Today, I decided to start with the first post of a series I started a while ago about why I became obese. The reasons people end up weighing more than they should are all different, but mine are pretty simple and all related to my past disordered ways of eating: emotional eating, compulsive eating, and binge eating. I’m still writing the other posts and they will show up in the near future as a continuation of this series. Emotional eating was the easiest for me to write since I’ve already written quite a lot about being an emotional eater, so here it is.
Why I Became Obese – Emotional Eating
I don’t spend a ton of time writing about how I became obese or the misery attached to that particular condition in my case. I like to focus instead on happier things – the exercise I do and how it makes me feel, what cool things I’m doing with my life, anything that makes me happy. It’s easier to solidify the happy, healthy life I want by blogging about things that make me happy because they reinforce the happy person I am.
But running away from negative feelings and not focusing on myself is part of the reason why I developed disordered eating habits and ended up obese and unhappy in the first place. So occasionally, I have to leave the happy current me and spend some time figuring out what went wrong and why the old me existed. So bare with me on this, and since this will turn into a series on why I became obese, just know I’ve got a lot of issues floating around in my head.
By now you already know that I’m an emotional eater. I’ve written about it before in length and even covered my history of emotional eating that explained a lot of the verbal and emotional abuse that led me to develop the eating habits to cope.
But I feel like I’ve never explained why. I’m not even sure I know why, but I want to write until I figure something out. If you feel like skipping this particular therapy session I seem determined on having, go read something better.
Why am I an emotional eater? A lot of people get teased, or abused, or hurt as a child or young adult. Most of them don’t turn to eating as a solution, but I did. I think in the beginning I did it because if reinforced what I was being teased about. I was being tortured for being “fat” and “an ugly cow” and whatnot, even though I wasn’t ridiculously huge. I might have been overweight but by no means did I deserve a teasing from my brothers for it. But because they teased me about that I turned to food. I guess I felt that if I did make myself fat I would be able to say, so what? I know! … And I eventually did say that. I used to say “I know” all the time. Like they weren’t telling me anything I didn’t know.
Eventually I guess the fact that food actually made me feel better kicked in. I realized that food made me calmer. I could be emotional and crazy and not want to think about all the bad things I had been called or called myself, so I’d focus on food. I’d think about eating and then make the food and then eat it. The whole process calmed me down and made me zone out to the fact that I felt miserable about what is happening. I didn’t necessary feel good about it or because of it, but I felt better. I didn’t have to think about the bad stuff – I just had to think about food. The calming affect of some carbs and sugar was a miracle drug for me as a young teen. I don’t think I realized the damage I was doing to my body, but I knew that eating something else would get me past the bad stuff I felt.
Once I realized this amazing effect of food, I used it whenever I wanted to feel better or escape. If I couldn’t physically escape the situation I know I could emotionally through the process of eating. So I ate, and ate, and ate whenever I was emotional. The funny thing was my emotional eating started as a reaction to feeling sad. But it soon because a reaction to any emotion I felt too strongly.
When I was sad, I ate. This made sense. But soon I ate because I was angry. If I was too angry without knowing what to do I would eat. At times it felt like a punishment to myself as well as the blissful zoning out, and I suppose on some level I felt if I couldn’t punish those who made me angry then I would punish myself. If I became lonely, I would eat. If I didn’t have friends, which for a few years in middle and high school I didn’t, then I ate to feel busy and less lonely. Basically it ended up that any single emotion I felt too much I would smother it with food. Food never made me feel good but it always made me forget the emotion I was trying to escape. And that in turn made me feel better.
With the knowledge that food would make me feel better in any strong emotional situation, I went through high school gaining more and more weight. I’ve learned that emotional eating is one of the hardest problems to break because in a way you will probably always do this. Almost every does it occasionally, which is fine as long as you are not doing it all the time like I was.
But emotional eating wasn’t the only reason I became obese. Not by a long shot. This will be the first post in a series about why I became obese that explains to you (and uncovers to me) the reasons why I gained so much extra weight. It wasn’t just one reason or one way of eating that caused my obesity and I would like to address them all and then eventually go on to explain how I am overcoming/dealing with them.