Combating Emotional Eating … Hmmm, No Thanks.

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?

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2 thoughts on “Combating Emotional Eating … Hmmm, No Thanks.

  1. I think what you are describing is pretty normal – I wouldn’t worry. Coming from the place you came from with disordered eating (as I did), this sounds pretty normal and generally healthy. I also still eat emotionally. Mostly for two reasons: a) stress at work. If I am feeling overwhelmed I get the urge to run down to the store, buy some sugar treat, and have it beside me while I stress the rest of the afternoon mindlessly eating junk and working. B) “relaxing” at home. Winding down and shaking off the stress of the day for a long time meant eating sugary treats ( tere I a pattern) so often my me time consisted of eating because I had a hard time giving myself a true break. I couldn’t justify it to myself. Those used to be full out binges. Now I certainly do catch myself with a bag of chocolate next to my computer on a stressful day but I won’t eat it until I am sick to my stomach. I may have a few then leave it there. Or some days I don’t make the trip to the store. Like yesterday. I told my administrator I was craving chocolate. I even said out loud, “it’s because I feel overwhelmed with the workload I have”. Then I didn’t go get any. And when she offered me what she had in her drawers I said no. I guess my point is everyone in this society emotionally eats. I’ve come to believe that it is extremely difficult to find a “normal” eater anywhere these days. I eat what I want, no rules, no berating. People are shocked I can have no rules to my eating and not be overweight but it is the no rules that got me here – I think. I think you just keep doing what you are doing and be aware of those times you may be emotionally eating more. There probably is a reason. Knowing the reason: what feelin are you ignoring- will help. You are going through a lot right now. Is it possible that eating things you may not always let yourself have in this frequency is your own way of getting through your emotions (possibly anxiety? – as it would be in my case) cause by all this change in your life right now? Nothing is worth beating ourselves up. I completely agree. Sorry this is a novel! I haven’t been reading as much any more as I was. Should say congrats on the pregnancy!!!

    1. Hi there and nice to see you here again 🙂 I appreciate you sharing your words and experiences. I know right now, it’s stress — of the unknown (potentially two mortgages looming, a new baby coming, moving, feeling the pull to spend more time at home …) I am able to pinpoint the cause of my anxiety/stress … but it isn’t stopping me from sometimes turning to emotional eating to cope. And thank you 🙂

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