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Which to address first-emotional eating or sticking to eating plan?

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Old 07-05-2009, 07:34 PM   #1
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Default Which to address first-emotional eating or sticking to eating plan?

Over the years, I've fallen into emotional eating as a way to cope with many things in my life.

I was just about ready today to sign up at ShrinkYourself.com to address this, but that isn't going to help me start taking off some of this weight NOW.

I feel like I can't stand going another day this fat, and I MUST fight myself to stick with an eating plan that will, hopefully, lead to weight loss.

I've been tracking my food off and on recently at Spark People, and it drives me crazy because I feel that it makes me obsess about food when I'm trying so hard to ignore a lot of it, if that makes any sense.

I need to lose at least 120 pounds, and though I've made many, many, many attempts, I haven't been successful at losing to this point. (I've been hypothyroid and on medication for it for ten years, so I know that isn't helping one little bit.)

Have any of you emotional eaters had luck just trying to stick within your calorie ranges and lost weight, even without specifically addressing the emotional eating problem, or have you run into a brick wall too?

Just wondering if I'm shooting myself in the foot yet again by trying to track my calories and stay within range without doing anything about the emotional eating except trying to white knuckle through and don't do it?
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Old 07-05-2009, 07:52 PM   #2
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Both. Do both. Dont say "I am never going to emotionally eat again, I am going to white knuckle this" because then if you slipl once, it is over.

The key is to count on the days you emotionally eat also. It's hard but it helps a lot. One it stops the beating yourself up cycle. If you emotionally eat a cookie or even 10 cookies, you record them and you deal with the damage and move on. It helped me a lot at the time to take some of the emotion out of it. "So I ate 4 cookies in a moment of feeling sorry for myself. 600 calories. Less than 1/6th of a pound. Lets move on" Or sometimes "ok, a bag of M&M's not great, but seriously, I can deal with 240 calories. Boy I wish I had used them on something more filling though"

The second key is to not try and "make up for emotional eating". Small things sure. If I have a cookie or a few candies maybe I dont get my other planned treat later that day. But if I have a 600 calorie cookie attack, NOT eating dinner to catch up will only spiral. Cause sure thing by dinner that sugar will be gone and I will be HUNGRY. Start back on plan. Eat your normal dinner. Forgive yourself. Move on.

And yes, if emotional eating is a pervasive thing where you cant get a handle on it, you may need more help, but dont wait to start.
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Old 07-05-2009, 07:59 PM   #3
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Oh...and plan for it. I was going through a super high stress time and started keeping bags of carrots and celery everywhere. I was FURIOUS one day just steaming mad and I emotionally chomped my way through about 4 stalks of celery and 4 carrots. My jaw hurt, my tummy was full and I hadnt done too much damage.
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Old 07-05-2009, 09:20 PM   #4
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Yup, I spent YEARS debating about WHY I was fat and WHY I ate emotionally and WHAT was in my past and blah blah blah. I spent YEARS talking and analyzing and reading books and doing workbooks and I still ate. So I thought something had to change. I decided that I clearly wasn't going to figure things out any time soon, and the weight wasn't going away on its own. So I decided that if I could do just ONE thing for myself, I would stick to an eating plan. Every day. Even if I didn't feel like it. So, I found a plan I could fit into my lifestyle and am sticking with it. And you know what? The need to emotionally eat seems to be, well, going away. At least, the binging on crap has. And I've lost weight! Go figure!!!
What has happened for ME is that I no longer have given myself "permission" to binge on crap. You know -- I'm so MAD, I'll show THEM, I'll eat CAKE. Or I'm so HAPPY, I'll CELEBRATE, I'll eat CAKE...I personally believe that emotional eating is, well, a CHOICE, because there are so many other ways to deal with emotions. We just give ourselves permission to do so.
Now I've chosen to deal with my emotions in a different, non-destructive way. And I think you can, too...
JMHO
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Old 07-05-2009, 09:45 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by kiramira View Post
Yup, I spent YEARS debating about WHY I was fat and WHY I ate emotionally and WHAT was in my past and blah blah blah. I spent YEARS talking and analyzing and reading books and doing workbooks and I still ate. So I thought something had to change. I decided that I clearly wasn't going to figure things out any time soon, and the weight wasn't going away on its own. So I decided that if I could do just ONE thing for myself, I would stick to an eating plan. Every day. Even if I didn't feel like it. So, I found a plan I could fit into my lifestyle and am sticking with it. And you know what? The need to emotionally eat seems to be, well, going away. At least, the binging on crap has. And I've lost weight! Go figure!!!
What has happened for ME is that I no longer have given myself "permission" to binge on crap. You know -- I'm so MAD, I'll show THEM, I'll eat CAKE. Or I'm so HAPPY, I'll CELEBRATE, I'll eat CAKE...I personally believe that emotional eating is, well, a CHOICE, because there are so many other ways to deal with emotions. We just give ourselves permission to do so.
Now I've chosen to deal with my emotions in a different, non-destructive way. And I think you can, too...
JMHO
Kira
Thank you both for your replies.

