Is Your Emotional Eating Actually Emotional? (It May Be Physical)

It’s 10am, and breakfast was only a few hours ago.

But already those chocolate biscuits are calling your name.

You’ve probably had a busy (or boring) morning. Chances are you’ve had some sort of interaction with your kids, boss, colleagues or another parent. If it wasn’t a flesh and blood human, it’s likely you’ve interacted with social media or the voices in your head telling you how much you have to do today … how useless you are, or any number of conversations that may have lead you to feel crap.

We’ve all been there, and we’ve all heard the call of the comfort food.

But what if I were to tell you that those emotional food cravings, whether they be at 10am, 3pm or after dinner weren’t actually emotional at all.

Now, I’m not 100% saying that they’re not (they could be), but once you start to understand where emotions come from, you might think differently about where your food desires come from.

I thought I had developed Binge Eating Disorder And Emotionally Eating Again.

Yep, true story.

Early in 2015 I found myself eating ALL of the puddings on the planet, with my favourites being chocolate self-saucing and mug cakes.

By the way have you ever tried a mug cake … life becomes dangerous once you realize you can make a cake, in a cup, in under 3 minutes.

I was slamming down the mochas and at some point I was asking myself, what the hell was happening. I was eating exactly like I was back when my stress levels were insane and I hated myself.

Last year, I really did think I was going insane again. I was crying every day and had crazy anxiety and panic. I even went to the doc for medication.

It was really weird to have come so far with my own emotional and mental healing to be knocked down again, I honestly believed I was having a major B.E.D relapse, but had no idea why, nothing bad had happened.

That’s because it wasn’t truly emotional.

It was physical.

I didn’t realize it, but I had Glandular Fever all year. Here we are 2016 and the virus has settled down, as have my emotions and my eating. And before you say “well life probably changed” … nope, I’m still in the same position as I was 6 months ago financially, relationship, environment … everything.

The physical state changed and that was what changed the emotional.

You Can’t Think Your Way Out Of Some Things.

Research shows us very clearly that we have a gut-brain axis and the state of the gut is a major influence on the state of the brain.

In the Journal of Schizophrenia Research a 2012 study found that gastrointestinal inflammation is relevant to this particular mental illness. The researchers state:

“Immune factors are implicated in normal brain development and in brain disorder pathogenesis”

That means the immune system can influence the brain and anything that affects the immune system can be the cause – including food intolerances, poor sleep, toxins, viruses and so on.

Now, I know we’re not talking about serious mental illness here, but what this research demonstrates is that a person’s way of thinking can be highly influenced by the physical state of the body.

The EBV Virus (Glandular Fever), along with some other viruses has in fact been reported to trigger depression and anxiety. 

Think back to the last time you had the flu or illness – were you super happy? 

Of course not.

Motivational Memes, Self-Love And Psychology Will Only Go So Far.

You have a second brain inside your gut. It’s called the enteric nervous system. Enteric means related to the intestine, you have serotonin and dopamine in your gut – in fact, you have more in your gut than you do in your brain. And the majority of your immune system is in your gut.

You have vitamins and minerals swirling in and out of your cells helping your body produce these good mood chemicals.

Your liver helps to deliver nutrients to the body.

In other words, there are physical processes happening which produce emotions.

You can physically produce good emotions or you can physically produce bad ones.

You might be dealing with an emotional issue, but then again you might just be unhealthy.

The only way you’re going to know is to think holistically and rationally.

Ask yourself five questions:

  1. Has an event occurred that would trigger me? (divorce, breakup, trauma etc) in other words, is there something that would really make the brain go “Holy shit”. Or a precursor to this, are you in an unhappy relationship, job, etc?
  2. Are you actually living your life? What I mean is, are you trying to live up to someone else’s expectations or are you just living life waiting to die without doing what you really want to do?
  3. Are you stressed out? Either at work, home or in your own self?
  4. Are you really giving your body what it needs?
  5. How is your health in general? Are you bloated, poor skin, low energy, moody in general, headaches, PMT, trouble sleeping etc? 

Number five is the most important. 

You are a holistic systemic being. You are an entire system of cells, nerves, minerals etc. They all communicate, and that communication doesn’t only happen from the neck down. Physical symptoms are not normal, no matter how common it is or how long you’ve had it. What is being experienced physically is likely to be experienced mentally/emotionally either directly or indirectly.

Yes your emotional state will also affect your physical state. You can think yourself unwell – a topic for another day.

So the next time you give into an emotional craving use that as a cue to ask yourself if you’re looking after your physical state as well as you could be or if there is something your physical body is trying to ask of you.

And always seek help to get the clarity you need, I’ll be the first to admit, this topic is a real doozy to get your head around!