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Old 06-09-2002, 10:26 PM   #1  
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Default when/how/why did you start eating for comfort? emotional eating


Just thought I'd start a new topic. I'm curious as to when and why other people started comfort or emotional story (condensed) below.

I was really thin when I was younger. My family teased me that I was in the wrong family. I would eat two bites of something and be full. Puberty changed all that. I had gained some weight, but was not fat, just no longer "skinny.' Another words, I started getting hips.

My mom panicked-you'd think with me being her third daughter she'd know better, but she dragged me to Weight Watchers with her. (my ENTIRE family, both sides has weight problems). I was almost five feet eight inches tall, fifteen years old and weighed 128. I would kill to weigh that now-actually, I think I would look too skinny at that weight.

So my weight struggle began. According to weight watchers I should have weighed 120. I think their charts are more forgiving now. I lost the eight pounds. Then I gained it back plus five more-mom dragged me back to Weight Watchers. This went on all through high school. I started to sneak food-namely sweets, which I hadn't done before.

When I went away to college I did something unusual-I lost fifteen pounds my freshman year. When I moved back home, the comments from my mom got to me again, and I started sneaking food more-it was a lot easier since I then had my own car.

I gained more through college, then moved in with my fiance. He was working the three to eleven pm shift. I didn't see him at night at all. We lived in a new town where I knew nobody. I started to go out to eat by myself and bake at night. Food was my company.

It's eleven years later, and my husband still works nights-but a better shift-he doesn't leave til eight thirty pm, so we have some time together. I"m still doing the emotional/comfort eating at night.

I can't seem to stop this cycle. Food is just always there, is comforting, can't hurt your feelings and doesn't make it seem as lonely.

If anyone has any ideas/or help for this topic, I'd love for you to share.
I don't want to pass this eating pattern on to my son. I want him to see food as a form of nourishment, not entertainment or companionship.

Please help,
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Old 06-09-2002, 11:42 PM   #2  
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I can't remember when I started using food emotionally. I think I've always done it. It's simply something my family does. I've been overweight since childhood.

When I was younger -- 9ish, I would eat two sandwiches for lunch instead of one because I didn't want to be hungry later. I was very concerned about not being hungry. And I would snack alot. I sneaked alot of cookies. I ate in the afternoon when I was bored. I ate extra dessert if I was upset about something. I ate extra dessert if I was excited about something. I remember always being concerned about food. It's not like we were starving either. We had plenty.

As I got older, I didn't really change, I just got worse with emotional eating. I also got worse with sugar/chocolate binges, which I've always done. I just didn't have as much binge material available to me when I was younger. I needed my driver's license to really get bad. I used to hoard chocolate. I also used to buy the big bars (8 oz.) or pounds of M&M's at a time for myself. I've eaten a pound of M&M's in one sitting --- more than once. I've bought pounds of chocolate at a time, and not been able to wait the 10 minutes it would take to get home. I'd tear into the bags as soon as I closed my car door in the parking lot. My family makes homemade cookies often. I can't count the number of times I've lost track of how many cookies I've eaten. I would binge when I was upset, depressed, lonely, excited, afraid, embarrassed, anxious, sad, happy. You name the emotion, and I've eaten when I've had it.

I've only started to change this habit within the past two years. I went through a rough time after quitting a job that was somewhat abusive, moved back home, and ended up with clinical depression and anxiety. I was put on an antidepressant for about nine months while I went through a bit of counseling and did alot of reading on my own about emotional disorders. I realized that I did not allow myself to feel emotions. I just stuffed them down with food.

Now, when I want to eat, I stop and ask myself what I'm feeling. What emotion am I feeling? Am I sad, lonely, anxious, angry, excited? And then I ask why I feel that way. If I'm feeling sad, and it's something I can do something about, I take a step towards resolving the problem. If it's about something I can't do anything about, I try to let it go.

I have a different view of emotions now. I used to be afraid to feel them, and especially to show them because I would be betraying who I was and I was afraid to be criticized or condemned. I'm still a little afraid to show how I really feel. I hate confrontations. I can be a little scrupulous too, and I was afraid I was doing something wrong by feeling emotions -- say feeling anger.

I now believe that emotions in themselves are neither good nor bad. They are simply part of what makes us human, and usually, they're trying to tell us something. In my abusive job, I was feeling very depressed and angry. I stuffed my emotions down with food when my emotions were telling me that something was wrong with the situation. I just wasn't listening, so I wasn't dealing with the problem.

