How Forgiveness Can Help Emotional Eating

What’s eating you? 

Emotional eaters tend to overeat to avoid being fully present with themselves and their unwanted feelings. If you struggle with emotional eating, you may be using food as an escape; an attempt to numb out certain feelings caused by unresolved conflict. Rather than “eating your feelings”, there are healthier and more effective approaches to address negative emotions. One way to do this is through forgiveness.

Studies have found that forgiveness can be very beneficial to your health from lowering the risk of heart attack to reducing levels of pain, anxiety and stress. When you don’t forgive, feelings of anger, resentment, rage, disappointment, blame or sadness linger inside you. Over time, these negative feelings cause chronic stress in the body and may drive you to emotionally eat. By making the conscious decision to forgive, you are letting go of these negative feelings. And when you release those negative feelings, you won’t feel the same strong urge to escape through food.


Learning to Forgive

Are you holding a grudge? Can you think of anyone you feel resentful towards? It could be a parent, partner, close friend, or even an entire group of people. The first step to forgiveness is to reflect and remember – what happened, how did it make you feel, how has it affected you since? You may have pushed past hurts down so far that it will take time for you to realize you are holding onto negative feelings.

Don’t rush this step – it can be a long process. Be patient and take the time to process any negative feelings that come up. If you’ve been deeply hurt by someone such as experiencing abuse, consider seeing a professional therapist who can guide you through this process. Only after taking the time to truly process your feelings, can you make the decision to forgive.


Try Forgiving with a Ritual

A ritual is easy to stick to and can help you come to terms with someone or something that has hurt you. Create your own ritual to help you move from anger (or sadness) to forgiveness. You may want to try writing a letter to the person expressing your hurt and anger. After you’re done, throw it out, rip it up, or burn it. Then, write another letter to the person expressing your forgiveness and the reasons why you’ve made this decision.

Whether it’s a misunderstanding with a co-worker or a long-held resentment towards a family member, unresolved conflict can affect you much deeper than you may realize. Following a ritual in practicing forgiveness can make forgiveness a more natural trait over time. Can you think of a ritual that will work for you? 


Remember to Forgive Yourself!

While it is important to forgive others, it’s just as important to forgive yourself. Oftentimes, we’re hardest on and most critical of ourselves. Most of us find it challenging to love ourselves unconditionally; set an intention to forgive yourself for any mistakes you have made or imperfections you think you have. You’re human and you’re allowed to make mistakes – we all do!

If you’re feeling resistant to the idea of forgiveness, consider the act of forgiveness as self-care. While holding a grudge and harboring negative emotions may seem easier, it may be the root cause of your emotional eating. Holding onto those negative feelings is actually harming you. So consider releasing those negative feelings by practicing forgiveness!

Forgiveness will release negative emotions and comfort you in a way that food never will.