Since the phrase “emotional eating” entered the lexicon in the 1980s, diet culture has been exploiting it. Our diet-obsessed society equates hunger with feelings, and we are taught to resist, suppress, and stigmatize it accordingly.
While deep emotional wounds are certainly at the heart of some eating disorders, “emotional eating” should not be automatically assumed as a catchall to explain away all food issues. What if your emotions are not the cause, but the result? Are you binge eating because you’re depressed, or are you depressed because you can’t stop binge eating?
If you are struggling with your relationship with food, you owe yourself a thorough self-assessment to untangle the roots of your food issues. Don’t take diet culture’s word for it.
So let’s ask the big question: Do you seek comfort in food? Perhaps. But think about what “comfort” means and feels like. It’s the freedom to let down your walls and relax and be vulnerable. It’s freedom from constraint. If you’ve spent weeks, months, years, feeling like a criminal when you eat food, it would be an immense comfort to stop fighting that fight for a little while. It makes perfect sense that you would seek exactly that sort of comfort when you are sad and overwhelmed, or joyful and celebrating.
In a moment like this, seeking a sense of comfort, you might reach for a favorite food: maybe a pack of Oreos, a bag of chips. “I’ll just enjoy a few,” you think. “I’ve been so good…I’ve earned it.” The first few bites are like reuniting with an old friend, but it isn’t long before you start to realize: you can’t stop. Your jaw is on fire. Your stomach feels like it might literally explode. What may have started as some sort of “emotional eating” has evolved into something far scarier. This is the opposite of comfort. You can’t stop, and you just don’t know why.
I know why. I’ve been there. Diets have robbed your body of its innate ability to recognize fullness. It thinks you’re starving. And that’s when you know you’re dealing with something more concrete than just emotional eating. If you find yourself eating to the point of actual physical pain, don’t blame your emotions. Blame diets, and blame diet culture.
With the magic of the six-month reset, you never have to give diet culture another second of your time. Eating freely will allow your hormones to regain their natural balance while freeing your mind of the psychological deprivation that gives foods that irresistible allure.
I get that eating whatever you want sounds straight-up nuts, but try thinking of it this way: You know that awesome feeling when you don’t have to set an alarm on vacation? A six-month reset is like living in that feeling. You get to be rules-free for once. You might sleep in a little, or a lot, but when your body has had enough sleep, it will wake you up. You will not sleep indefinitely. Your body will tell you when it wants to stop. Sometimes, it turns out that your body isn’t in the mood, and you’ll wake up at your usual time. Who knows! All you have to do is listen to your body — no more alarms.