It happens a lot, especially in America and other Anglo nations, it’s a cultural problem. It’s the legal alternative to heroin to deal with the emotional turmoil that people create for themselves. Below is a list of why and how emotional eating happens.
First, a semantic distinction to clarify what we’re dealing with here: emotional eating isn’t the same as gluttony. Gluttony has nothing to do with emotional turmoil, it’s more an expression of selfishness and self-indulgence without regard to others. Emotional eating happens when there’s a need to alleviate emotional turmoil by eating too much.
Reasons Why Emotional Eating Happens so Much in the US
American schools and parents are soft, while American society is brutally competitive.
Japanese baseball teams are allowed to have no more than three foreign born players. No such restrictions in Major League Baseball, American players compete against everyone for a roster spot. Similarly, Japanese workers are protected by the company — job for life — whereas US workers can lose their jobs to someone in another country anytime. Japan is a de facto welfare state, while the US is a hyper-capitalist state.
Yet education in Japan and other confucian nations such as China and South Korea is so brutal, you’d think they’re preparing kids to work in the US. American education system, on the other hand, coddles its students so much that most experience shock when they enter the US workforce. (The top 200 or so American high schools, however, are some of the most brutal in the world). Mix that lack of preparation with high expectations for life and there’s going to be a lot of emotional eating.
How Koreans brutalize their kids to prepare them for adult life.
“Hi, how are you. I’m fine, thank you. And how are you? I’m fine too, thank you.”
Many think the above exchange is pleasant and polite. It’s not, it’s training the mind to lie — pathological lying begins with seemingly benign lies — and it teaches people that being “fine” or happy ought to be our normative state because that’s how everyone is, like all the time. Then people think there’s something wrong with themselves when they’re not happy, even though according to all the great religions and all the great philosophers, you’re not supposed to be happy most of the time, life is mostly suffering with a few moments of happiness here and there. To appear “fine,” people will create an alternate reality about themselves which turn into delusions. Put simply, those uncomfortable with their own suffering and the suffering of others will become emotional eaters trying to sustain their delusions about themselves and others.
It’s also training people to be glib and superficial when considering one’s own and other people’s feelings, making it difficult for people to have probing conversations that’s the foundation of fulfilling relationships. People instead talk mostly to brag, compliment, advise, and complain, rarely to ask questions. This makes people lonely, and that’ll trigger emotional eating.
And finally, it trains people to not listen. There’s no need to listen if nearly everyone has the same, predictable vacant response. Not listening makes people feel irrelevant and lonely.
The side effect of people being uncomfortable with their own and other people’s suffering is political correctness. People can’t interact with each other as individuals when their suffering is politicized and measured by words and phrases. People also can’t take responsibility for their own suffering when they blame others for it. Not feeling like you can do anything about your suffering, not the suffering itself, will lead to emotional eating.
Could the lack of political correctness in China be why there’s less obesity there?
If you hate yourself it means your instincts are telling you that you’re fucking up. If you then try to fix the self-loathing with self-love, your emotional compass will go haywire and respond to the self-love with more self-hate because deep down you know you don’t deserve that love. Vanity is the deadliest of the seven deadly sins because it makes one blind to one’s sins — self-defense mechanisms psychologists call it — and that’ll cause emotional eating.
It’s meant to be polite, it comes off as sappy and pretentious, and it’s actually the same as lying. It could be lying to inflate one’s self-esteem: “project coordinator” instead of “secretary,” “CEO” instead of “shopkeeper,” “sandwich artist” instead of “sandwich maker.” Or lying to make the unpleasant more palatable: “human rights campaign” for “imperialism,” “qualitative easing” for “printing more money to fund imperialism,” and “going to the restroom” for “going to the toilet to take a shit.” Euphemistic language distorts reality and creates delusions that trigger emotional eating.
Emotional Eating is a Symptom of a Disease
The above five share a common theme: being uncomfortable with and sidestepping the harsh realities of life will trigger emotional eating. The refusal to make candid assessments and to use blunt language to describe what one observes is the source of our emotional turmoil. If you’re an emotional eater, figure out why you’re uncomfortable with uncomfortable truths about yourself and others, especially if you’re addicted to compliments. You don’t need to love yourself and others to end emotional turmoil. You just need to accept that you and everyone else are fucktards, just as Jesus does.