Isn't it amazing how foods can provide comfort, evoke memories, or transport you to a different time or place? I love how certain foods can give both nourishment and a hug from the inside.
When I was a kid, my grandma used to make me tiny peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on cracker. She usually used Saltines, but I don't really keep Saltines around. I happened to have some Ritz crackers, and decided to share some cracker PBJs with my kid while we played a game.
It was a cool little teleport back to being a kid and hanging out with my grandma.
Emotional eating has been really unfairly villainized in recent years by, who else?, diet culture. Diet culture is obsessed with ending emotional eating so that you can lose weight. There are weight loss coaches all over the place offering programs to conquer emotional eating, or get your emotional eating under control.
In reality, emotional eating can be a healthy coping tool. I generally coach my clients on having an array of coping tools, of which eating comforting foods can be one. We also work on using mindfulness to be more aware and tuned in while eating for emotional reasons.
It's important to note that binge eating is different from emotional eating. I generally define emotional eating as any eating that is motivated by emotions and not physiological hunger. Binge eating is (as defined in the DSM 5) "characterized by both of the following:
Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances
The sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)"
If you're not sure whether you're struggling with binge eating or emotional eating, it may be beneficial to consult with a qualified specialist.
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