In my list of reasons why I eat I realized that my inability to deal with emotional issues often leads me to eat emotionally. I use food to block, avoid, deal with emotional problems. I already knew I had a problem with emotional eating (among other problems) but this list clarified some of the key emotions that trigger my eating.
My History With Emotional Eating
Today I want to dig deeper into my past with emotional eating and share a bit of my own personal history with emotional eating.
I have had a problem with emotional eating for as long as I can remember.
Emotional Eating In Middle School
It became a real problem while I was in middle school. I had always been overweight but that is when my eating habits and my weight started to get out of control.
Although I have always been overweight I was not teased about it like many overweight children. In school no one ever called me names or made fun of me. I almost always managed to be the fattest person in class but I was never teased for that fact. I simply was fat and that was that. Sure some kids probably made fun of me and same mean things behind my back, but no one ever said anything to me so I had a pleasant school experience as a fat girl.
Though kids did not tease me at school I was picked on because of my weight. My tormenters were my family members. I would survive a day at school only to come home and be picked on mercilessly by my family. Thanks to my brothers and sometimes my parents not a single day of my life passed without the painful public acknowledgment of my fatness.
My years in middle school were the worst. I was quickly gaining weight during that three year period. My life had been turned upside down as my family moved across the country twice within a year and a half. I turned to food for comfort because I knew it was going to be there for me. I might have lost all my friends, then lost all my new friends, but I had food left.
My family’s second move pushed me over the edge as I found myself in a new environment that I hated. I had no friends, I was very quiet in school (and super self conscious since I felt overweight and out of place), and didn’t want to think about how unhappy I was when life had been so great before we moved. So I didn’t make new friends. I let food become my friend.
I wish I had found a different friend.
During this middle school period is when the teasing from my brother started to worsen. I had always been picked on by my three younger brothers… mostly because they were my three younger brothers. But during this time the brother who is closest to my age began to take out all his pain and frustration on me. He was also unhappy with the move and new school. He had health problems and was picked on in school which led him to come home and pick on me. He had no power at school but at home he could find power as he called me names until I would cry.
“Fat,” “pig,” “disgusting,” “gross,” – the list of names he called me is endless but I remember these the most. I remember feeling like I was nothing. My other brothers caught on and increased their venomous comments toward me as well. My father had always been mean to me but during this period he also started commenting on my weight as well as everything else that was supposedly wrong with me. My mom never teased me and never said anything mean on purpose, but her concern for my growing weight problem often led her to say and do things that were interpreted negatively by an already hurt and stressed middle school girl.
It didn’t matter that people at school were nice to me and no one teased me. The people who were supposed to love me the most did not. They made fun of me. They hurt me. They acted like I wasn’t worth being part of their skinny family of athletes. The brother that took out his aggression and hurt on me made me feel so terrible that I often considered running away or other forms of ending the torture. But I was too scared to do anything drastic so I just kept eating.
Shoveling food in my mouth only made the problem worse if my brothers saw me eating. So I tried to eat secretly and shovel the food down quickly so I could feel better about life even if for a brief second. I could eat something – anything and everything I could find sometimes – and the pain of what my family said would disappear for a while.
Emotional Eating In High School
This continued from 7th grade through 9th grade. When I was in 10th grade and my brother finally started high school he finally started being nicer to me. Once he had removed himself from the teasing and pain he felt in his own life he decided to be nicer to me. He stopped teasing me and while I was in high school I had a relatively calm period where I was not made fun of for being fat.
But by the time my brother stopped teasing me the damage had been done. I had spent two full years eating to calm my pain from the verbal abuse I received and the damage to my body was already complete. I had gone from being overweight to obese in that time. I had developed eating habits that supported weight gain. My brothers may have stopped teasing me, but every time I had a bad day or someone hurt my feelings I had the urge to turn to food. And I did. By the time I graduated high school I was morbidly obese.
My parents separated in my senior year of high school and my mean verbally abuse father moved out. My brothers were no longer teasing me. All of the things that had originally made me turn to food were gone. I was tired of being fat and tired of feeling like a bad person because of it.
The Beginning of Healthy Living In College
I lost 55 pounds my freshman year of college. I started working out regularly during this time beyond just playing sports and I also started eating better. I dealt with bad eating habits by teaching myself to like vegetables and salads and other healthy foods. I didn’t overhaul all my habits, I simply added in healthy ones and that made a huge difference.
I kept that off and lost ten more pounds my junior year when I studied abroad and had the happiest most fun time. Walking everywhere and spending a ton of time with other people led me to indulge in food and drinking in a healthy way rather than as a way to escape. I lost weight without even trying during that period of life.
Emotional Eating As An Adult
But I gained almost all of it back after I graduated college and moved home.
I moved home to save money and figure out what I wanted to do next. I never expected to regain so much weight or to have such a miserable and unhealthy experience. I kept my weight off for 3 full years. I thought I had put the unhealthy habits and negative feelings behind me, but I was wrong.
When I moved home I moved in with my mom and my youngest brother. When I was in middle school he was not part of the teasing I experienced from the other two brothers. Sure he through in some mean comments but he was a little kids and really didn’t know what he was saying. He is now all grown up and definitely knows what he is saying. He is worse than my other brother ever was when I was in middle school.
My youngest brother has his own issues. His health problems forced him to fail 9th grade and then drop out to be home schooled. He was forced to quite playing baseball, a sport which dominated his life since he was 5. He is a very unhappy individual and definitely has reasons to be so if he chooses them.
When I moved home my youngest brother did not want me in the house. He said he had been waiting for years for everyone to move out so he could be the only one left at home. My appearance at home ruined his plans. Since he was already unhappy he did what he had learned to do growing up: make fun of me. He learned that lesson well from watching everyone else do it. In fact he has mastered the art because nothing before hurt me as much as the stuff he says to me. He does this constantly while I am around him, making me feel like I am about two inches tall.
His comments hurt so much. I thought I had moved passed the verbal abuse years ago. I thought I had stopped hearing negative comments about my weight, my intelligence, my lifestyle, my education, everything about me. I thought I had moved past being made fun of like I am nothing. I thought I had escaped that kind of painful experience, but I was wrong. I relive it every day. Every. Single. Day.
So I have a history of unhappy family members taking their pain out on me. I understand why they do this, but I am unable to cope properly with the effects it has on me. I eat to soothe my pain caused by their actions. I try to heal the hurt they caused any way I can. I know the food doesn’t make anything better in the long run, but after an hour long session of being told I am worthless it makes me feel a little bit better. And because of this in the last 8 months I have regained almost all my weight I worked hard to lose.