Before I jump into today’s topic, let me say I will not normally be updating this blog every day, but I wanted to give you some content to read and to know the direction I will be going with it.
So on to today’s topic – Emotional Eating.
This has been and continues to be my biggest struggle. Even now, if I have a bad day for whatever reason, I say to my wife that “I want a big bowl of something I shouldn’t have”. The big difference now is that I can say it but don’t have to act on it.
As a kid, I got picked on a lot for being fat. When I would go home upset about it, my mom (bless her well-meaning heart) would say “Oh, you had a bad day? Here, have a cookie.” If I had a great day at school, like a good mark on a test, I would tell my mom and she would say “Oh good for you! Here have a cookie”.
The problem developed that good or bad – emotions made me want to eat, not to mention the vicious circle of the more I ate, the fatter I got, so the more I got picked on, which made me want to eat more and..well you get the idea, and I am sure some of you have been there.
There is a really difficult cycle when it comes to emotional eating that is very hard to break. I found the following illustration online that kind of sums it up.
You have a rough day, or some emotional upset, so you eat – probably more than you should. Then you feel shame, guilt and/or remorse for the overeating, so you eat even more, which makes you feel bad and the cycle goes merrily on.
The trick to breaking this cycle is to ask yourself WHY am I eating? Am I really hungry or am I angry, sad, lonely, or bored? Boredom can be an emotion too. Here is a tip – ask yourself Am I hungry enough to eat an Apple or some other healthy thing. If the answer is no, then you really aren’t that hungry.
Acknowledge your feelings. Someone said something mean to you. Talk it out with someone or even with yourself. Let yourself feel the emotion. “Boy I did not like what they said. That was mean.” or whatever.
One thing I do if I am really upset or angry is to do something physical. Last year, my wife bought me a standup punching bag and gloves. I really helps to punch that old bag. I even sometimes visualize the person’s face that I am upset with on the bag. Hey – better to punch a bag than another person and it is better than beating myself up.
I would like to use a recent example of an emotional time for me. This isn’t meant to drum up sympathy but just as an illustration. In November of 2014, my Dad had a massive stroke. My mother called to say things did not look good. Right away there was the temptation to bury my head in the fridge, but I talked it out with my wife.
A few days later my Dad passed away, and again, I wanted a big bowl of something bad, but I held off. The problem was I didn’t really talk that out. I stuffed that emotion down. I didn’t eat, but I didn’t talk. About a week or so later, we were watching an upset of one of my favourite shows NCIS in which one of the characters is seen through out the episode writing a letter to his Dad. Turns out he was actually on his way to his Dad’s funeral and was writing a eulogy. The scene cuts to him reading the last part of the letter to his Dad as he lay in a coffin. When he said Goodbye Dad – I lost it. It all came tumbling out and I thought someone had ripped my heart out of my chest.
Because my wife was there, and I could talk to her about it, and how I felt, it prevented me from going and gorging – which is how I would have handled it in the past.
Remember – there is nothing wrong with emotions. They are a good thing to have unless you are Vulcan. (That was for my fellow Star Trek fans). Just don’t let emotions lead you into that vicious cycle of eating and regretting.
Next time – my thoughts on Fad Diets and those who make money off people’s desperation.