Principle #7 of Intuitive Eating: Cope with your Emotions with Kindness. A very normal role that food plays is providing us with comfort. When we are born into this totally new, different, stimulating world, we seek comfort from the boob (that milky goodness ) within moments of our entering into this world. The time I’ve been able to spend with my big sister & niece, Iluca, over the past year has allowed me to see from the very moment we are born, how we seek comfort from food. Somewhere along the way, diet culture has demonized this very normal role that food plays & this has resulted in us feeling guilty for partaking in an intuitive role that food has played for us, since birth.
Things can get hard when turning to food is our only way of coping & soothing. Sometimes food can feel like our only friend when it feels like there is no one else there to support us. Please know that you’re doing the best you can with the resources and tools that you have. I work within this principle of IE with clients a lot, and 1 thing I get people to do is build an emotional toolbox. Maybe right now, food is the only thing in your emotional toolbox to help you cope. But what else helps you soothe and cope? For example, in my emotional toolbox, there is: Hugging my dog, taking a walk on the beach, listening to my favourite music, cooking a new recipe, writing my feelings and thoughts out on paper, eating food I like and feel like at the time, talking to someone I feel comfortable with about how I am feeling, watching a funny movie, pulling out my tarot cards, reaching out for support from a Mental Health Professional (such as a counsellor, Psychologist), moving my body in ways that feel right at the time. Notice how food is in there? It’s just not my only way of coping and soothing. When you’re having a challenging time, pull out your emotional toolbox and pick the one which you feel will bring you the comfort and support you are seeking and in need of at that time. You might be interested to find it’s different each time! You might also need some individual support with finding ways to cope other than solely using food, so reach out if that’s the case.
This topic is also very nuanced, as emotional eating is a term I hear people using to describe their situation really often, however upon further investigation, it becomes evident that there is backlash eating as a result deprivation and restriction throughout the day (i.e. not getting enough to eat in general & / or backlash effects of psychological restriction around certain foods / denial of certain foods one derives pleasure from).
So sometimes people perceive they are emotional eating, when in actual fact, they just aren’t getting enough to eat to meet their bodies needs and end up knee deep in the pantry as a result of the body urgently trying to get a basic need met (enough food!). This is biological. You can’t outsmart your biology.
Principle 7 explores building and fostering some individual coping strategies that don’t involve food, while absolutely recognising that food can provide us comfort & this is a beautiful role food plays for us
The Intuitive Dietitian xx