100 lb. Club - compulsive/emotional eating

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09-09-2005, 10:40 AM
I was wondering how many of you would consider yourself to have trouble with compulsive eating, binge eating or just plan emotional eating. If so what are some of the tips you have learned to deal with these issues? Can you recommend any good books on the topic that you have found helpful?

I know for myself there is a large emotional component in my weight problem. I really tend to binge when I am under stress. I have notice recently that much of this stress is internally generated. I tend to get into a mind set that my weight loss efforts are never good enough. For example if I work out for 30 minutes a day I think it should have been an hour. If I eat 1500 calories a day I hate myself for not eating 1200. I will do this to myself until I feel in total despair and will then binge.

I caught myself up again like this the other day. I realized how destructive that whole pattern is and how I really tend to disregard all my best efforts as if they were nothing. I decided to spend each day paying attention to all the things I do that help myself instead of deciding that no matter what it is it's not good enough. I have actively worked at recalling all the other very tough situations I have overcome in my life. For example I quit drinking 14 years ago and also quit smoking. I recalled during those times when it was the hardest I just kept working at the problem until there no longer was a problem. There was actually a time in my life when I could not believe I would ever be able to get through a day without a drink. I could not even picture what life would be like as a sober person. If anyone would have told me I would have 14 years of sobriety someday I would never have believed them. I recalled what an incredible amount of tenacity I have and all the areas of my life where this have served me well.

It seems to easy to get discouraged when you have a large amount of weight to lose. I think we all wish it could just fall off all at once or at least come off more easily. It is easy to look at how far there is to go instead of how far we have come and how strong we have been in our efforts.

09-09-2005, 12:23 PM
through this process I realized I don't really eat emotionally. I do however eat just for the sake of eating (compulsive) and I tend to binge while doing it. I do the same things as you sometimes, just never put it into words that way.

A great book to read that does deal with this is Dr. Phil's Weight Loss Solutions. I know several people don't like him but he presents it very well in his 7 keys and has some great advice on how to deal with all of it. (I think he calls it stinkin' thinkin'). I need to get my book back out and re-read it since I'm struggling right now with just eating whatever whenever and not really caring.

09-09-2005, 01:29 PM
It seems to easy to get discouraged when you have a large amount of weight to lose. I think we all wish it could just fall off all at once or at least come off more easily. It is easy to look at how far there is to go instead of how far we have come and how strong we have been in our efforts.

good words to remember when you start feeling discouraged!

well, you're a person who has quit smoking and drinking, which is just amazing to me. Congratulations!

I've struggled with compulsive/binge/emotional eating for years. This approach helped me.

I did follow "diets" like Jenny Craig after this. Structure and routine with eating and exercise has been really helpful to me. Being an emotional eater, I did have to spend time and effort figuring out those emotional issues. Hey, I'm worth it ;)

Everybody approaches weight loss from their own individual place. Personally, I could have spun my wheels forever just trying diet after diet without dealing with what was behind the eating. I spent plenty of time torturing myself with the idea that it was my lack of will power that kept me from losing the weight, but learned that there was so much more going on with me and food.

We live in a culture that likes quick fixes, me included. Believe me, if somebody offered to waive a wand and I'd be my ideal healthy weight, I'd say, Oh, yeah! Truth is, it's a journey. I put on over 100 lbs on this body, more than once, and I have had (and still have) to take the time to learn to get it off and keep it off.

So, that fairy with the magic wand for me would have to add, "I'll take the weight off for you instantly, but you'll have a greater than 50 per cent chance of putting it back on." And looking at it that way, I'd have to turn it down and keep on working with what I'm doing.

Sorry to be so long winded!

09-09-2005, 02:54 PM
I would say the compulsive/emotional/binge eating :o have been my tools of the trade for years. Definately triggered by stress for me. I remember several occasions when I have had a nasty day I would drive to the nearest conveniance store and buy a bag of chips (large mind you, what you would bring to a party) and dip and eat the whole thing in a sitting :p Only after I was feeling sick would I realize what I had done and berate :mad: myself even further, and so the spiral of out of control eating would continue. For me, structure is essential for losing weight.

