I’ve been thinking today as I sorted out my sewing box (how many buttons?!) and my stationery box (how many pens?!) about the how’s and why’s of my relationship with food, and what lies behind it.
I don’t know anyone, overweight or underweight, who doesn’t have problems with emotional eating, and in some ways I think it’s the hardest thing to step away from. Unlike with heroin or crack or alcohol where one just abstains from the substance to deal with the addiction with food we can’t, we all have to eat to survive.
And these are deeply ingrained behavior patterns melded into our psyche as children then carried through to adulthood where they become a subconscious belief – the belief that certain foods make us ‘feel better’.
What do we do with a crying baby? Feed it. How do we cheer a toddler out of a mood? Food. What do we reward children with when they clear their plates? Sweet food. (two lots of issues there – we are all trained not to ‘waste’ food from an early age so we stop noticing when we’re full). What do we have as treats on special days, holy days, birthdays? Food, food & more food.
It’s no big shocker that we associate food with comfort more than anything else. When we eat that bar of chocolate or packet of biscuits we are unconsciously reaching back through time to our first feeds, when food also meant being held close, safe & loved, with no worries or cares. That’s a really strong pull, and in essence it’s what we’re fighting.
I don’t know what makes the difference between people who have a healthy relationship with food and those who don’t. People who can have two chocolates and put the box away for another time. Maybe it’s nurture, maybe nature. I’m sure the answer would be worth millions!!
But I do know my eating issues started in my early twenties, and I’ve had them ever since. I can look back at times when I was really happy and the weight fell off, and then sometimes when I thought I was happy and the weight was piling back on anyway.
For years I’ve watched furtively as slim people ate chocolate bars or ice cream and thought “well they can have them, why should I go without”. Yes they. They (the slim people) are obviously a race of aliens with incredible willpower. Except no. They simply view food as fuel, enjoyable fuel but without the emotional baggage we attach to our eating.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know what it isn’t for me. Diets. Shakes. Low Carb/fat/protein. Intermittent fasting. Atkins. Weight watchers. Banning sugar. Spending three mornings a week at the gym. Yes, I’ve done all of these plus others over the past twenty eight years. And I’ve lost weight. And on it has gone again because I haven’t tackled the cause. My mind.
So for me the change I make now has to be permanent, and yes, if that means I calorie count for the next twenty years so be it. Because I can’t be trusted not to. Interestingly I’m not finding this hard. Difficult yes, but not hard.
I’m rediscovering a love for fruit and salad and veggies cooked well with flavour. I’ve found a wonderful organic granola that has no added sugar or fruit and its gorgeous. I’m remembering to reach for grapes or a carrot or a rice cake if I’m peckish. I’m actually planning meals on the days that I can cook, and enjoying preparing them.
Believe me when I say I could happily ditch this tomorrow, go back to eating mostly crap and put weight back on in a heartbeat. But you know what? I want this more. I don’t want to have to use an extender on plane seat belts. I don’t want to keep looking for the sturdier chairs. I don’t want to keep wearing shapeless tunics because they ‘cover the bumps’. And I don’t want doctors to be less concerned about my symptoms because they look at me & see fat. I want to remove that excuse from their arsenal.
But most of all I want… Leather trousers, 50th birthday 😎👖👢💛
As always comments & opinions are my own and not a substitute for speaking with a medical professional
5 thoughts on “Emotional Eating…”
It has taken me almost 4 years to lose about 58 Kilograms (130 lbs). I still have 14K (30 lbs), more to go and it might take another 3 years to get those. But I am close to being able to parachute. I have to weigh less than 99K (220 lbs) to jump tandem and I am determined to get there.
Someday soon I hope, I will get the chance to jump. I hope to do it this spring.
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Rick that’s amazing, well done!! I think we need to remind ourselves sometimes this didn’t go on overnight, and it won’t come off that way either. Slow & steady is the key. And I love your goal, a tandem jump will be amazing 😁
Yes, yes, YES! I’ve faced the same issue for the last, oh, 25 years myself, Denise. I don’t know if it’s emotional eating or not, but I’ve also felt jealous, aggravated, and even hopeless as I watch others eat fast foods, unhealthy snacks, and packaged foods without gaining an ounce. (My elderly mom is one of them! Her weight hasn’t fluctuated more than 5 pounds, up or down, for nearly her entire adult life.) But like you, I’m back to working on it again. Trying to learn to love veggies, watch my carbs, eat healthy protein, stay away from sweets and snacks. It’s difficult, yes. But also like you, I want to succeed at this for all the right reasons. I’m rocking three of the four problems that cause metabolic syndrome: fat around the waist, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. I’ve managed to avoid high glucose/diabetes so far. I really don’t want to have a heart attack, stroke, or other life-threatening problems; rheumatoid disease and the comorbidities it has caused are more than enough, thank you.
So, here’s wishing you the best of luck as you work toward fitting into those leather pants! For me, it’s a more normal clothing size–one that I can find attractive clothes in! And yes, health. Energy. More joy in myself.
We can do this! 😀
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Ohhhhhh to shop in ‘normal’ clothes shops! I too have fat at the waist and high BP so the weight definitely needs to go. I’ll be honest I’ve fallen off the wagon recently but I’m determined to get back to it in the morning next few days, just hoping I haven’t put too much back on, frustrating!
Best of luck to us both 😊💙
Best of luck to you too! Easter egg gone, back on the wagon!