Eating can be enjoyable. It can distract us from our emotions. It can put us at ease when we are socializing. It can connect us to friends and family. Eating is also fuel for the day. It can give us the power we need to get through a workout, or a long day at work.
But, eating can also be a tool to avoid hard things. Our minds will justify eating as the best reason to postpone doing the work you should be engaged in. If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I’ll start the laundry.. but first, I need a snack”, you know what I mean. When this becomes your coping mechanism, and life gets more and more difficult, eating doesn’t just become a tool we use to avoid, it becomes the standard. And, the more you want to avoid in your life, the more likely this turns into full blown overeating.
Before you eat when you aren’t hungry, or keep eating when you are full, let there be a pause to ask yourself what you are avoiding in that situation. Some things that may come up for you include:
- Cleaning- when cleaning gets overwhelming, or you just don’t enjoy it, eating becomes more pleasurable and can give you permission to delay or postpone cleaning your house.
- Work assignments – Whether a work project is hard or boring, doesn’t seem to matter! This can be a huge problem if you work from home, with easy access to your favorite foods. Avoid tackling the inbox, by having a snack!
- Conversations – This can either look like a tough conversation, or even a phone call you’ve been meaning to place.
- Being bored – If you find yourself with nothing to do on a Sunday afternoon, food always brings entertainment!
- Struggling relationships – If a relationship with a teen or a spouse causes you to be uncomfortable, eating can be the perfect distraction.
- Making dinner – (or any task you don’t want to dive into!). Right when you get home from work, just tackle the dinner, before you start snacking first to avoid it.
- Your to-do list. If there are things on the list that feel like a chore, eating is a natural way to avoid it.
- Ending the meal! If you enjoy eating while browsing social media, watching Youtube, or reading a book, often, you don’t want it to end. It’s more comfortable and pleasurable to get more food if you want to keep indulging in the distractions of the day.
- Feeling hungry – May sound obvious, but if you just want to avoid feeling hungry, you eat! Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of hunger, but allowing yourself to get hungry is the first step in really facing what is making you uncomfortable!
If you can be aware enough to discover what you are avoiding, realize eating more food doesn’t make any of those things go away. They will still be there when you finish eating, except now, you’ve added the frustration of overeating to your problems. So, how can you be comfortable during the avoidance stage? Two ways. You can either do something even more enjoyable than what you are avoiding, or you can tackle that hard thing.
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