Kira, I think what you wrote is pretty much what I reached the conclusion on today too. I've done all sorts of introspection, analyzing, buying and reading of books...and I still want to eat crap all day, every day.

I'm amazed that your emotional eating is going away just by sticking to an eating plan. I'm not sure I've ever heard anybody say that before, but that's good to know.

Since I really can't afford to keep gaining, I don't feel like I have the luxury to keep trying to "find answers" to why I do emotional eating. As you said, I've just got to get a grip on myself and stop doing it.

Ennay, I think this is where your suggestions will come in---to track what I eat even when it's way over my limits. That's where I always bog down. One handful of mini Reese's too many and my plan is out the window because I "failed" to be perfect.

As you can see by my stats, this hasn't been working very well, since I'm close to 300.
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Old 07-05-2009, 10:04 PM   #6
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Ditto what Kira said. I spent many years pontificating and having those lightbulb moments only to eat my way up to almost 300lbs. In the end all of that time that I had spent WAS very worthwhile.

Becky - what I found was that just STARTING had a lot of power in it. Starting something that makes sense for me. And along the way there were many aha! omg yes! moments. But getting a little bit of momentum and confidence that I could do it and that I would was important for me.

I really struggled with this recently at having regained some of the weight I lost but I am starting to feel confident again

I would think about what way of eating makes sense to you and then just start! Even if its for one meal, or one day, but make a start.

And the longer that you do not eat for reasons other than hunger the easier it is . . . that is the other thing that I am remebering. It does get easier.

Hugs to you
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Old 07-05-2009, 10:13 PM   #7
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Ms Truffle, I still get the urge to just eat, eat, eat. But the fact that I have a plan lets me say "NO. I can't eat this. I have only x weight watchers points left for today and I have a great dinner planned. If I EAT this, then I can't have a full serving."
It takes a huge effort at first, because my ingrained habit was to just, well, grab something sugary, quick, and fast or salty, crunchy and snackable. I think emotional eating is just a way of DISTRACTING us from our emotions -- doing something to dull the feeling, so to speak, whether it is a good feeling or a bad feeling. If you are like me, you eat whenEVER you have a big feeling, be it happy OR sad. You know, "I don't want to feel this, so I'll do something instead", and that "something instead" is to EAT.

Sometimes I wonder if this is linked to my upbringing, when displays of emotion were completely forbidden, so I compensated by eating. And this has become a HABIT. And HABITS can be broken.

I've had to do other things to distract myself that are healthier -- I leave any eating situation if it is too distracting. I jump in the shower -- now THAT'S distracting! I weed the garden. I long onto 3FC . But I do SOMETHING that involves my mind connecting to my body. Because if I don't, I'll focus on the "I wanna eat" thoughts because I'm not physically engaged in something else.

So I don't think the URGE to dull one's emotions are completely gone -- I've found other things to do other than eat.

Let us know how it goes for you -- I know you can overcome this. And if you break the bad habits and get some great ones, it does get easier. Even LIFE gets easier, because you have better coping strategies all around that aren't self-destructive.



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Old 07-05-2009, 10:51 PM   #8
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Truffle, I had a lifetime of emotional issues with eating. I want to give you encouragement, because I had good luck with just calorie counting when I started out. If I can do it, anyone can.

I wish you the best of luck; I know this is not an easy thing.
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Old 07-05-2009, 11:15 PM   #9
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OK, first - you CAN do this! If I could end my emotional eating cycle at ate 50+, you can too.

