It shouldn’t surprise anyone — as I’ve discussed it here before on numerous occasions — but for as far as I’ve come in my journey and relationship with food, I’m still an emotional eater. Yes, I just admitted that. That issue hasn’t gone away.
The difference is now, I just manage it better … i.e., I move on. I don’t over-exercise to compensate, I don’t restrict to compensate, I don’t berate myself to compensate, and I don’t talk about food incessantly to compensate.
These are all the [unhealthy] coping mechanisms of the past. The coping mechanism of the present is, shamefully/proudly … acceptance. I am an emotional eater. I’m not a binger. I’m not a purger. I’m not a restricter. I’m just someone who, if happy/sad/anxious … celebrates and self-medicates with food. And when I emotionally eat, I journal it, and that’s that.
We all know it’s the little things that add up: the impulse chocolate buy, snatching some of Luis’s fries, making the suggestion we go for fro-yo when I know I don’t technically “need it” …
But here’s the rub: I don’t want to stop.
You see, I know what I’m doing when I’m doing it. But that knowledge alone isn’t enough of a reason to stop. In fact, I like the freedom I have to live and let live. It’s not just because I’m pregnant and obviously am on a weight-gain mission for nine months. It’s more that I’m working out the same as pre-pregnancy, eating more (not a ton, but def. the couple extra hundred calories a day I should be eating in the second trimester) and — miracle of miracles — I’m not gaining like crazy. Gaining, yes, but as I should be … not like crazy (always a legitimate fear). In other words, my body is at a point of near-equilibrium where I can “afford” some wiggle room.
This “balance” surely doesn’t mean throw healthy eating and fitness out the window — I definitely feel better when I work out and make better choices. But it also is good, living proof for me that those emotional outbursts where I turn to food–for better or for worse — and used to beat myself up for them aren’t necessarily a terrible thing. Beating myself up was probably far more dangerous, in retrospect. Self-loathing is not a good thing under any circumstances.
I’m sure any therapist or dietician out there would tell me I’m crazy, that emotional eating is bad, it’s filling a void for something else, it can cause weight gain … and maybe that’s all true. But I don’t see it that way anymore. For me, it isn’t all bad. Especially when it comes to celebratory emotional eating. Right now, anything feels like a celebration. I got up and worked out — latte time! I finished a work assignment early. Who wants to go out for lunch!? And when I feel stressed and turn to food … and that happens a lot (especially now: selling one house, packing, moving, and almost 19 weeks pregnant!) …I try to sit with it for a minute and then, if I’m going to buy/eat whatever it is … I move on. I eat better at the next meal (isn’t that what “normal people” do anyway?!).
After all, tomorrow is a new day. And until we’re no longer here, there’s always an opportunity for a fresh start.
How about you? Are you an emotional eater? Have any coping mechanism worked for you? Or have you made peace with your emotional eating, too?