Most of the time when I was binge eating I would not even taste what I was eating until I have finished whatever process food I had bought. What I have done to control it now(and I have lapses) is when I have the urge, I say to myself I will wait a half an hour before I eat anything and the I get myself busy doing something else. I find (most times) by the time the 30 minutes are up, I have lost the urge.

The biggest thing I have learned though, is forgiveness. You have to be able to forgive yourself when you slip. I set myself up for failure everytime when I say to myself "This is the last time I am going to cheat". I am far from perfect, and by being able to forgive myself for the lapse, I find I recover better and can start again with a better fram of mind.

09-09-2005, 03:17 PM
You are so right about the structure. It definitely helps me to know that I need to eat every three hours. I am such a clock watcher now!

I used to do the same thing you did, except it was with ice cream sandwiches. It was common for me to eat a whole box in a sitting. It was either out of boredom, or loneliness, or stress.

I still have to be careful--I can slip back into the habit easily.

09-09-2005, 04:12 PM
I was wondering how many of you would consider yourself to have trouble with compulsive eating, binge eating or just plan emotional eating.

Absolutely, all of the above! It's a nasty, nasty cycle that we somehow seem programmed to keep repeating. This weight loss thing is about so much more than just the number on the scale. The "head stuff" is what turns the simple concept of burning more calories than you consume into this almost insurmountable obstacle that sadly, so many people will struggle with for the rest of their lives (I know I will).

I agree that Dr. Phil's book would be a good suggestion for dealing with the "stinkin' thinkin'". Even if you don't agree with his philosophies, he's got a pretty good handle why we keep doing this to ourselves, and it may just help you. Good luck, and believe me, you are sooooo not alone!


09-10-2005, 01:18 AM
Hi f(x)

I always enjoy your posts. They are "meaty" I guess is how I would describe it. Thanks to everyone else who posted on this thread. Powerful stuff. I will chime in with the others and say that I liked Dr. Phil's book even though I don't care for him or his show. Another book I think is really good is "Life is Hard, Food is Easy". It is specifically and singlely about emotional eating. It is currently out of stock at the publisher but I got it from my local libray, Awesome!

I really needed to be reminded of all that I have over come in the past. I too get discouraged about my weight loss. Mostly because I lose very slowly and must exercise and restrict my eating quite a bit for even the most modest weight losses. My doctor says I should be losing 3-4 pounds a week on what it takes for me to maintain. Enough already with the whining.

I really related to this constant berating of yourself that you referred to in your post. I don't really go there much any more. What I identified for myself was that the constant self flagelation was just a pain I created for myself because it was familiar and safe. It was easier then facing all the unresolved pain and grief I had from other areas and times of my life. It was pain I felt I could control. I am not sure that will help but realizing that for myself has enabled me to pretty much leave that behavior behind.

Your being honest in sharing your feelings has really helped me. Thanks f(x)

09-10-2005, 08:58 PM
Greatthread f(x) and all
I too have quit drinking, smoking and a couple of other addictions. I put up five stone ( 70 lb) in a few months when I finally got off the cigarettes last November. Now with the weight thing being a major focus for me I am seeing how I ate addictively (rather than to live) from quite a young age. I feel that food is a really hard one as total abstinence (the only way for me with drink/drugs) is not an option. I have not read much on food abuse, but I have downloaded a few OA talks from www.xa-speakers.org and find them really interesting from an identification point of view. I have also read a book by a UK journalist William Leith called 'The Hungry Years' where he uses his own alcohol, drugs, and eating experience as the basis of an investigation into overeating. It's quite funny and touching. I have been going to WW and sometimes feel a little uncomfortable that there is no mention there of the fact that overeating may not just be 'naughty' and something to giggle about and can be very serious. I would say that my eating of carbs in particular was compulsive or emotional. I would also say that I am starting to see the value of the idea of trigger foods. If I don't eat bread or cake, I'm OK. If I have two slices of toast, I can go into a zone where I'll goof out and eat eight or ten. So I now only eat things that don't start off this chain reaction. Anyway I could go on (Me! My favourite subject! as said by a very perceptive addict years ago) but I won't. Thanks again for bringing this up.

