Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Stress and Emotional Eating

It seems like the last couple of days I've been bombarded with stress. And wow is this a bad time for me to try and deal with it. I'm already an emotional wreck due to TOM. I was talking with my husband last night and just broke down crying. We were discussing the source of our recent stress and I just couldn't hold it in.

Now I know a good cry is beneficial now and then, so that doesn't bother me. What does concern me is my seemingly built-in need to eat when I feel this way. Emotional eating will be something I battle the rest of my life. Despite the things I've read, the advice I've been given, and the techniques I've tried, it's still an issue. Of course there are always those who have no clue what you are talking about, and love to hand out advice about it as if they were the expert on such matters. Don't you just love it when someone says "Well just don't eat!"? Well now, why didn't I think of that? Surely it's as simple as you make it sound. (insert sarcastic eye roll here)

I've found the only thing that will get me though times like these are what I call distraction tactics. I have to get my mind off of food and my emotions. If I can focus on other things and stay busy until the craving passes, I can keep myself afloat. If I don't find a successful distraction - I sink right to the bottom.. and usually that bottom is a McDonald's french fry sack. Several minutes later I wake up from a carb-induced trance, berating myself for what I've just done. Then the emotions get stirred and it starts all over again.

It's taking me some time to learn my triggers, and the methods of distraction that work for me, but I'm getting there. Last night I wanted to eat, even though I knew I wasn't hungry. Instead I picked up a book I've been reading and became engrossed in the written page. It wasn't long until I'd forgotten about eating. For a short while I wasn't a mother who's struggling to guide her children, a wife who is trying to encourage her husband and help make major life decisions. For those few chapters I was able to look through the eyes of the author and see issues far worse than my own. And while I'm not the type of person that takes pleasure in seeing others who are less fortunate (it breaks my heart!), I certainly put my book down realizing my problems weren't so big after all.

Were my issues and emotions still there after I put down the book? Yep. But by then the urge to eat had subsided and I could think clearly. I knew that if I would have given in to emotional eating, I would have started a cycle that's tough to break.

While I may not have won the war, last night I won a battle. And I intend to beat this thing in that very way - one battle at time.


TESS said...

I really believe stress/emotion eating is a problem all overweight people have. No one can give you advice because we all react differently. I am more of a bordom eater and that is just as bad, I think you are handleing it perfectly for you and know that there are those of us who daily go through the same thing that are behind you 100%. If it hits you at a time when you can, take a long soak in the tub. It is real hard to eat from the tub and by the time you get out and dry off the urge is gone. Good Luck!

Fat Victoria said...

Yay for you!

BamaGal said...

I'm a severe emotional eater---by the way Tess--boredom is an emotion too---but anyway---having suffered from bulemia and binge eating for 30 yrs the only way for me to deal with the emotional eating---or head hunger--as we call it in WLS circles is to feed it---but I have changed how I feed it. It used to be sugary or high carb stuff like pasta or potatoes---the old comfort foods tied to my childhood. They make you feel better for a little while---but then you get to the point where you have to eat more and more to get the same "high".
Now when head hunger strikes I reach for eggs,olives, pickles or even turkey. The tryptophan in the turkey and eggs is a natural tranquilizer---so the carb cravings are held at bay.
Any technique you find is a positive one--as long as it works for you.
And contrary to what alot of people think food--especially carbs are addictive--which only makes the emotional eating worse...
Good luck to you as you fight these demons....you are not alone in the fight either...

Sparky's Girl said...

Thank you for your encouragement and suggestions!

I never got to take that long soak in the tub Tess.. got busy with the kids and well, you know how it goes.

Bama, I think I'm afraid to "feed it" as you say. Even if it's low carb foods. Maybe that's a fear I'll overcome, especially as I get closer to goal, and be able to deal with. But mentally I battle the idea of eating when I'm not really hungry. I have no problem eating when I know it's real hunger. I'm sure there will be times when I give in, and it will only be healthy foods when that happens.

You are exactly right about carbs being addictive. I've been trying to tell people that for the last several years. It's funny how people don't believe you until they break the addiction themselves - then they see it. LOL

Cindy said...

Emotional eating, in my opinion, is the worst to break. Anytime you resist is a great thing!