Weight Loss Support - Food as an emotional crutch.

View Full Version : Food as an emotional crutch.

07-30-2009, 09:01 AM
ok so I have a problem with using food as an emotional crutch. When i'm sad or irritated i turn to food to make me feel better, and it never does, and i just end up feeling worse about myself and guilty that i faltered.

I dont know i do it and i dont want to do it but my wilpower always breaks and i hate it.

like this morning this lady cut me off and hit my car on the way to work and we got in this huge screaming match in the street cause shes an idiot, but then i was so upset that i couldn't stop myself from getting a bacon, eggs and cheese breafast bagel :( now my stomach and body feels gross from eating it.

I dont know how to break this habit. I need something else to replace that emotional urge.

does anyone else have this problem? how do you handle it?

07-30-2009, 09:19 AM
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that MOST people here have that problem! ;) You dont get to the weights that we have just bcos you like food . . .

For me, living in the moment is helpful. Being conscious of why I am reaching out for food when I have issues that food cannot fix (ie, if its not about hunger then food is NOT the answer).

I actually dont believe that you necessarily need to know WHY you are doing this to stop he behaviour at the start . Eventually I do think that you need to work it out and the less you do it the more you actually do start to realise why you used to do it - I dont know how that works but its happened to me and a number of people I know - like when you are not numb with food you start to seeeeee things clearly.

Part of the reason that we do this is that its habitual behaviour so you DO need to find something else to do when the urge comes.

I had a horrible incident a few weeks ago at work and on the way home thought about pizza the whole way. But I didnt oder any. I came home turned the computer on and emailed some friends who I knew would understand and got it all out. I felt AMAZINGLY better just doing that and the need went. I was still angry mind you but I was now comfortable with the emotion and didnt need food to soothe me.

Journalling helps if you can catch yourself in that moment.

So the next time you go to reach for food when its not a hunger related problem ask yourself - are you stressed, angry, tired (obviously in the above example you know what set you off), are you anxious, are you bored, did you see a TV ad that made you want chips?

You need to be conscious and mindful of the choicces you are making so that you can then make a DIFFERENT choice ie. have a hot bath or shower to calm you . . . listen to music that lifts your energy, call someone positive, go for a walk, scream if you need to, acknowledge the feeling - sometimes just saying - I am feeling out of control and I dont know what to do seems to calm me.

You have to make that choice and you need to find what motivates you and things that YOU enjoy (and are not compatible with the act of eating!).

And it becomes easier with time.

I know you can do it :) We all can.

Lori Bell
07-30-2009, 09:44 AM
That will teach that lady to never cut you off again! You sure showed her!

Do you think you would have totally passed up the breakfast bagel if you would not have been in an accident? I don't know, but I didn't use food as an emotional crush as much as I looked for excuses to over eat. Any excuse would do...

07-30-2009, 10:16 AM

I completely understand. It was here on 3FC where I learned about emotional eating and it was such an eye opener. I never gave it much thought before. But soon, I learned to realize that when I frustrated, when I am angry or even when I am happy I have this huge urge to eat (and it usually meant parking myself at McD's or Pizza Pizza), or maybe grabbing a container of Haagen Dazs and not letting go until it was completely empty. It takes time and a lot of strong will to reign such urges but you will there, don't worry! Don't beat yourself about it and make sure you eat clean for the rest of the day (and of course tomorrow, the day after tomorrow etc.).

BTW, welcome to 3FC!

Thighs Be Gone
07-30-2009, 10:21 AM
Yes, I completely DO get it and have done it many, many times. Conciously and deliberately, I started taking baby steps to stop myself. I found other things to do instead. So basically, I "replaced" the habit. Some ideas that worked for me was cleaning my house for a while, calling someone, watching TV instead or getting out a book I had been meaning to read.

One thing is for certain--if hunger isn't the problem, food isn't gonna fix it. In fact, it is just going to intensify the issue. I would remind myself of that often.

Sorry about the car incident. Good for you to come here and look for some answers. I know you can do this thing.

07-30-2009, 10:29 AM
one little tip that I have done - I put a sticker on my credit card & debit card that reads THINK. I put a sticker on my wallet near my cash that says COURAGE. They make me pause and re-evaluate if I really want the snack I'm about to purchase. Just that one tiny reminder helps a ton.

07-30-2009, 10:31 AM
Liz that's a great idea!

07-30-2009, 10:36 AM
Thanks so much ladies.

I always have this front that I'm a tough cookie and the little things don't bother me when in reality I think they eat at me more then a big problem.

Liz I love that idea and I may just have to steal it.

i guess it just seems so heartbreaking to me becuase I'm just starting to try and get this weight off and I know its not going to happen over night and I've been doing really well with food for the most part and I'm just disapointed in myself with how easily it was for me to fall back to old habits.

07-30-2009, 10:56 AM
It's certainly a difficult thing to deal with. I succumbed to it the other day. I found out that my computer still wouldn't be fixed after a technician came out for a second time to fix it, and 5 days of waiting. I was on track for the morning and afternoon, but the stress of it all was just too much, and I was so frustrated! I use my computer so much, including help staying on track with my eating and working out, so it was a major blow. That night, I ate everything in sight. On the plus side, it was all junk that was leftover from before I had started eating healthy, so now it's all gone! :)

Next time I get stressed (and it will happen, no doubt about that) I just have to do my best to say no to the food. And if I do give in, I have to get right back on track the next day, or that day if I realize it soon enough. That's what I did last week, and I still lost weight. Everyone here will tell you, slipping up is normal, its how you react afterwards that matters the most. We have to be able to not beat ourselves up about it and get back on the horse/wagon/etc right away.

