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What Does Love Have to Do with Binge Eating?


Many of the people I've treated struggling with binge eating have shared the same emotional eating trigger—love. Or, to be more precise, a perceived lack of love. Lack of love from those nearest and dearest to them (described as feeling unappreciated or undervalued); lack of love from those they wish would notice them (described as feeling unattractive or invisible); and perhaps the most painful and damaging of all—lack of love towards themselves (described as low self-esteem and self-loathing).

Where love is concerned, we human beings are particularly vulnerable. We experience profound joy, connectedness and security when we feel loved; and we experience immense sadness, hopelessness and even despair, when we don't.

Interestingly, it also seems that eating is the furthest thing from our minds when we are in love or feeling loved, compared to our tendency to want to dive into comfort food whenever we break up with a partner, or feel the absence of love.

Yes, the link between food and love runs very deep. It's our mother's milk that acts as both our first source of nutrition and our first source of comfort and security.

The problem we've uncovered here, then, is that many of us don't realize that it's love sending us running into the arms of comfort food. All we know is that we must eat now, quickly, immediately, health and consequences be damned.

And that's pretty understandable: calm, rational thinking isn't usually an option when the urge to binge strikes—which makes learning the pause technique the single most important step you'll ever take in learning how to control emotional eating.

The next step would be uncovering why you feel unloved, and then, how to make the changes needed to rectify that—especially the love you've been withholding from yourself.

For emotional eaters, the path to love is often littered with a thousand candy wrappers. Don't feel a moment's shame for a single one of them; they mark the long and arduous journey that has brought you to this, your own fork in the road.

Don't stop now.

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