Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I am an emotional eater, there I said it.

When to eat and what to eat, used to be two questions I always had on my mind.  I would see a Godiva shop and splurge on a box of 16 truffles and eat them all in one sitting.  I would order a large pizza and eat the whole large pie over the course of a few hours.  If we went to taco bell or McDonalds I would order food for 5 people, only it would all end up being eaten by me.  A half gallon of ice cream, yup I’ve eaten that too.

I used to be able to eat this entire sundae alone, now I share it with my Sweetie as a treat!

Did I do this because I was hungry?  No, I did it because I was lonely, sad, bored and would often become disgusted with myself afterwards.  I needed something I could control and  I ate to fill the void of everything missing in my life.  I felt if I was never going to change anyway why not just eat, at least I'll enjoy it for a little while.  I didn’t own a scale and didn’t want to.  I didn’t want to know how much I weighed, the thought scared me.  I avoided having my picture taken at all costs, because I didn’t want to see the result of what years of overeating did to me.  If it was fried, chocolaty, and sugary or full of cheese it would be on my plate.

An entire sandwich from Katz's Deli was something I probably could have finished, but I was stuffed after just half!

I would often just sit in front of the tv and eat.  I craved ice cream, chocolate, cheeseburgers and pizza.  Everything that was bad for you and I didn't just eat these foods rarely, I ate them daily.  Often I would eat these foods in copious amounts, because I never felt full or satisfied with my meal.  Even though after eating I would feel guilty putting all that food in my body, but the self loathing would only make me feel worse and want to eat more.  I knew it was wrong to eat so much, but I couldn’t stop.  Honestly, I didn't want to.  If I felt sad or stressed I ate.  I’d get comments about having a pretty face, if only I lost the weight.  I could only shop at plus size shops, I often dreamed of walking into a Gap and buying something off the rack.  When I saw myself fitting in a size 24 that was my breaking point, I didn’t want to do this to myself anymore. 

But, how could I stop?  How could I begin to get healthy?  The first step was wanting to do it.  I first started slowly integrating exercise in my daily routine.  I bought dvd’s and would walk.  Getting my eating habits under control was still very hard.  When I would overeat I would stop working out because it seemed like it was a never ending cycle.  When I first started I expected quick results, I wanted to be healthy and fit.  I wanted there to be some miracle for what I had done to my body. For someone to come and wiggle their nose and make all the fat go away.

I soon learned there is no miracle, no magical genie with 3 wishes.  There is only hard work and patience.   Overtime I saw the weight coming off and I would get excited, but then I’d fall back into my old pattern of eating too much.  I would convince myself that it was okay, I was working out right so I could eat more. I decided to purchase a scale and keep track of my weight loss.  This began my battle with the scale.  I would get discouraged when the numbers jumped and excited with then fell.  It was a roller coaster relationship that would often drive me back to my ice cream when the numbers weren't where I felt they should be.  It wasn’t until I started running that I realized I needed to make sure I eating the proper foods and not just eating to fill a void.  I needed to figure out what hunger was. 

Here's a tip or two I learned along the way.  If begin to crave a food; STOP and think about and I mean really think about it.  Are you craving the food because your hungry or because your feel you need to have it to make you feel better or maybe your bored.  First you need to start distinguishing between your wanting foods because they make you feel better and needing food because your hungry.  If your not hungry get a glass of water and drink, maybe your cravings are you just being thirsty.  Sure it's not that fudgy brownie or those few scoops of ice cream, but are you really hungry for those things?  I've also stopped and written down how I was feeling when I began to think of cookies, brownies and ice cream.  BUT, do not and I repeat do not deny yourself of these foods, that will more often than not lead you down the same road of just feeding your emotions.  Learning moderation is key.  Fitting foods into two groups will help a lot.  You should have your everyday foods (whole grains, proteins, veggies and fruits; keeping the processed food to an absolute minimum) and your occasional foods (like ice cream, candy, cookies and brownies).

Learning to use substitutes like honey, agave syrup or even maple syrup in place of sugar is also a good habit to start.  I personally do not like artificial sweeteners and feel they aren't exactly the best for your body either, others feel the opposite and use these quite regularly in place of sugar.  But whatever you choose, learning to make healthier choices should be thought number one when picking a meal.  You have to start to really look and think about what your eating and not just shoveling the food in your face.  Once you do this, your on your way to stop feeding your emotions and start feeding your hunger.

It’s not easy and it never will be.  You have to want to do make the right choices and you have to want this for yourself.  You have to want to put in the hard work the long hard road to healthy takes.  The world is full of trigger foods.  I know what mine are and do my best to avoid them.  Learn what your trigger foods are and keep a list.  Treat yourself at least once a month (more or less depending on how active you are or how much self control you have).  I treat myself so that I don't feel deprived, but this is maybe a once a month thing for me.  Sometimes I'll have a treat one day on the weekend.  I try my best to keep the treats to a minimum (it's not always easy).  The foods I listed above are not my everyday foods as they once were.  Often I am asked what diet I am on, and I always reply I am not on a diet I just changed my eating habits to eat healthier options. I cook more and eat more whole foods and less processed.  Meaning my oven actually gets turned on more than a few times a month and the microwave is no longer used for heating a frozen meal.   

I have noticed a difference not only in the way I feel, but also in my energy levels.  I am still ever changing my relationship with food and I take it one day at a time.  But, it is no longer this guilt ridden bowl of ice cream I eat alone.  It’s a plate of veggies with brown rice and chicken or bowl of whole wheat pasta with veggies and sauce the night before a long run.  Food is still something I still have control over, only now I choose the best options available within my budget and the best options for my body.  Overcoming Emotional Eating will be a journey I will always be on, but one I am happy to take to be the healthiest me I can be!

I know longer miss the ice cream!  I make frozen banana nice cream instead w/ a teaspoon of honey and peanut butter so freaking YUMMY!!!!

What are some of your trigger foods?


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  2. Thats good you saw that you need to work at losing weight. There are all these fad diets out there that may or may not work for you. One thing you can be sure that will work is just plain old working out.

    As for my trigger food, it has to be Gummi Bears. Not really a food I know, but I can't have these around. I get a bag and its like I can't control myself and just keep eating them.

    Taco Bell is another thing. I can't go there and just order one thing. I always get a few things and even though I know I might not finish it, I will save it for later. I guess because its a combination of it being so rare that I eat there that when I do I just order alot because who knows when I will go there again and also because if I order one thing I won't get full.

    Burgers are another one. I just plain like them. The good thing about all these things is that its pretty rare when I eat them. I used to eat them a couple times a week. I would be at work and sometimes I would get there hungry, and even though I had food in my backpack, I would get something to eat at the beginning of the shift. Not good, and I gained weight to the point where I started working out to lose it. Now I eat at home before work and its definitely healthier.

    Edit: sorry about removing the comment. Its pretty much the same thing but I saw some typos lol.

  3. No more 10 lbs worth of gummi bears for you :P

    And that's awesome you were able to stick with it and eat healthier and more consistently! And yay now you get to try all my healthy recipes that no one else will eat lol :)