Posted by Steps to Recovery on December 10, 2012

Deciding to choose recovery over an addiction is a really difficult thing. It takes a lot…Mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally. Recovery is a very emotional process, a time when the person choosing to step away from an addiction has to make many changes in their lives in addition to not using drugs and alcohol. It is so easy to slip away from one addiction and into another to comfort oneself. A good example of this is comfort eating.

Comfort eating is also known as emotional eating or feeding your feelings. When people eat because of their emotions instead of to actually nourish their body, this is comfort eating. It is believed to be the main reason why people overeat and is one of the main driving forces behind obesity. People develop an association between food and comfort, perhaps as children when given a cookie, candy or some other junk food as a treat when they get hurt or for some other unpleasant thing, so they continue to engage in the behavior as a way to deal with uncomfortable emotions even as adults. Some of the most common triggers for comfort eating include: Loneliness, anger, depression, stress, anger, relationship problems, boredom, frustration, difficult or uncomfortable situations and negativity of fear of failure.

People who are in recovery are especially at risk of turning to food to comfort themselves. Recovery is an emotional whirlwind full of ups and downs and many triggers. It is easy to rationalize comfort eating, because it’s not using the alcohol or drugs and eating is completely socially acceptable. But eating to fill the emotional gap is not harmless. It causes people to become overweight and unhealthy. Many people who eat for this reason don’t eat the healthiest things. It can be damaging to self esteem if the person begins to have weight problems. And it’s replacing one addiction with another..Just another way to avoid problems that need to be faced and resolved.

The best thing to do is to avoid getting sucked into eating for emotional reasons. Develop healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with what’s going on with you. Talk to other people about how you are feeling and what’s coming up. Get to the root of your discomfort, really take an honest look at what’s triggering you and work on it. When you eat, do it mindfully. I find it helpful to ask myself, “Am I really hungry right now, or am I eating for some other reason?” when I decide that I am going to get some food between meals. Especially if I am craving something, and even more so if it’s something really unhealthy that I know I shouldn’t be eating. During meals, I try to remember to eat slowly and think about whether I am hungry anymore or not. I want to eat to nourish my body, not to fill some other void. Don’t allow one addiction to replace another. Sometimes it’s hard to admit, but food and eating habits can be just as dangerous as drugs and alcohol.

What do you do to make sure you are not eating to feed your emotions?