Are you waiting for a “lightbulb moment” to catapult you out of emotional eating once and for all? This came up recently in the Normal Eating Support Group. It’s a very common attitude, but not one that gets you where you want to go. This is the same thinking that brings you, “I’ll start my diet on Monday” (or the first of the month or whenever) “and then everything will be different.”
It would be great if life problems could evaporate in one shining moment of insight and resolution. People long to suddenly “get it” and float on a cloud above all the mess. But this is not how people change, and waiting for it is a trap that can keep you stuck.
Emotional eaters tend to be black-and-white thinkers – either they’re being good or they’re being bad. Either their eating is perfect, or they may as well eat everything in sight and then try for perfection again on Monday.
Perfection may sound like a high and noble ideal, but what’s really going on here is that people want change to be painless. They want a lightning bolt of insight so they can stop emotional eating without the discomfort that inevitably accompanies personal growth.
As I say in the chapter on Stage 3 in Normal Eating for Normal Weight, “There is no way to stop emotional eating without discomfort. Expect it – brace yourself for it.” The discomfort doesn’t last forever, but it’s unavoidable. If you are waiting for the day when a lightbulb moment will make it easy to stop emotional eating, then you will wait forever.
Personal growth isn’t neat and clean – a moment of insight and then poof, you’re fixed. It’s a messy process that happens a moment at a time. Every time you pause before acting on an urge to eat when not hungry, you are experiencing a moment of recovery. Keep practicing and working at it, and the moments will become longer and more frequent until the moments of recovery outnumber the moments of being “in the food”. That’s how real change happens.
If this were an easy problem to solve, no one would have it! It is solvable, though. You just have to be willing to do the work. Be realistic about your goals and expectations. Make them small and do-able, and you will progress.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them.