Some Thoughts on Emotional Eating

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A wonderful woman I know through blogging, Coley, posted a comment to my last post and it's something I'd really like to share with all of you - if I can sort my thoughts enough to get it all out. WARNING: I'll probably ramble, but it should be good to talk about nonetheless. Anyway, here's the comment:

"Hey girl, have you done a post recently about how you're "feeling" differently about food and overeating? I've been really intrigued and looking within myself and observing others in the hopes of better undersatnding myself - the emotional side of staying fat, the 'numbing out' habit/using food as a drug, tendency - and I'm wondering how you're feeling about that, have you replaced those emotional habits? Stuff like that - how are you feeling towards your body - or have you noticed this transformation mostly in your head?

I also, being a bigger girl for as long as I can remember, am a bit worried about what I'll think when I see a smaller person in the mirror...


Ohhh gosh. Coley, I've been reading your posts on this topic and a lot of your thoughts are really eye opening for me. I am most definitely an emotional eater, as I've admitted before, though I didn't realize it until well into my weight loss journey. It's so obvious to me now - the sneaking food, eating to feel better, getting unreasonably upset when I can't eat, etc. It's been going on as long as I can remember. Initially I just considered myself someone who loved food (which I do) and just enjoyed eating unhealthy things. But recently I realized that it is seriously more than that. Yeah, I love food, but not just because it's delicious and part of tradition and a "feel good" thing for me. I love it because it's my crutch. It's my way to "cope" with things I don't really want to cope with. Honestly, I haven't made much progress besides just REALIZING that I have this problem, but to me that's a big step in itself. "Numbing" is the perfect way to describe what I use food for... anytime I feel stressed or sad or mad or angry or upset or depressed, I want to eat. I want to think about nothing but the food and how it tastes and the calm that I know will come when I'm eating it. I get overwhelming sad and angry when I can't or don't. Now that I've realized that I do this, I'm trying to consciously talk myself through it and make myself realize that eating wont make it better, and the freedom of mind that comes with high calorie binges wont last. The problems will still be there after the food has gone. It's scary to me, really. I feel like I'm out on this flimsy limb and it's a 10,000 foot drop to the ground. It's like, if I can't use food to make myself feel better, what do I use? How do I deal? So no - I haven't found something to replace these habits, but I'm working on it.

There are still plenty of times when I get so down that I just don't care and I make the conscious decision to let go & eat whatever I want & however much of it. It's so crazy to me that FOOD, something that our bodies NEED, can be abused in such a way. I hate that out of control feeling I get when the urges are really strong. I hate that it feels so good - at least in the moment - to give in. I hate that it feels so bad afterwords.

That's at least a summary or of the beginnings of my feelings and thoughts on emotional eating. I'm doing better, but I know I have a lengthy road ahead of me. I think it's something I may need to talk to someone professionally about. Just depression, overeating, and feelings in general. I dunno, I think it could help...

Moving on...
I've been overweight my entire life as well. While it would be a lie to say that I don't notice that I'm getting smaller, it's also a lie to say that I don't still feel HUGE. And I don't mean in the cliche "I'm sooo fat" way, I mean, I look at my body in the mirror and I still see the overweight, round, double chinned, big bellied person. Now that I've missed almost a week of working out, it's worse, and probably only because I FEEL worse from not having moved my body at all.

That being said - I have days and times when I look in the mirror and think, "Wow, I'm actually getting thin!" And it feels good :). I feel accomplished, and a little more confident. When I'm eating healthy foods and exercising consistently, these good days come more often. And it's only now, that I'm putting all of this into words, that I realize this. Hmmm, I need to remember that. I have more GOOD days when I'm being good to my body. To be happy and feel good about myself and about life in general, I need to take care of myself physically.

Sometimes looking at my reflection feels weird - like it's not really me.... I just don't recognize myself. But it's not necessarily a bad feeling. It's something that I definitely think is going to get better over time. The more comfortable I get, the more like "me" I'll start feeling.

Sorry if this all sounds jumbled and crazy. Hope some of you can relate!

P.S. - Did I tell you all that I got a JOB?! YAYYYY!!! I started the Monday after finals (IT'S FINALLY SUMMER WOOOO!!!!) so today was my second day. I really like it! :) I'm so thankful and happy to have found it and to have been hired!



Sarah said...

Wow this is exactly what I needed to read right now! I feel the same way about all of that, and it makes me feel better knowing i'm not the only one that struggles. I've been under alot of stress the past week or so. So yeah, i'm like screw it i'll have a piece of cheesecake, or a cookie, or a soda. Things I would usually try to avoid since i'm trying to eat better. For some reason I have the idea in my mind that eating it will make me feel better, but it doesn't. Then I just feel stressed and guilty and mad at myself. I haven't worked out in about a week either and my body feels just so blah. I admit I was really sore last week because I started a new workout dvd, but I felt so good being sore, because at least that meant I was working out hard. Now after not doing it for a few days I feel like i'm at ground zero again. It's just finals and all of this other crap and stupid family drama. Whenever I get overwhelmed I just say F**k it to my diet and that's just sabotaging me big time. Sorry for the rant. Just wanted to let ya know I heard ya, I get it and Thank You!

I love your post Carissa! It's so honest... and those are exactly the things we go through as emotional eaters. I actually started going to therapy for this back in Decemeber. I have always been a big girl and have always been a binge eater, but I really figured that in order to lose weight the right way and keep it off this time... I needed to address the emotional and psychological issues behind it.

There are a few things I have learned and realized that I thought I would share with you:

-emotional eaters are not the only people that use food for comfort. Hence the term "comfort food." It's just that emotional eaters abuse it versus using it on occasion.

-unfortunately emotional eaters are like alcoholics or drug addicts. We are emotionally addicted to food. The difference is that alcoholics can quit drinking and they can keep themselves away from it. Drug addicts can quit getting high and keep themselves away from it. We need food to survive. It's a big cosmic joke of sorts.

-I never realized how much TIME is put into planning a dinner/binge until my therapist pointed out that by doing this we are distracting ourselves from what is bothering us. We re-focus on what we're going to eat, going and getting it, cooking, eating, cleaning up. All of these things are part of a process of keeping ourselves from feeling/looking at what is bothering us. This was a HUGE A-HA moment for me.

-When you start to actually realize "I'm not really hungry I'm just ______ (fill in blank emotion)" is a HUGE deal. You're actually recognizing your feelings and the longer you fight them the more empowered you are... even if you give in to the binge it's the fact that you RECOGNIZED what you were doing and that's the first step in the right direction.

Thanks for making this post! I hope some of the things I shared are things you're starting to recognize or things that click with your brain and make you go "oh, I'm starting to get it now!" We're all in the journey together and while it's not the easiest... at least we're taking the time to do things the RIGHT way.

Have a great day girl! So proud of you!

Amy said... so glad i read this post. Thank you Carissa for posting it and being so open and honest. I also wanted to give thanks to the wonderful comments so far. Just reading this wonderful post with the comments will help me get through the day on my plan(i count calories and have been struggling for a few months now)

Hugs to everyone!

P.S Congrats on the new job too, WTG girl :)


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