07-30-2009, 10:59 AM
Yes, it is easy to slide back into old habits, but the more you practice the new ones, the easier it becomes to make them permanent. You might be interested in the book Beck's Diet Solution. I is not a diet but a book that works with any diet to retrain your brain to support your new goals. Cognitive Behavior Training. There is a later one that includes a diet plan but I think the other one is better. I have it on DVD and I did the workbook. It is very helpful on the whys we do what we do and how to replace them with good behaviors.

07-30-2009, 11:23 AM
Stop telling yourself that you CAN'T stop the emotional eating. It's as if you're giving yourself permission TO. Of course you can stop eating. No one is forcing that food into your mouth. You've got to come to that conclusion IMO before you can go any further. You can't change what you don't acknowledge. Call it what it is and take steps to change it. Start requiring more from yourself.

Start journaling your food - you bite it, you write it. No ifs ands or buts. Count your calories, your points, your proteins, your something. Just don't leave yourself open-ended. Become accountable to yourself.

Decide what it is you want the MOST and go out there and get it. Get excited. Get moving. Get busy. Get Honest. Get committed. Get a plan - and then execute the heck out of it.

Losing weight and lots of it is a doable thing. That every one and any one is more then capable of. Yourself included. Know that. Start telling yourself that even if you don't believe it. I can do this. I can do this. I CAN do this. And before you know it - you will be doing it. :)

07-30-2009, 11:26 AM
That will teach that lady to never cut you off again! You sure showed her!

Do you think you would have totally passed up the breakfast bagel if you would not have been in an accident? I don't know, but I didn't use food as an emotional crush as much as I looked for excuses to over eat. Any excuse would do...

Talk about being brutally honest. Lori, you sure got me thinking on this one. I never thought of it this way.

I think you're on to something.........

07-30-2009, 11:54 AM
You know, I really identify with your situation. I am new also to this site and this is my umpteenth time trying to lose weight. But this time around I'm getting some new insights and really working on changing my lifestyle instead of pursuing a smaller size.

I had a double whammy of a weekend and the first thing I wanted to do was stuff my face. But, I had an epiphany (sort of along the lines of Lori Bell). I was able to say to myself, 'Why should I punish my body just because I am aggravated at someone else.'

Overeating punishes my body, not the person who is acting like an @$$. I am going to try very hard to remember that each and every time I want to turn to food for comfort.


07-30-2009, 12:22 PM
I also used food as an emotional clutch, I mean when I'm down the first thing I do is go and buy loads of food, sit in my room eating till I stop caring! But then again I do think I'm the kind of person who would go to any means to eat. There were days where I

I think the worst bit for me , is that my journey is not going to be a 10lb loss that will take a month or two. So it's easy for me to just pick up food again and eventually put more weight on & feel even worse at some point because I gave in to temptation. It's all to do with my mindset and the fact that I doubt my own willpower, strength and determination & don't feel I can make it through the journey.
I guess the way I'm doing it right now is comparing my emotions . What's worse :
a) Feeling emotional/angry/hurt and dealing with those emotions without food.
b) Trying to ignore and compensate for problems in your life by eating and eventually putting on weight and making your journey to your 'ideal body' longer?

LIZ : I love that idea and might have to steal it too :)

07-30-2009, 01:28 PM
lol..on Lori's post. Yeah, how is the upset tummy, making that lady feel bad for what she did. Think this way. Ok, someone tried to ruin my day whether on accident or purpose. I'm going to show them, by HAVING A GOOD day despite all that.

07-30-2009, 02:56 PM
Yep, :wave: emotional eater, right here. The only way I could stop it was to stop eating junk all together. It sounds drastic, but I was willing, and it's actually very freeing rather than restrictive. I just couldn't get away from "comfort food" by trying to eat it in moderation. Had to ban it. Good luck, I'm sure you will be able to find a solution that works for you.

07-30-2009, 06:33 PM
I have a few thoughts for you:

1. This might be a baby step sort of thing. The next time that happens, what if you at LEAST make a good/better/best choice in the situation. So for example this morning might have been good: No cheese on the sandwich; better: No cheese or meat; best: something from a restaurant but a healthier choice, maybe a yogurt parfait or something along those lines.

2. In a similar vein: You might explore to see if there are some 'no-damage' alternatives. Would've a nonfat latte done the same thing with waaaay lower calorie implications? Would you be able to have a big bunch of grapes or berries that would take you a while to eat but give you the release of doing something else?

In terms of the 2 above, I totally agree that you want to get away from using food in these situations but it's worth trying to minimize the damage when things just don't work out that way.


i guess it just seems so heartbreaking to me becuase I'm just starting to try and get this weight off and I know its not going to happen over night and I've been doing really well with food for the most part and I'm just disapointed in myself with how easily it was for me to fall back to old habits.
This is just one of MANY different situations you'll have to build your skill set to manage and you're going to find them throughout the journey. Allow yourself the opportunity to learn and don't get all heartbroken when you don't do it right the first time (or many times). You did a great thing by simply identifying what was going on and coming here for support. It is not falling into old habits so much as not having all the new habits in place. It's not all-or-none. Give yourself time and room to get things worked out.

Big hugs and sorry about the car. Rotten way to start a day.