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3 tbsp of Mindfulness

Theresa PagaNini

Theresa Paganini is a founder of The Monarch Effect, helps local and remote clients who struggle with obesity and emotional eating learn to change their mindset and behaviors in order to finally overcome their struggles and live a happy, healthy life.

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Mindful with Harsha: Is there a relationship between self-love and emotional eating?

Theresa: There definitely is, but this is very much like the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. People that struggle with emotional eating also tend to struggle with depression, feelings of self-disgust, and even self-hatred. Sadly, many emotional eaters suffered a trauma in their past that acted as the catalyst for their emotional eating habits. Although heartbreaking, it is common for a victim to feel at fault or at least feel guilt for a trauma, which is where their struggle with self-love begins. Then, because they struggle so much with self-control around food, and therefore struggle with their weight, they are overwhelmed with feelings of self-disgust and shame,  rather than love and compassion. The more they embrace these feelings of disgust and shame the greater their emotional eating tendencies. 

Mindful with Harsha: How does the environment/community affect emotional eating?

Theresa Both environment and community affect emotional eating in a variety of ways.

  • First of all, because food is a panacea for an emotional eater, if it is easily accessible, there is always a reason to eat it, hungry or not. So, if an emotional eater is in an environment in which they are continually surrounded by tempting food, they will struggle not to eat. Food is their pleasure, it is their comfort, it is even their punishment, so it always feels appropriate to eat. It is very difficult for an emotional eater to turn down food if it is present. 

  • As for the community, people that don't struggle with emotional eating have very little understanding or compassion for it. Because they don't struggle with it, they don't understand how addictive food is for an emotional eater. So, when an emotional eater makes a grand effort to eat healthy and a friend, family member or peer says, "Oh, just have a bite" or "Just enjoy it! You can eat a salad later," it makes it very very difficult for the emotional eater to stick to their guns and avoid their trigger foods. Especially when everyone around them is eating it. If the community of people around an emotional eater were a bit more intuitive and compassionate, they would alter where they went to eat, what they ordered and what they said to support and encourage an emotional eater rather than leading them into temptation. 


Mindful with Harsha: What is the reason people struggle with emotional eating?

Theresa: There are multiple reasons someone could struggle with emotional eating.

  • As I mentioned above, past trauma and an inability to cope with it is a very common reason for being an emotional eater. 

  • Another reason is learning emotional eating behaviors from parents, friends or other important people in their life. 

  • Emotional eaters also tend to suffer from food addiction, so how their brain reacts to food also impacts their tendency to become an emotional eater or not. 

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