Confession time: I used to be a stress eater—until I did some research as to why—then lost 20 pounds in about 3 months and kept the weight off for 3 years and counting.
One of the interesting insights I found: Often overeating is a way to punish yourself for the anger and resentment you’re feeling— either at yourself or someone else.
In fact, there’s been a lot of research which supports how anger is at the root of many addictions— as far ranging as food, drug, alcohol and shopping addictions. Addicts seek these vices to avoid feeling the pain of past resentments. Their anger becomes a boomerang—or what I call a “boomeranger”—because their unwanted negative emotions come back to whack them with an addiction.
The University of Wisconsin did a recent research study, comparing “Forgiveness Therapy” to routine traditional drug/alcohol therapy. They showed that Forgiveness Therapy helped to relieve the anger behind substance abuse even more successfully than traditional drug/alcohol therapy. Plus, not only did subjects display faster success, they created less recidivism. Meaning? They didn’t return to their addictions! They stayed addiction-free!
In other words, I realized that whenever I was pigging out on a big bag of Cheese Doodles, I was really pigging out on a bag of “I Hate Me Doodles” or a bag of “I Hate That This Challenge/Adversity/Rejection Has Happened To Me Doodles.”
I recognized that I needed to retrain my brain to stop eating like I wanted to punish myself— or punish someone else. I needed to relearn how to eat like I loved myself, and want to nourish and support myself.
As soon as I developed healthier ways to deal with my anger, regret, resentment, worry—sure enough, I released the pull I felt towards food.
Presently it’s now instinctual for me to choose to eat like I love myself instead of eating like I wanted to punish myself. Plus I’ve not only lost weight, I’ve lost the anger and anxiety I was feeling. I feel happier and calmer within.
Can you relate to any of this? Even if you’re not overeating specifically as “punishment,” chances are you’re doing it to avoid being fully present with yourself—and your unwanted feelings.
Although you might think you’re overeating for fun entertainment—or as an attempt to comfort yourself—there are healthier ways to have fun and get comforted.
Chances are you’re using overeating as a way to escape yourself. It’s an attempt not to feel or think about what you really need to feel and face.
You’re in “fight and flight mode.” Or what I jokingly call “flight and bite.”
Basically, overeating is about avoiding a needed, loving conversation with yourself—and thereby avoiding honoring your truest feelings and truest thoughts.
If you want to live your happiest life—true to who you are, true to what you need—then you have to stop pigging out and start listening up!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hi, I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of the popular inspiration site NotSalmon.com and best selling author with over 1 million books sold – and over 1.3 million fans on Facebook. Some of my books you might know: Prince Harming Syndrome, How To Be Happy Dammit, Think Happy and The Bounce Back Book. I’m also the founder of THE DO IT PROGRAM – a revolutionary digital course which helps people to stop emotional eating and over-eating with research-proven tools like NLP Programming. My mission is to offer easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower people to bloom into their happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology – and then some. You can check out more of my essays here!