It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with emotional eating. It’s something I learned as a coping mechanism early in life and one of the main reasons why I became obese. I’m not cured from it but I’ve not struggled with it nearly as much lately.
However last week I had a little brush in with emotional eating. I posted about it on my food blog when recounting the food I ate that day. The post got some responses that were enlightening for me Jen:
And the emotional eating crap? Eh. I didn’t see anything HORRIBLE there. You didn’t binge on dairy queen or KFC. I’m sure it felt like you went crazy overboard but today is a new day so smile DAMMIT!
and from Rachel:
Might be off-base here, but I honestly don’t see a huge difference between what you ate yesterday (quality/quantity-wise) as compared to past days. It seem that ‘intent’ has to do with whether or not you consider your consumption ‘emotional’-based because honestly, I wouldn’t have considered this menu out of the ordinary if you didn’t mention it… weird?
Woah. You know what? They were right. What I ate wasn’t that bad. I ate some crackers and some cereal until the point where I was slightly past comfortably full. Afterwards I felt almost sick but it wasn’t because of the food – it was because I finally stopped eating and let myself feel all the things I was trying avoid feeling.
Not that long ago I felt like I had no control over what I was eating. There was something about the process of emotional eating that felt like I had to do it, that it was necessary, that is was the only way I could feel better about anything. Now that’s hardly the case. Sometimes I still want to eat because I’m emotionally hungry (not physically hungry). Sometimes I let it happen, like I did then, and sometimes I don’t. But even when I let it happen it’s not that bad.
I hadn’t really realized that yet. Before the point where I realized emotional eating was a problem for me it basically went unchecked. Small bites could turn into binges if I was depressed or upset and stopping myself. Now that rarely happens. Even when I “binge” it’s about 1/3 of the food I used to eat as a binge.
My emotional eating now usually just gets contained to some overeating with the intent of comforting myself with food. It’s more about the intent I have when eating rather than what I’m eating or how much. I try to always be mindful of what I’m eating and why I’m eating something, so I know when I’m emotionally eating. That’s a huge change from my previous actions. And with that I sometimes allow myself to eat things that I know will comfort me temporarily until I’m ready to sort out the feelings I need to sort out. Some people don’t think that’s smart and think it’s silly, but it helps me sometimes. And it doesn’t go further than a meal and it doesn’t send me out scrambling for more food.
I’ve made progress. It’s hard to unlearn behaviors you learned as a kid and have carried with you for 20 something years. But I’m working on it still. Always working on it.
And it’s the small victories that count. I continue to make progress even if I don’t know it.
Have you ever made progress but not noticed? Isn’t blogging awesome because other people can help you realize something about yourself?
ps – Check back tomorrow for a giveaway of sorts. I’m cleaning out stuff at my mom’s house today and getting rid of lots of fitness/health related books and DVDs. I’m going to list them all and if you want them they are yours! Check back for that in the am.