I used to be one of those skinny kids that would have the metabolism of an oil rig and energy levels that still has my mother smirking when I recognize them in my now super-duper-active-run-here-and-there-one-year-old. This little hyper, skinny heaven continued into my twenties as I happily enjoyed beer fueled nights and the hangover junk food that followed.
However, after years of enjoying the emotional roller coaster that is living away from family and friends, being introduced to the trials and tribulations of mommy-hood, and all the other daily challenges we all face… it seemed my weight was coming along for the ride. My eating habits were reflected by my moods, and my moods in turn were scattered due to my eating habits (a pretty little loop which has been yo-yo-ing my weight continuously over the years).
I know it takes time, patience and a lot of hard work (oh yay), but like a lot of unhealthy habits, recognizing the stressors is the first step to setting up your new goals and finding ways to initially manage the cause of why you want to eating rather than the eating itself.
10 Signs you might just be an emotional eater:
1) You eat when you’re emotional…. yep. that was my first clue.
2) There are days when you will feel like a bottomless pit and will eat literally everything in your fridge (including a handful of grated Parmesan cheese and a half cut-up pineapple).
3) When you receive bad news or suddenly becomes stressed, you’re surprised that the first thought in your heads is wondering what the roast chicken in your fridge might taste like on some rye with mayo. Food becomes somewhat of an obsession.
4) You wake up feeling great, as you confidently strut your stuff (often naked… but at home.. stay reasonable) only to find yourself sobbing in the corner of your closet clutching your skinny jeans a mere few hours later. You have a very turbulent relationship with your own body and if you were friends on facebook it would state ‘It’s complicated’.
5) You get excited about any fad product that will help you tone up without giving up yummy food (says the person typing this post whilst her abs gets electronically zapped by her ‘Abtronix X2’). Note: Never watch daytime infomercials … just .. never.
6) You tend to eat when you’re bored even when you’re not hungry. You desire to eat tends to take on it’s own form and you find it hard to stop yourself (you even overeat).
7) Often you think you’re hungry, but you don’t necessarily want to eat just anything, but rather you prefer to eat one particular thing. This is a craving and not hunger (which can be brought on my emotions/stress)…. I have cheeseburgers flying around in my head all the live-long-day when I’m not feeling too hot.
8) You often don’t want people to know what you are really eating or feel guilty for eating. When you hide your food it perpetuates your belief that there’s something wrong with you. This often relates to the love/hate relationships with your body mentioned before.
9) Instead of seeing food as what it is (something you consume for survival), you turn it into something else. You become attached to it, give it emotions, and personify it. I’m not going around calling my bag of chips ‘George’ or anything, but a lot more focus is placed on the food and how it makes you feel rather than what it is supposed to do (fuel you).
10) Just like food is there to comfort you in need and bad times, you also see food as a reward or treat during good times. Emotional eating involved all emotions, the good and the bad.
Tips on breaking down some of the first bricks of the emotional eating wall
1) Don’t kick yourself every time you overeat. Making yourself feel guilty will only add to your stress and .. you guessed it… cause more emotional eating. When you’ve fallen off the wagon, try and recognize the stressors that lead to the eating and how you could avoid them or manage them differently next time.
2) Take a break before giving into the urge to eat. If you challenge yourself to hold off on grabbing that stick of cheese for 15 minutes might give you a sense of control. Sure, you might eat it anyway, but you held off for 15 minutes which was better than last time.
3) I’m no advocate for self-torture or anything, but sometimes wearing a rubber band around your wrist, and flicking it whenever you reach for the fridge, can help you become more mindful of your behavior and can help you intervene by assessing what’s going for you at that moment. (Helps with breaking any habit really).
4) Replace your emotional eating with a ‘quick fix’ that will keep your mind off it and place focus on something else. You can write down a list of things you enjoy as a quick fix (e.g.: making a cup of tea, quick breathing exercise etc).
5) Practice makes perfect!! Keep practicing the tools you’ve set up to help with you emotional eating, and even with a few failures and bumps along the way, you will become more aware and in control of your own eating habits.
My name is Stefanie and I’m an emotional eater… (*burp*)