Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eating Emotionally

That is, eating to cover up emotions, to deal with emotions.
It is NOT eating with emotion and gusto.

In conversation with a friend today. We discussed many things. One of which was emotional eating.

Now, eating ice cream or chocolate when sad or angry almost seems acceptable amongst my circle of friends. I mean, we all do this at some time or other. We joke about it. We share Facebook comments about our comfort foods. We laugh at how emotional eating is portrayed in movies. Harmless. Fun. An occasional lapse.

For some of us, this emotional eating is not so harmless.

It is how we live.

I live like this.

I am getting better. As I confessed to my friend, at least now I recognise that I am comfort eating. As I stand at the kitchen counter, eating, I now know why.

Before, I just ate. And ate. When angry. Or sad.

Now, I probably still eat and eat but nowadays, as I wolf down another handful of Cheezels or Peanut M &Ms or...as I swallow, I realise what I am doing.

I realise and feel, really feel, the hole inside, something aching. I realise that I am eating to fill that hole. Even though eating doesn't really help . Or maybe it does..you eat until stuffed so now you feel sick and thus unable to feel that scary emotion.

Is this a step towards recovery from emotional eating? This is what my friend and I talked about. Is there some multi step programme for overcoming eating, working from within?

Step One - you just eat when sad.

Step Two, you still eat but you realise why you eat.

Step Three, you eat, you realise you are eating when sad or lonely or angry and you let yourself pause, for a minute, to feel that ache, that gap. Then return to eating, to stuffing oneself silly with food.

Step Four. I don't know. I am not there yet. Having only recently reached Step Three.

Maybe the next steps involve eating less. Or not comfort eating At All?

Or maybe that is too much to expect!

Hi, I am Leonie. I was, I am, I probably always will be a comfort eater.

Totally Britney.


Marie said...

Step four: you write a blog post about your journey, taking the struggle beyond your growing internal awareness and sharing it with those who care about you.

And always the question remains: where will I find what makes me happy for longer than this?

Leonie said...

Marie, you are right. Blogging, talking, sharing IS Step Four. I'm there! And to answer the question..intellectually, spiritually, internally I know I find answer in prayer, in the sacraments but in that moment of pain, food also helps. My faith makes me happy longer than food and yet I also still reach for food.

Ouch, too much to think about on a busy day! Thanks for your insight.

Chris said...

Hi, I'm Chris and I comfort eat. Man I must need comforting on a daily basis.

Leonie said...

You know my friend Gaye? She sent me a message with some really good thoughts about this..of course, the message made me cry! Gosh, I'm turning into a weeping woman! I will share it with you, Chris..it made me think that there may be some unsolved issues that I have that make me seek food, it is not just bcos of food itself...maybe its the same for others too?

Heather - Doodle Acres said...

I think that the next step is that you stand staring into your refrigerator for 5 minutes or so AND then decide it's not worth it at least a small percentage of the time.

I have certainly not conquered this completely. However, I find that exercise helps me to deal with that "pain" that leads to eating. And even if I can't exercise at that moment, I try to think about all the work I did at my last workout and whether this emotional binge is really worth undoing all that hard work.

Cindy said...

So true, Leonie and very insightful.

Isn't it strange, too, how faith and all is waht makes us truly happy, but when we are in that state we (I mean I)- don't connect with that.... I still reach.

Then later, during prayer or when I am connected I wonder why I didn't pray first?

Being human is so hard sometimes.
But you know food does make me feel better sometimes. Someteims I really was hungry or my blood sugar must have been low.. but then I go too far.

I find I need a way to relax, esp at the end of the day. I don't really watch TV, etc... I do work out, but then just to 'unplug'--- if I have a glass of wine.. then oops, suddenly my judgement goes away and then I eat, too!

Will this insanity never end? lol

Leonie said...

Cindy, I don't know if it will ever end. I workout, I eat healthy most of the time, I pray, I try to deal with emotions, I know intellectually the right thing to do..but, as you said, I still reach for food. Thinking it will be a lifelong issue for me..there is no panacea, no one answer, just one or two steps forward and probably also one or two steps back.

Heather, I understand what you are saying about staring in the fridge and then realising that it is not worth it..the trouble for me is that, in part, it is worth it. Worthy the pleasure, the not having to think or feel. Ack! I have issues for sure! lol~

Lois said...

I am with you on the emotional eating. Funny, but mine usually takes place in the morning or early afternoon. I turned to my good friend Mr. M&M this morning for some comfort! I stopped at a handful. But....have been thinking about the rest of the bag all day.

I know that God should be enough. But....

Leonie said...

Oh, Lois,peanut M&Ms..my big time comfort food! And, yes, intellectually we know but still we eat. Hugs!

sarah said...

What about eating fruit when needing comfort?

Most of the time, I can talk myself out of comfort eating, but when I feel really desperate, I reach for an apple or nectarine. Or perhaps a cup of tea. The trick is to have healthy food at hand.

Christine Robertson said...

My name is Christine and I am an emotional eater. I have been since I left home. Before that, I watched my mum eat to self soothe. Sometimes I eat for a quick energy fix and sometimes I blur the lines between the two. I can postpone the eating - by doing or reading or, if brave, even sitting with the emotions, but I never lose the need for the chocolate. Eventually, I give in.