Of course emotional eating is a problem -- for me, and for about 99% of the people who inhabit my world. No way this is a topic (like drinking, like travelling) that isn't key. Caught myself last week after a stressful day walking in the door, pouring a handful of tropical trail mix into my palm, scarfing it back standing up -- and put a stop to it after about 1/2 ounce. Yay me. Tracked it. Kept within calorie range for the day. But still . . . surprised myself.
Now Beck says that people without a weight problem don't think about eating to feel better. But I don't think that's altogether so.
Because (as I pointed out in my 2011 blog on this topic) Beck addresses emotional eating only from the perspective of negative emotions such as I was experiencing when I sought the trail mix solace: eating to deal with anger, fear, depression or even boredom.
But eating is aggressively promoted in our society to deal with positive emotion too: celebration, joy, happiness of all kinds and descriptions. Overeating is even promoted with the promise that food can actually manufacture positive emotion: in the guise of self-indulgence, luxury, treating our kids . . .
What seemed to me to be important in 2011, missing from Beck's account, and still significant is the way food is used like a psychotropic drug, Like Prozac, to subdue depression. And like cocaine, to engender some sort of manic high.
Because authentic emotion, my own emotion arising from my own life as I'm living it, tells me something: whether good or bad. Emotion tells me I need to be paying attention.
Exploring distress if that's what I'm feeling: identifying its source, determining whether I can deal with it or whether it's an "oh well", to be accepted without necessarily liking it.
But equally, exploring joy when that happens without chocolate cake makes me feel joy more intensely. Helps me acknowledge its evanescence more consciously. Even store joy's power in my body. To increase my resilience and flexibility and gratitude when felicity is absent for awhile. As it can be. For quite awhile, actually . . . since that's life.
So I want to eliminate emotional eating as a response to negative emotion. Because it doesn't work. And equally, I want to eliminate emotional eating as a response to the good times, as well. Because eating too much dulls the experience of joy, reduces its power.
Better to store joy than fat? Yeah. Absolutely.