P.S. Iím an Emotional Eater
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I wish I could say everything is rosy and I have stopped using food to manage my feelings. I haven't stopped, but I am doing it less and less. I realize that the more aware I am of when and why I eat, the easier it gets. I've been doing a lot of thinking about this and realized that I don't eat because I am hungry, I eat because I feel crummy. In fact, I don't even know when I am hungry.
Over the past couple of weeks, I really paid attention to what I thought were hunger signals. I was able to figure out that some of these signals were uncomfortable feelings and some were real hunger – I get them when I don't eat for hours and hours. I decided to try to eat only when I am truly hungry and to stop eating just before I feel full. It works. I am eating less and enjoying it more. I lost weight last week and I wasn't even dieting.
But there are still those emotional benders. I decided to try something different this week. I started to walk. Thought it would help. It didn't. I also had an argument with my sister and I felt just like I did when I was a child. She won the argument and I felt helpless. I knew I could count on food and boy did I go at it.
Maybe this isn’t really working.
I was wrong about walking. It does work, but it takes time. I also realized that using food to manage my feelings has been going on for years and years. There are different feelings, situations, people that set off my emotional overeating. I'm going to pay attention to these triggers and do something else when they strike - instead of eating. After all, the feelings are still there after I eat anyway, and so is some extra weight.
I also figured out that it's not enough to just stop using food to soothe myself – I need to understand and manage my emotions. The more I write, the clearer it becomes. I know if I want a permanent solution, I need to find ways to fulfill myself. Food won't do that for me. I need to do it for myself. I'll really think about this one.
My best friend, also an EE, told me that I could think better if my mind was relaxed. How the heck do you relax your mind? I asked her. She said you can relax or calm your mind just by relaxing your body. She said deep breathing, mediation and yoga are tried and true methods to unwind your body and your mind. I'll try it this week.
Feeling much better about myself.
This week had some highs and some lows. I did some deep breathing and relaxation. It really did help. I am still taking my watercolour classes and doing a lot of walking. It all really helps. I figured out with all the walking, deep breathing and painting, I don't have enough time to eat too much. Just kidding. But, I really do feel better when I figure out ways to help myself.
P.S. I know you are reading and paying attention, and I do intend to keep writing in my diary, but I want to send my next letter to other emotional eaters.
I want to tell you that part of being human is having feelings and so is eating. It's when we connect the two that we get in trouble. I know that food has always comforted us and soothed us. Heck, when we were infants, weren't we fed and rocked simultaneously? Didn't we celebrate holidays and birthdays and good times with food? I even remember being offered biscuits every time I was cranky. Its no wonder we've come to the conclusion, albeit an unconscious one, that food makes us feel better.
But, take it from me it really doesn't help in the long run. This is what has been working for me - maybe it can help you too:
In a nutshell: I have had to adjust my attitude, realizing that my thinking can help or hurt me; I am now more involved with life; I’ve found activities that add meaning to my life; I take better care of my body; I build in time to have some fun, to exercise, and to take a few minutes each day to relax and just smell the roses. My big attitude change: I have what it takes to make the changes to turn around my emotional overeating. It’s not easy, but what's the alternative?
I pay attention to that defining moment when I decide to eat. I know that the associations I have made between food and comfort are largely unconscious, but the actual decision to eat is a conscious choice. There is always an all-important deciding moment. At that moment of decision, I can stop, think and choose, instead of eating impulsively.
Right now I think I might always have the tendency to reach for food when the going gets rough. After all, I have been doing it for years and years. I just have to pay attention to make sure I don't use food as my drug to deaden feelings.
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Last updated: July 27th, 2006
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