotions. And start to gain the emotional nurturing that they didn’t get all those years ago. Here one will begin to see their emotions as feedback and as something that needs to be heard and acknowledged; not to be feared or run away from.
Awareness is the key here; with it, one can see that they are more than their emotions and without it; emotions can seem to be as all there is. The heart can also assist in emotional regulation.
This is not something that can be cited as having one cause, as there are often said to be numerous causes. These can be: genetics, diet, repression, chemical imbalance, abuse, illness, the environment and other factors.
And as we are all so different, it’s not a case of one cause being the same for everyone. So as this is such a complex area and not something that can be put into one box; I will cover one of the above aspects that can cause depression.
While depression is often treated as a taboo, emotions are not too far behind in this respect. They are generally ignored and this is partly due to a lack of understanding in how to deal with them. One is not simply born with emotionally intelligence; this is something that has to be learnt.
And when it comes to how one responds and perceives their emotions, the childhood years are typically the most important time. This time will often define what kind of relationship one will have with their emotions.
This relationship can be just like a relationship that one has with other human beings; it can be positive and empowering or it can be negative and distempering. So emotions can be seen as problems and as something that one needs to avoid or as feedback and as something that one needs to listen to.
One of the reasons this time is so important, is that one doesn’t usually learn about their emotions during their years of being in education. Certain areas are seen as vital, but emotional intelligence is a new thing.
This means that the early relationship that was formed with their emotions will generally be carried into their adult years. And it won’t matter if this relationship is healthy or unhealthy.
So coming back to this early relationship, there can be two ways that one can develop in order to cope with their emotions. And this will generally depend on how their caregivers responded to ones emotions as a child and to their own emotions.
Here, a child will develop the ability to regulate their emotions; this means that they will rarely act on them or deny that they exist and repress them. They will be able to just be with them, without getting too caught up in them. And if they become too overwhelming, the child will learn that it is safe to seek assistance in others.
In this case, the child will not develop the ability to regulate their emotions. This means that the child will have to either act on them or to deny and repress them. They won’t be able to just be with them and will end up being caught up in them. And during times of being overwhelmed, they are unlikely to feel safe asking for assistance.
Empathic and Unempathic
The first example will relate to a caregiver that is empathic and the second example is for a caregiver that is unempathic. An empathic caregiver is emotionally available and will generally mirror, match, hold and sooth their child during emotional distress.
And an unempathic caregiver will is likely to be emotional unviable. So this means that they generally won’t mirror, match, hold or sooth their child during emotional distress.
These are just general guidelines, as there is likely to be moments where it won’t be this black and white. However, this creates an idea about what it is like.
As a result of the above taking place, it is likely to lead to completely different consequences. If as a child, one learned to regulate their emotions through having an empathic caregiver; it is likely to mean that one will have a tendency to either regulate their emotions or to seek support in other people.
And if as a child, one didn’t learn how to regulate their emotions through having an unempathic caregiver; it is likely to mean that they will have a tendency of either repressing their emotions or of acting on them.
So the first child is rarely going to have to repress their emotions and this means that when this child grows into an adult, there shouldn’t be the need to repress them either.
But the second child, who has to repress their emotions, will likely grow into an adult that continues to repress their emotions. And this is inevitably gong to lead to an emotional build up in the body.
These emotions will have accumulated from when one was a child and all of the emotions that one has experienced as an adult, but denied and ignored.
Different Types Of Repression
For some people, this will involve certain moments as a child where they were abandoned, ignored, rejected, humiliated, felt hopeless, helpless, suicidal, guilty and ashamed for instance.
These can relate to the odd occasion or perhaps when one experienced these things on a daily or consistent basis. This can also include traumatic moments where one was: physically, emotionally or intellectually abused as a child.
And due to these moments taking place many years ago, they are generally blocked from the mind. But the body remembers these feelings and will not be silenced until they are recognised. This creates a heavy burden on the body and can result in a loss of energy.
In the beginning these may have only been emotions or feelings, but as time has gone on, they have become emotional states and have completely taken over. A bit like how one weed appears and soon after, the whole patch is covered in weeds.
So the fact that there were only one or two weeds to begin with is hard to comprehend and finding the original weeds or weeds can then be extremely difficult. Here one no longer feels one or two emotions, but has become emotionally trapped. And no longer experiences one or two emotions, but a general feeling of being overwhelmed or – depressed.
It could be that one has felt this way their whole life or that one felt this way after a certain experience. This could be the result of some kind of loss or traumatic occurrence that triggered emotions that have been trapped and frozen in the body for so long.
For the first person it may be experienced as normal and how life is, simply because they have never felt any different. And for the other person, it might not feel normal. This could be due to the fact that these feelings have been repressed for so many years and this has caused a disconnection to occur.
Perhaps one has recognised the connection between how they felt as a child and how they feel as adult or just that they need to be assisted emotionally. And this can be done through the help of a healer or a therapist that will allow one to feel and therefore release their emotions
This doesn’t mean that one will be forever caught up in them. If it is done right, it means that one will be able to let go of the emotions that have built up.