ASK COLETTE: How to Stop Emotional Eating

Looking for intuitive guidance about love, finding a new purpose, managing stress or connecting with your own sense of spirituality — or maybe you just want to be a tad naughty and chat about sex? Zoomer guru Colette Baron-Reid invites you bring your deepest heartfelt questions to Ask Colette.

Here, Colette talks about how to stop emotional eating.

Dear Colette,

I am an emotional eater, but I am not the kind who pulls out the bag of chips or chocolate cake with friends. I always overeat when I am alone.  I don’t binge or purge but after I eat the foods that make me feel good, I am so ashamed of my lack of discipline and my inability to stop myself.  I don’t feel like I can talk to my friends about it because I don’t want them to think less of me. I also don’t want to burden them with my problems or be a downer.  I just don’t know how to come clean to myself.  —Closet Emotional Eater

Dear Closet Emotional Eater.

You are out of the closet now and you should stay there!  Don’t be ashamed of yourself or your patterns with food.  You are not abnormal, you are not less than (your friends or anyone else) and you are definitely not alone.

My guess is you are someone who cares a great deal for other people and often takes on their concerns and emotions without even knowing it. That is a good trait in a friend – as a friend to others but not as a friend to yourself.

There are a couple of things going on here: (1) you feel more than is yours to carry, and (2) you have eating patterns that are tied to your emotions.  What I mean is we people who feel too much have lots of shame about eating because our eating patterns are tied up with our emotional patterns, and we’re ashamed of our inability to control our empathy overload and porous boundaries when it seems everyone else can do it.

We compare ourselves to others and think there’s something wrong with us, that we’re somehow damaged. We eat to ground ourselves and carry great shame about that, so we hide the eating. At the same time, many of us hide what we’re eating in order to be sure that no one takes our food away from us.

Although you mentioned your “inability to stop yourself” in your question, I suspect you may have internalized messages about shame and control.  Think about the source of those messages. What things, events or people caused you to feel unsafe and insecure?

Many of us find that food makes us feel safe, then robs us of the very security we think it can offer us. We lose our sense of power over our choices, then revert to using food as comfort and protection. Then the weight piles on and the self-worth goes down.

Feeling safe in your own skin is important. Feeling that you have the power to set boundaries, and not be swallowed up in intimate situations, and to make healthy choices is tantamount to healthy self-esteem. It’s important to know that safety is a state of mind. You can learn how to feel secure and practice feeling that way until it becomes second nature. I share a really powerful IN-Vizion® process called Discover Your Inner Sanctuary in my book, Weight Loss for People Who Feel Too Much. I encourage you to find ways of finding safety and peace for yourself and know that it will get better with practice.

I look forward to hearing about your progress and please keep me posted if you encounter any obstacles.

Love and blessings,
Colette Baron-Reid
Intuitive Counselor


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