09-11-2005, 03:05 AM
I like a book called "The Solution: For Safe, Healthy, and Permanent Weight Loss" by Laurel Mellin. It gives set of tools you can use to manage those urges to binge or make unhealthy choices, and to handle emotions without eating.

One technique that I've found useful recently is a question about "essential pain". For instance, I was at the grocery store and had to pass by the bakery department, and I really was drawn to the donuts. So I asked myself, "is the essential pain of not eating that donut too much for me to bear right now?" The answer was no! I was a little lonely, a little tired, but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle without eating a donut!

Note that using this technique, there are some times where the "essential pain" of not doing something IS too much, and then it's ok to give yourself permission to buy and eat a donut - but you might limit yourself to buying one, even if there's a buy-one-get-one-free offer!

09-11-2005, 07:37 PM
I would also say that I am starting to see the value of the idea of trigger foods. If I don't eat bread or cake, I'm OK. If I have two slices of toast, I can go into a zone where I'll goof out and eat eight or ten. So I now only eat things that don't start off this chain reaction.

I just wanted to add quickly that I certainly have had my trigger foods. Right now I don't buy bags of potato chips or a box of donuts, it's just to easy to keep eating them until they're done. On the other hand, I can keep pints of ice cream in the freezer for months, when I used to not be able to open one and not finish it.

I liked your technique, Oliviacw, you know, feeling what's going on rather than using the food to smother it. Then saying sometimes if you're stressed, go ahead and have a piece of chocolate!

09-11-2005, 09:02 PM
Yes, yes & yes. I have finally changed my mindset, pretty successfully too, by realizing that I DON'T have to be perfect, just good enough. So, even though I've been losing very slowly, I finally realized that it's better to lose very slowly & consistently than to follow a plan that I can't keep up. I can't cut all carbs, nor weigh & measure every bite I eat. So I decided to just do my best & make healthy choices.

I loosely schedule my meals so if I'm not due for a meal or snack, I can ask myself why am I eating this? If I am truly hungry, I'll go ahead and have a small snack. If I'm not, then I walk away from the food & figure out what is wrong & deal with it another way besides eating. So far, this approach is working but I'm going to constantly struggle with it, I'm sure.

09-12-2005, 01:56 AM
:wave: HELLOOOO! I'm such an emotional eater. If I have a bad day, I'll want cookies, chocolate, cola - I DESERVE IT! :rolleyes: The other day, I had such a hard day with my two little kiddos (ages 4 and 15 months) and to make things worse, my son threw up all over me at bedtime...I'd just had it. I was exhausted, my day sucked - the kids were finally asleep and I ate three cookies. Now, three cookies is NOTHING compared to the damage I've done in the past after a bad day - but the fact is that I ate those cookies, not because I was hungry but b/c they made me feel better. It SUCKS that food makes me feel better but it does.

For me, I've stopped beating myself up. If I screw up and eat for the wrong reasons - I try to learn from it and just move on. Beating myself up doesn't help - it just makes me feel bad and want another cookie. :lol: Losing weight in the past - I've gotten so caught up in trying to be perfect that when I didn't live up to my expectations - I was off and eating poorly and gaining again. I had to stop that and give myself permission to not be perfect. Now, I really do try to treat myself the way I would treat a friend - with respect! I wouldn't berate a friend for eating some cookies - why do I do it to myself?! I wouldn't yell at my friend for *only* losing a pound - I'd be excited for her! So, now I'm a friend to ME - If I lose a pound, I'm thrilled and even if I maintain - I'm really excited - it's better than gaining. ;)

I have to keep trigger foods out of the house. Luckily, I do the grocery shopping :D so I decide what comes in the house. My husband likes his snacks (he doesn't struggle with his weight - HMPH! ;) ) but none of them are anything that I can't resist. Other than that, I just don't buy things that I can't resist - or if I really want something, I buy only enough for one serving - so I eat it and it's gone. And I make sure to REALLY TASTE it and enjoy it. :D

I'm also bad about just eating without thinking...I've improved so much in that area. Using FitDay to record my eating and planning my days ahead of time (and then tweaking as I go along) and also posting here in the Buddy thread - has really helped me with that. :)

Hang in there! You've overcome some other HUGE obstacles in your life - you can conquer this one too! ((((HUGS))))