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Eating over emotions

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Eating over emotions

Penny Younger

A few weeks ago, I was at a dinner party. There were people there who I’m quite close with, and I was enjoying myself.

Before we all sat down to eat, I was outside getting something from my car, when one of the girls came outside straight after me to take a phone call.

When she was finished, we started chatting. I see her all the time, but we don’t often chat one on one, so it was lovely to connect with her by herself. We talked about a range of things, and I ended up telling her a bit more about myself than I’d anticipated.

You know those conversations that start at how the weather is, and somehow they end up in the territory of a deep and meaningful?

It was one of those.

I told her about some things going on for me right now and she did the same and when we finished the conversation, we walked inside to have dinner.

Thing is, as soon as I sat down to eat, I felt this nervous energy lightly pulsating through my system. I’d been quite vulnerable with her, telling her how I felt about certain things in my life and sharing information that was quite personal to me at the time. It was such a lovely chat, but upon sitting down, I started questioning everything I’d just told her.

I started to feel a bit unsure of myself, I felt a little too exposed and I questioned if I’d explained myself right.

So, what did I do? I ate over the top of that discomfort.

I ate over the top of ‘god I hope she understood what I meant.’

I ate on top of ‘that was really scary, being that vulnerable just then.’

I ate on top of ‘I hope I was accepted, in that conversation, and not quietly judged.’

I ate on top of ‘I hope she liked me – the me that I actually just revealed, and not the masked me that I kick around in some of the time.’

What we chatted about, was a topic that is testing me in life right now, one that I feel a little uneasy about within myself, so voicing it felt a little ‘blah.’

So, instead of breathing that discomfort in after I noticed it; instead of allowing it to settle and allowing it to be there, I cruised past it, ignored it and ate over the top of it.

It’s no wonder then that my “I’m full now” gage switched to an “I don’t feel okay yet” gage, and so I ate way too much.

I wasn’t purposely stuffing my face, I just felt like I was still hungry, but in reality, I was just still feeling nervous and vulnerable, and so I ate until that feeling subsided. Until I felt ‘full.’

On a side note, this has nothing to do with binge eating, or an eating disorder of any kind – in full transparency I’ve never been affected by one – this is however, a matter of emotional eating; something we all do whether we are aware of it or not.

Food can be such a trigger for so many people; we eat when we’re happy, when we’re sad, when we’re bored or when we’re (you guessed it) feeling something we’d rather numb out, or, eat over. I do all of the above, probably more times than I even realise.

This was a classic example of me not stopping to sit with a feeling, and hoping that a feast of Mexican would fix it (doesn’t it always?).

When I got home, I literally couldn’t sleep because I was so full – and it was then I realised my ‘full’ barometer had actually been my ‘I still feel shitty’ barometer that night.

Next time that I sit down to a dinner, and I notice an uncomfortable feeling like this; I’ve promised myself that I’ll excuse myself, go to the bathroom and just feel into the feeling for a minute or two. I’ll let it be there, I’ll breathe into it and I’ll acknowledge it.

Like us, all our feelings want, is to be acknowledged.

Then, once I’ve given it the minute or two’s attention it wants – I’ll be able to go back out to my friends, raise my wine glass with them and eat until I’m actually full.