I've been off the medication now for over a year, and am no longer troubled with depression outside of the normal ups and downs of life. I've also made alot of healthy changes in my life including getting in the habit of exercising, and changing my diet, cutting down on things like caffeine, sugar, chocolate (note- I've cut down on these things. I will never cut them out.) I'm looking to live a healthier life and to have a healthier more positive outlook on life. So far, I've lost 44 pounds within about 17 months.

My struggle with binging though has only really gotten easier the past few months. I tend to binge when I'm tired, thirsty, hungry and/or upset. I had alot of cravings. Chocolate would actually call me. I asked my family if they would be willing to cut down on the number of times they made the cookies that I can't resist. They were not willing to do that and reminded me that it's my problem, and I could not resist the cookies, so I tried to avoid being near the cookies. That meant not eating with my family for a while. I realized that I was too weak to resist the cookies, but what I could do was remove myself from the temptation. Admitting my weakness and doing something about it is working.
I also no longer buy candy for myself. I simply will not do it.

When I got home from work, instead of going directly to the kitchen to start stuffing cookies in my face, I would go to my room, drink some water, and take a minute to breath deeply and to decide what and how much I was going to eat. Then I'd go downstairs, eat what I had planned, including maybe one or two cookies, and go right back upstairs so as to be away from temptation. When I'm in my room, I'm reading or doing something so I am not bored or thinking about food. It's working. I had to be extreme with myself at first as far as avoiding cookies goes, but now I actually have fewer cravings. I don't have to avoid the cookies as much because I don't crave them as much. I done some minor overeating in the past couple months, but I have not binged at all. I really don't think I've gained willpower so much as I've been able to reduce cravings.

Another thing that helps with cravings is drinking lots of water, and keeping your blood sugar level on an even keel. I do much better if I eat every 4-6 hours, also if I include some protein in most meals. What also helps me is to have something to eat before I go home. If I'm not starving, or even a little full, I'm not as tempted. Eating alot of sugar on an empty stomach is a bad idea. It spikes your blood sugar and you actually end up hungry and down.

Overeating, even at one meal, stretches your stomach and you tend to feel hungry after overeating. Weird, isn't it?

Exercise is great for controlling cravings. It makes you feel less hungry, and releases endorphins which give you a lift besides burning calories and building muscle. I started exercising because I wanted off my antidepressant medication. I read that 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week is as affective as a low dose of antidepressants. That's what I started with, and why I started exercising. It seems to work.

Hope this helps.

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Old 06-10-2002, 11:02 AM   #3  
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Moms, what can you do with them? My mom was on my case as well when I was a child. I can remember being 11 and her telling me I needed to go on a diet. I was always chunky was a kid but telling a child they need to diet is just setting them up for failure. Kids just don't understand at that age. Well anyway now I eat a lot out of boredom and routine and poor choices. I'm doing a lot better. Occasionally I'll eat if I am upset, but that is rare.
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Old 06-10-2002, 11:34 AM   #4  
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Oddly, my mom wasn't the culprit when it came to my weight issues, we've gone on diets before, but, the main one was my dad... the 5th degree black belt, the state champ kickboxer... I had to do as well as he did, or he took away my food, I had to stay at a certain training weight, or, he took away my food, and doubled my workouts... which, by the age of 7, I was already working out 2 hours a day, 8 days a week...1 hour aerobic/calisthenics, one hour karate/kickboxing training, and this isn't even counting dance lessons, drill team, and all of the extracurriculars from school (I was the busiest child you ever did see...) when he died, when I was 10, things changed, and fast, my mom was a wreck, and I think my biggest rebellion at that point was to eat everything I could get my hands on...especially pizza...and that just stuck... I get mad at someone, or get bored or depressed...I do one of three things, eat, clean, or workout...trying lately to rely on the last
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Old 06-10-2002, 12:38 PM   #5  
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I was all ways the tallest one in school. In 6th grade I was 5'9" tall and about 130 lbs. Now I wasn't heavy. But at that age, I also had a size 36D bra. So I was a very curvy 6th grader. For the kids in my class (at the time only 6) ( very small school) I was the bigest. That caused me to get teased all the time. I was never able to eat as a comfort because my family was very poor and we never had the snacks to much on. So my self confidance was very low. Anyway, we moved and I began to swim and look better, but never as good as the girls that were "skinny" in my highschool. The summer before my Senior year my mom died of breast cancer and that caused me to stop eating all together. The thought of all the foods that "might cause cancer" scared the **** out of me, and if I found a food I could eat, the thought of what my mom had to go through after eating ended up making me sick. I lost 50lbs in 3 months and then started to worry my now husband. He asked the doc and they said I was going to have to eat, even if it ment force feeding myself. So that is what I did. And gained 25 lbs on top of the 50 that I had just lost. Then about 2 months later I had a hip operation. So I just sat around eating for the months I couldn't walk. Then moved out of my parents house, into an appartment with my now husband. That is were I began eating for comfort. You see, a month after I moved in, my husband joined the army and went away for 3 months and then my father moved 500 miles away from me. All at once I was all alone, still having problems dealing with the death of my mother.

