You can’t. You can’t change someone’s tolerance for stress or their attitude toward emotions they’re uncomfortable with (typically anger, fear, and hate). Telling an emotional eater how to stop emotional eating is like telling a fat person what needs to be done to lose weight — they already know what needs to be done. That’s why anti-obesity education programs are stupid and ineffective and in some cases, exacerbate the problem (like that stupid food pyramid guideline that told everyone to carb out). People don’t need to be told how many steps they ought to take per day and what they need to eat to reach their body shape goal. The entire weight-loss industry (not to be confused with fitness industry) is a scam.
How to Control Emotional Eating
One can, however, control emotional eating so that the problem doesn’t get worse.
Acting to control, rather than to stop emotional eating, should already feel liberating. It’s like the difference between a trainer asking an out-of-shape client to run an entire mile at any pace instead of a four minute mile. It’s nearly impossible to re-train someone to stop their psychobiological reactions and failure will only discourage continued effort. But minor behavioral changes are possible, especially if they have nothing to do with food.
Below are a few habits that make emotional eating worse.
Reading and Posting Motivational Quotes
Those who post them are doing so precisely because they lack motivation and are hoping to gain that motivation by posting cliches about it. Those who are motivated don’t waste time reading about how to be motivated. They’re busy doing what needs to be done to reach their goals.
Motivational quotes state the obvious, there’s nothing profound about “Gratitude is the best medicine”or “Everything we ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” Which means posting motivational quotes is at best virtue signaling and at worst, will make you feel terrible about yourself for lacking motivation once the nice feeling you get from virtue signaling wears off. So stop reading and posting them. They’re not inspirational, they’re self-defeating because they trick you into feeling like you’re making progress when you’re not.
Dieting and Reading Diet Books
Emotional eaters are obsessed with food. So are dieters. Telling an emotional eater to go on a diet is like telling a sex addict to watch porn to get rid of the addiction. The goal is to stop obsessing about food, and avoiding food requires as much obsession for food as does craving food all the time.
In most diet books, the subtext is: it’s not your fault, you weren’t educated but now you are. Bullshit. People know what they should and shouldn’t be eating and doing. Feigning ignorance is a self-defense mechanism created by an education industry that teaches people to not trust their instincts, to become clueless, needy nitwits really. So stop dieting and reading diet books that turn people into hapless twits if you want to control emotional eating.
Anglo cultures (eg. UK, Canada) love sarcasm. It’s everywhere and most are proud to be sarcastic. Here’s the dictionary definition of sarcasm:
the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.
Here’s the Wiki definition:
a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter gibe or taunt
Here’s the Greek etymology of sarcasm:
Greek sarkasmos “sarcasm,” from sarkazein “to tear flesh, bite the lips in rage, sneer,”
Which means most Americans, without realizing it, are bitter people who prefer to express contempt in a joking manner so as to not take ownership for feeling and expressing it. And people wonder why middle-class America is the most medicated demographic in the world. When people dress feelings they’re uncomfortable with — hate and anger — as “harmless, sassy wit,” they become emotionally corrupt. One can’t be nice AND sarcastic, just as one can’t be a nice rapist. Pick one or the other, one can’t have it both ways. Trying to have it both ways is how batshit crazy begins.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling contempt and taunting another person. Even Jesus felt contempt toward the Pharisees and had sharp words for them. It’s the dishonesty about one’s intentions and sense of self that’s toxic. If you’re going to be mean, be unabashedly mean and take responsibility for it instead of dressing it up as a joke.
And just how mean does one need to be? Usually, not mean enough to warrant using sarcasm to express what’s bothering you, the razor blades sarcasm brings to most fights are gratuitous and excessive. Check out this opening line from an Emily Warren music video:
Good news Riley, looks like you’re going to be working the entire weekend
That’s a typical sarcastic remark Americans make. How is that funny? It isn’t funny to Riley, who was looking forward to having the weekend off. Maybe it’s funny to those who really really hate Riley and wish the worst for her? Is the speaker marveling at his own so-called wit, at Riley’s expense? Wouldn’t it be kinder if he’d said this instead:
Riley, I’m sorry. I know you were looking forward to taking this weekend off, but we really need you to work this weekend. I’ll make it up to you.
Point is, a lot of people make sarcastic remarks when it’s inappropriate to do so. This creates negativity that’s somehow packaged as funny to those who delight in other people’s follies and misfortunes.
If the intention is to be bitter and mean, then fine, continue with the sarcasm. But don’t tell everyone how nice you are because that’s about as honest as American foreign policy.
Save the sarcasm for when you’re really really pissed, like ready to choke that person out pissed. Here’s how Jesus used sarcasm to taunt a mob that wanted to stone him:
They picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” – John 10:31–32
Ouch. Here’s another example of sarcasm used appropriately, someone asked Moses if he was fucking up after he led his wandering Jews out of Egypt:
Was there a lack of graves in Egypt, that you took us away to die in the wilderness?” Exodus 14:11
Another example from Hamlet Act 1, Scene 2, in which Hamlet gets pissed about his mom marrying his uncle way too soon after his father has died:
“Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral bak’d meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.”
In the above three examples, sarcasm is used only in dire situations and its purpose isn’t to joke around, it’s to elucidate what’s really happening. To use sarcasm to joke about everyday situations is to use it inappropriately, with disastrous consequences.
Vanity of Vanities
Other seemingly benign habits we could add to the list include sentimentality, politeness grandstanding, euphemistic language, gratuitous compliments, and so forth. The point is, emotional problems and cravings aren’t triggered by external events. We trigger them ourselves, often without realizing it, because we’ve fooled ourselves into believing that our sins are harmless, good habits even. That’s our vanity at work, the deadliest of the seven deadly sins because it’s the source of all other sins precisely because it makes us blind to them.
The bogeyman isn’t some public figure one disagrees with or some criminal we read about in the news. The bogeyman is within every one of us — we create our own emotional turmoil — and our worst sins are the ones we hide from ourselves and others, repackaged as benevolence.