What’s Up with My Chronic Emotional Overeating?

Upset man holding his head in his hands

Clarifying Emotional Overeating

Before we begin, let’s just get two things straight:

1. All humans engage in emotional overeating. We often assume it’s a bad thing, but it’s a human thing. We eat emotionally when we’re celebrating someone’s birthday with cake. We’re not eating because we’re hungry for nourishment. We’re eating because we’re joining in a social pleasure. That’s emotional, social and perfectly good. So, don’t make harsh judgments about yourself, if food is used for emotional purposes. That’s literally how we started out in life. However, it can escalate into chronic emotional overeating or even binge eating, which can be problematic in our lives. Let’s work to differentiate the two.

2. Eating is not meant to be perfection. If we’re consumed by the compulsion to eat perfectly (whatever that means), then we’ve got problems. Food is there to both be pleasurable (most of us are sensory seeking beings) and also energy for our activities of daily life. Obsessing about our food (e.g. “Did I eat too much?”) is not serving us. It does nothing to give peace and ease or joy, but creates worry, stress and often more dieting . . . which can lead to chronic emotional overeating . . .


My Emotional Eating is Chronic and an Issue

So now that we have those two points out of the way, if thoughts of food and energy around your food is becoming your life and nothing else matters quite as much as the feeling that you need to reign yourself in, then something needs to change. The super tricky thing is that “reigning” ourselves in 99.99% of the time means dieting. The problem with dieting is that it can lead to chronic overeating, because we’re freakin’ hungry and have no sense of being satisfied with our diet food.


A Case of the Fuck Its

Many times, feeling deprived, ruled over, and managed in regard to food can lead people to “a case of the fuck its”. This means after feeling as though additional pressure is calling the shots in your life (i.e. the diet), the “fucks its” is the rebellion. The cycle typically looks like this: Go on a diet of some variety, followed by feeling of deprivation (sometimes coupled with feelings of superiority) and then give in to the “fuck its” and do some serious chronic emotional overeating or maybe even binge eating. Often people believe it’s their fault. I commonly hear how there’s no “willpower” or “self-control”. That’s not my take on things. You’re set up by the multi-billion dollar, never ending diet industry to put your trust in an external guide. The fix is really about trusting yourself and believing that you have the internal wisdom and ability to feed yourself.


How Does Therapy Fit In?

We explore early messages about food and behaviors around food. Every family has a food culture and what you were raised with is an important piece to understanding your groundwork. We discuss alternative ways to cope and engage with life that don’t involve defaulting to food as the soothing mechanism. You can read more in-depth about how we can work on this together in my specialty page.


If I’m peaking your interest about working on your relationship with food and body and the way it may be used in your life, call me. I’m happy to provide a free 15-minute consultation to discuss if I’m the therapist for you.

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Karin Lawson

2312 Wilton Drive, Suite 22
Wilton Manors, FL 33305