Why Emotional Eating Is Rational


If my life were a movie, last night would have been an episode entitled, Attack of the Mosquitos. Biscuit and I were swarmed on our evening walk. I counted 21 little red welts on my arms, neck, ears, and even my toes. I get quarter-sized welts from mosquito bites.

Needless to say, I went crazy with itching and scratching.

If scratching were something that would cause a person to gain weight, I still wouldn’t be able to stop doing it. (As I type this I realize I’ve been scratching the itch on my collarbone mindlessly.)

I bet since the beginning of womankind people have scratched their itches. Itching is a universal human condition. When it happens, scratching is our first impulse. We can’t help ourselves. It’s rational.

We know what scratching does for us when we are itchy.

It relieves the itch.

It eases our distress.

It actually can feel really satisfying when the itch goes away.

If my life were a movie, last night could also have been entitled, Attack of the Munchies. My husband and I were talking about something sad and stressful, and I wanted to talk about it a lot more than he did. In fact, he decided to go to bed early and there I sat, alone and emotional.

Needless to say, I went crazy with feeling sad and eating chocolate. I did so mindlessly. Of course, sadness is a universal human condition. And seeking relief is rational.

Emotional eating relieves the sadness.

It eases our distress.

It can feel really satisfying when the sadness goes away.

Here’s the problem, as you know all too well. Emotional eating can sabotage our bariatric surgery. So, while it works and it’s rational, it’s important to find other ways to help ease our emotional discomfort.

The best way to find out what to do instead of eating emotionally is to experiment to find what works for you.

Consider these experiments:

Try putting on touching music and honor your sadness by allowing yourself to cry for a little while. (When I was going through cancer treatment I had a playlist of songs that helped me cry and heal.)

Feed your other senses. Touch something soothing; step outside or open a window and listen to the sounds of nature or the hustle and bustle on the streets; cover yourself with a weighted blanket that will help you feel grounded.

Lessen the damage of emotional eating by choosing things that will not cause significant weight gain, but still bring you a little relief. I experimented to find the darkest chocolate I can tolerate. It’s so dark I don’t binge on it, but it checks off the box emotionally. Roasted vegetables are my favorite choice, however – even more than the chocolate. I know that because I experimented.

When you experiment, you automatically move your eating from mindless to intentional. And that can make a big difference.

Let me know what experiments you make – and how they worked out for you.

Experimenting is rational.