Most of us are familiar with the term ‘emotional eating.’ It’s that annoying thing we do – often unintentionally – when we eat when we’re not hungry in order to numb negative emotions.
Yeah… we’re all unfortunately familiar with ’emotional eating.’
But what about positive emotional eating?
What about those of us who eat because we like it?
Not because we like avoiding something bad, but because we enjoy gaining something good?
This is called ‘joy eating,’ and it can prevent you from losing weight just as much as ‘regular’ emotional eating can.
What Joy Eating Looks Like
Joy eating is not led by hunger – joy eating is always led by joy. (Pardon the redundancy.)
If you’re someone who enjoys all food, you may assume that all your eating is joy eating – but that may not be the case.
Scarfing down a family-size bag of chips isn’t joy eating. Although the exhilaration and crunchy satisfaction of binging on a whole bag of chips may feel pleasurable in the moment, it’s not joy eating.
Joy eating usually includes big, fancy dinners, top-shelf alcohol, and other scrumdiddlyumptiousness that we tend to really look forward to.
(I don’t know a single person who really looks forward to a whole bag of chips… Do you?)
The Key Question to Ask Yourself
So ask yourself, “How much of my eating is joy eating?”
Pause and take some time right now to put a percentage on it.
Is it 50% of the time? 90%? Maybe a surprising 5% for those of you who consider eating a chore instead of enjoyment. (Not judging, I promise.)
How much of your eating is guided by joy instead of hunger?
Think about it. I’ll wait…
…Do you have your number?
It’s important to understand that joy eating is not bad when you do it in moderation. So the key percentage is joy eating 10% of the time or less.
Was your percentage higher than that?
If so, you know where to start working.
Joy That Isn’t Food
When we don’t have necessary fun in our life, we tend to seek fun from food – and it can lead to weight gain.
We will eat, eat, eat because it’s fun – and nothing else in our life is filling that need.
So, for those of you who joy eat more than 10% of the time, take a look at your life and ask yourself, “How can I have more fun?”
Because if your percentage was higher than 10%, then there isn’t enough fun in your life that isn’t food. And that’s not okay because fun is just as necessary as oxygen.
And once you start adding more joy to your life outside of food, it can lead to weight loss.
Why You’re Not Having Fun
Although it seems simple – almost too simple – it can actually be quite difficult to allow yourself to have fun, especially if you have reason not to – sometimes subconsciously.
For example, if you’re a parent, sole bread-winner, or someone with little free time, it can be hard to justify ‘wasting time’ pursuing a hobby, and you may come up with the following arguments:
- How can I have fun when I have to work all day long and I’m exhausted when I get home?
- How can I have fun when I have three children to take care of?
- How can I have fun when I have so many responsibilities?
Whether you had these thoughts or not, the answer to all counterarguments is this: Having fun is your birthright, and you will find time because you will make time.
How to Add More Joy to Your Life
You don’t have to know what you’re passionate in order to have fun. You just need to do something that you love – and it will become a passion.
Passion is not WHAT you do; passion is HOW you do it.
Have you always wanted to start a blog? Try your hand at calligraphy? Read that stack of books you’ve been collecting? Train for a marathon? (Again, not judging.)
Awesome! Start doing those things NOW!
Because the more we wait in order to have fun, the more we will compensate by joy eating and, as a result, add unnecessary inches to our waistline.
No matter how busy your schedule is – it’s possible to have fun. You just need to do 2 things:
- Schedule fun into your day like an appointment
- Don’t miss that appointment come hell or high water
Maybe that’s exactly what you need.
Exchanging Your Love Affair
When you really love something, you’ll find time for it.
For example, think about all the sleazy husbands who work 8am-8pm and have wives and children to take care of – yet they always find time for a hot, steamy hotel fling in the middle of the day, even if it means rearranging a few meetings.
It’s despicable, horrendous, and absolutely not okay – but here’s my point:
When something matters to us – we make it happen.
So I want you to make joy matter to you the way a love affair would matter. I want fun to become the thing you spend your whole day thinking about – just like a secret lover.
I want your daydreams wrapped around the next time you’ll have one hour to devote to your fun, passionate fling. Er, hobby.
If you do this, you will stop thinking about food all the time.
Instead of obsessing about what your next joy meal will be, you’ll be obsessing over the next time you’ll get to practice your hobby.
And the best part is that you’ll be left with a really cool skill or project to show off later. It’s such a WIN!
Is Joy Keeping You from Losing Weight? – Summarized In Once Really Long Sentence
If you aren’t having enough fun in your life, then you may be joy eating to compensate and it could be causing excess weight, which you can easily lose by scheduling more fun into your day and treating it like your new love affair.
A note to book-lovers: This was inspired by a brilliant book by life coach Brooke Castillo called “If I’m so Smart, Why Can’t I Lose Weight? Tools to Get It Done!” I found all her tools wildly helpful, and if this resonated with you, then I highly recommend it.