The others ar right. Plan. And, make a list of substitutes. WHAT will I do when I want to reach for food as a reward, to get me through a stressful day, when I am bored, etc.?

I developed a long list of alternatives.
Some of mine are:
Work in my garden
Take a buble bath
Work a puzzle
Read a book
Take a walk
Meditate / pray
Exercise
Craft or sew
Clean my closet
Experiment with makeup or hair styles
Do my nails
Call or visit a friend
Come visit 3FC
Surf the net for goal clothing ideas

I log everything in Fitday - this helps me see my emotional eating patters as what they are. And, if I absolutely MUST grab food to deal with my emotions, like ennay, I grab healthy, crunchy foods - fresh vegetables, a 100 calorie bag of popcorn, Fiber One cereal, etc.

We are all works in progress, and progress - NOT perfection is the goal!
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Old 07-06-2009, 12:00 AM   #10
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Another emotional eater here. I too got sick and tired of trying to wait to figure everything out. I waited long enough - 20+ years. No, it was finally time to take some much needed ACTION.

And absolutely planning was essential. I counted my calories which helped to put the brakes on. Figured out what I was going to eat IN ADVANCE and stuck to it like GLUE. Set some STRICT guidelines and food "laws" for myself to follow. Lots of rules, definite NO's. Rid my home of the junk, while adding in good healthy, delicious lower calorie foods. All these things helped GREATLY to keep my emotional eating in check.

Adhering to my calorie budget forced me to find other ways to deal with my sadness, frustration, boredom, anger, joy, annoyances, stress and what have you.

The list that CountingDown gave you has some great diversions from food. And like the others, when I just "have to eat something", I turn to string beans, carrot sticks, grape tomatoes, cabbage or cucumber salad, a glass of water or a hot cup of tea.

You can do this. One day at a time. Start incorporating some healthy habits into your life. DEMAND and REQUIRE more from yourself. Find out what strength you really have, dig down deep - it's there - and find out who you were meant to be. You will amaze yourself.
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Old 07-06-2009, 12:07 AM   #11
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For me, then plan come firsts. If I COMMIT to being on plan, and I get emotional, then I am FORCED to come up with something else to handle my emotions. And that has helped me to deal with my emotional eating, because eventually, you learn new strategies to deal with the emotions. If you CUT OFF the option to eat emotionally, you will either deal with the emotions, or come up with an alternate way to self-soothe. Both are good!

So make the commitment, however you need to do it...whether requiring you take 15 minutes before eating anything to cool off, plan your meals strictly and only keep the food in the house to prepare them, etc. Commit and let the emotional learning follow after.
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Old 07-06-2009, 12:15 AM   #12
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Many people have written some great things already so I'll just say the mantra "Stop Thinking & Start Doing" works well for me... I totally overthink things and whenever I start a diet, if I don't perfectly plan it out I feel like I'm walking through the woods in the dark... but none of my perfectly planned diets have ever worked. I found it was okay to figure things out as I go.

Also, overthinking sometimes made me feel emotional and consequently eat emotionally.
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Old 07-06-2009, 12:22 AM   #13
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Also, overthinking sometimes made me feel emotional and consequently eat emotionally.
Yup. My head likes mind games and making things more difficult than they need to be. The doing seemed to sort that out.
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Old 07-06-2009, 12:47 AM   #14
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I've recently found that keeping a blog, journal, or something will help you deal with your emotions. Or even talking with someone. Just get it out of your mind either written or spoken, and it will make you feel 100% better.

That was my big problem. I recently found that I love writing, especially poetry. It takes a lot of creativity to write poetry, especially mine because you really have to try and figure out the meaning of it all. What can I say, I guess I'm pretty clever. :P

Joking aside though, it's really a great way to clear your head and instead of eat, you find yourself doing something more constructive!
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Old 07-06-2009, 02:29 AM   #15
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I'd say both, too. Emotional eating won't just go away, and it can hit you back full-force if you don't take care of it, but as you said, keeping on gaining or somesuch isn't a very good option either. Although it may depend on the plan you choose to follow. I've had serious issues with emotional eating last year, and I found out that counting calories triggered/increased them, whereas other kinds of 'plans' worked better, since they made me focus on food too but in a different way. But again, it probably depends on the person.
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