THE BLOG

The One Thing You Must Know to End Emotional Eating for Good

02/05/2015 06:25 pm ET | Updated Apr 07, 2015

How many times have you sworn on everything you've ever owned that you would stop binging on the weekends, never have a dessert again, and this time, for real, end emotional eating for good?

I've probably promised myself that at least 900 times in my life.

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So why is it so hard to let go of emotional eating, even when we don't want to, we wish we wouldn't, and we know it's not serving us?

Because the hard truth and the one thing you need to know is this:

Putting down the food is hard.

Like really hard.

That's not to say it isn't possible. And it's not to say that it isn't worth putting in the effort.

It absolutely, positively, without a doubt, is worth it.

But it is hard at first. When you've used food as your coping mechanism for all of the things you don't know how to deal with, don't want to deal with, or can't imagine dealing with, it's your go-to way to cope with your emotions, your stressors, and your life.

Whether it's a conscious choice ("This ice cream is gonna make me feel so much better after my long day") or an unconscious choice ("My hand is already in the bag of Doritos before I even know what's going on"), it's still the same principle: we are using food to cope/handle/deal with our emotions.

So what happens when you put down the food?

You have to now deal with all of the things you stuffed down. When I first started this journey of trying to "eat normally," it shocked me how hard it was.

No one told me I would have to deal with intense, crazy emotions. No one mentioned I would be forced to sit in discomfort I desperately wanted to run away from. And no one told me there would be times when I would want to throw in the towel and just give up.

The thing that kept me coming back was that deep down, I knew I didn't want to use food and emotionally binge-eat anymore.

I wanted to learn how to cope with my emotions, to deal with stress, to face life without constantly feeling bloated, gross, disgusted with myself, and ashamed that come Friday night after work, I was already off my "perfect" workweek diet and binging on pizza.

It's not easy to sit in the painful feelings of a broken heart, when ice cream seems to smooth it all over.

It's hard as heck to be in the mundane, boring days of life when getting out that bag of Doritos would spice things up.

It's difficult to be uncomfortable at a party, where you don't know anyone and hate small talk, when getting plate after plate of food gives you something to do.

This journey isn't easy. At first it even seems impossible -- food seems easier than dealing with life.

But I'm here to tell you it gets easier.

When things got really tough for me, and I questioned whether or not I'd ever just "get over" my constant obsession with wanting to eat and be skinnier, I used to ask myself... "What is the alternative?"

Would I rather be back in that cycle of self-criticism, hating myself for overeating yet again, and feeling like eating normally was hopeless? The truth was that I wanted another way to live.

I didn't want to live my life like that. So, I kept at it. I got help. I found tools to help me cope. I picked myself up when I had a bad day (or week). And slowly, but surely, I kept moving forward.

And, so it can be with you. Hard doesn't mean it's not worth it. You grow and change when you give yourself permission to not know and to be uncomfortable.

You can stick with it and you can get through it, even when it's hard. Because sometimes, our biggest obstacles are what end up gently nudging us in the direction of the life we really want to live.

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