For people dealing with excess weight issues, the connection between food and emotions is very familiar. The thin and good looking woman sitting in her room consoling herself with ice-cream after having gone through significant emotional upset has become a symbol that demonstrates how we substitute dealing with emotions for food.

"Emotional eating" is eating that is intended to blur or compensate for unpleasant emotions. It is not related to physiological hunger. It is a manipulation that seeks to satisfy emotional needs by substituting emotional gratification with food.

For example: when you feel sad, you may want someone to be there for you. Substituting a hug for a hot chocolate Sunday or a piece of cheese cake is considered emotional eating. Instead of asking for a hug or going up and hugging someone, you find yourself in the refrigerator hoping that a chocolate mousse will quiet your need for hug. This mechanism fails time and time again.

People who eat to blur emotions range in their ability to confront of the correlation between food and feelings By monitoring situations that cause excess eating, especially of foods rich in sugar many emotional triggers are revealed.
"I eat mainly when I'm upset". When I'm worried about financial problems, eating quiets my mind" "I have a cupboard with munchies for times when I feel lonely and sorry for myself". These are just a fraction of the statements recorded by people who deal with "emotional eating".

In societies that encourage emotional repression instead of teaching healthy means for emotional expression many people lack resourceful emotional skills. Unfortunately, they pay the price of withholding their feelings which implies many excess kilograms.

Emotions give life its flavor. Without feelings, life would be pointless. emotions are the base for subjectivity and are the base for friendship, interaction and communication.
At their fundamental level, emotions lack intrinsic positivity of negativity. They are categorized as such only when attributed specific meaning and context. Emotions can be positive or negative to the same degree, depending on the significance they are attributed.

For example: love is considered a positive emotion. However, if love is not reciprocated, it can become an extremely unpleasant experience, defined by many as negative.

Once we regard emotions as negative we do our best to avoid them. Avoidance can be achieved by repression or other distractions, one of them being food.

In practicality, emotions tell us a lot about ourselves. In that context they always serve us. Emotions guide us to what is resourceful or not for us and helps us differentiate between things we should embrace or disregard.

Avoiding emotions causes the nervous system to shut down. It undermines our ability to know what is right for us, therefore undermines our ability to act in beneficial ways.
Suppressed emotions don’t go away but rather fester. They accumulate within the body's anatomical structures and interfere with its normal functioning. Ensuring that they stay repressed requires energy that could be utilized for health-supporting functions. If these disadvantages are not enough, they continue to rule your life because they subliminally determine many of your behavior patterns and emotional responses.

Emotional eating is an unhealthy dealing mechanism which promotes the delusion that emotions can be "pushed down the digestive tract". As emotional intensity increases, repressive mechanisms need to be all the more forceful, to ensure restraint. For emotional eaters this means that they need to eat larger quantities of food.

For those who are in the habit of repressing their emotions with food confronting emotions may seem like a mission impossible. The bright side is that these skills can be mastered, much easier than expected. Integrating healthy emotional patterns is equivalent to breaking the chains of slavery not only of excess eating. It awakens and brings forth who you really are as a person. These abilities can significantly change your entire reality.

The only way to eliminate emotional eating is to master healthy methods of dealing with emotions. Emotions must be managed not allowed to manage you.

Following are few suggestions to start improving your relationship with food:
1.Identify situations where your eating is emotionally triggered.
2.Identify the specific emotions that are causing excess eating.
3.When you feel an emotional need, identify and verbalize it.
For example: I need love, someone to put my head on their shoulders, someone to hold me, somebody to listen to me, etc.
4. Make a plan that proposes ways of expressing emotions that don’t involve food. This provides you with a resource of alternatives to eating.
Examples: go see a friend, take the dog for a walk, clean your house, read a book etc.
5. Move out of the situation by initiating action: do something to counteract the desire to eat. Once you are focused on the alternative activity, you will forget the desire to eat.

Author's Bio: 

Joan Jacobs is a holistic healer with 25 years experience as clinical healer, educator, speaker and author.Joan teaches at the Faculty of Health Sciences, the Leo and Matilda Recanati school of community health professions at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, and has held senior teaching and program directing positions at leading schools of complementary medicine in Israel. She teaches certification programs for Bach Flower practitioners and holistic healers and has personally trained numerous clinical practitioners. Joan developed and instructed a Holistic back-to-life program for breast cancer survivors at the breast health center of the Soroka University Medical Center, Beer Sheva, Israel. In 2010 she created an international healing and personal transformation workshop program called The Light Within and published her first book titled Messages from the Soul- A Holistic Approach To Healing."The Light Within- Awakening The Inner Healer" Radio Talk Show she hosts airs every Mon 10AM PST on Variety Channel.