That is when I started eating for comfort. Sorry it's so long. But that is my story.

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Old 06-10-2002, 02:09 PM   #6  
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I was not a fat child. I have the pictures to prove it. I was, however, big for my age. I hit puberty relatively early - TOM started coming when I was 11. In sixth grade, I was about 5'3" and probably weighed around 125. What got me was two things: I was bigger than everyone else (but NOT fat!), and my grandmother (may she rest in peace - I do miss her but BOY how I could wring her neck thinking about this!) had a snide comment about everything I put in my mouth. What's worse: she was about 150 lbs. overweight herself. Maybe in her own way she was trying to spare me the pain that she was experiencing.

Anyhow, what actually happened was I DIDN'T turn to food for comfort - just the opposite. In eighth grade, I quit eating. My daily diet consisted of a peanut butter sandwich (no jelly) and - if I was really hungry - an apple. I drank Tab (with saccarhine - who remembers that nasty-a$$ stuff? BLEAH!) like it was going out of style. In a month, I was down to 115. I was about 5'5" tall. I could see my hip bones, and I felt awesome. The compliments abounded.

Of course, like any starvation diet, I gained it back, plus a few bounds. There started the vicious cycle, and it continued into adulthood. I got married, had a baby, moved overseas, and that's where it started to get really out of control. The first few months in Italy were tough. The food was great, for one! Also, I had been totally unprepared for the culture shock and actually felt guilty for feeling it - sounds snobbish, but I consider myself fairly well-rounded and educated, and I didn't think people "like me" experienced culture shock. Boy, was I ever wrong! Also, I wasn't working and was home with my two young children. We went to the park and packed food. We would walk down to the store to get ice cream. We'd make cookies. Food became a way to deal with the boredom.

Still, though, when I felt my life getting really out of control, I'd starve myself. I distinctly remember one time. I had a really good job for the federal law enforcement agency on base, and I was going to school. I was insanely busy, my marriage wasn't going so well, and I missed my friends in the States. I didn't eat for three days. I mean nothing except liquid - water or diet Coke -passed my lips for three days. I remember walking from the office to the Wendy's on base - about 1/4 mile - and getting to the door of the Wendy's and seeing green spots and hyperventilating. I finally broke down and ate a baked potato. Of course, the weight came back then some when I started bingeing. Another time (in Spain, where we went right after Italy) - I had this odd idea that I could live on a multivitamin a day. I did that for three days - lots of water and a vitamin every morning. On the fourth morning, I had to pull the car over on the way to work because I was dry-heaving the vitamin. Same cycle - starve, binge, gain more than before.

I finally took a long look at what I was doing when we got back to the States. I settled in at a weight of about 160, and was okay with that. Then I started teaching. I was determined not to starve myself when things got out of control (which was pretty much all the time - ask any first year teacher! ), but I ended up swinging the pendulum WAY too far the other way! I gained about 50 pounds in eight months.

And here I am. Just trying to be healthy. My daughter will be like me, and it breaks my heart. I think the message was instilled too early, when I didn't know any better. All I can do is love her and pray for her and set the example today.

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Old 06-10-2002, 07:36 PM   #7  
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I can trace the day I started overeating to the day that I was raped. I decided that if a grown man could find me at age 11 attractive, I would not be attractive. My goal was to get fat so that no man would find me attractive. I now weigh 280 or so pounds and am trying to take off the weight. My threat is now gone (serving 5-7 years for sexual interference) Since that moment, I have not felt the need to binge as I no longer feel threatened. Part of my recovery is to try to get back to that happy girl I used to be who was active, fit with a healthy self-esteem. Having just found this site, I find the postings are helping me work through some of the lingering emotions. Thanks for the help.
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Old 06-10-2002, 11:58 PM   #8  
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Oddly enough, I was a very fat baby and a very slender child. The fat baby part was Mom trying to make sure I ate plenty of meat. In the 50's the Doctors thought without meat a child would be very ill or die and it took a long time for me to develop a taste for it but as I got to be about 4 years old I was quite slender....until...
I had surgery at age 6 to remove my tonsils, remove my adnoids to take the pressure off of the optic nerves and rebuild my ear drums( I was totally deaf due to scar tissue from ear infections).
Perhaps it was something said while I was under, or something from dieing and being brought back , I don't know but three days later I was home and a changed child or so I am told. My desire for food increased. A year later I was wearing chubbies. Mildly overweight shall we say. About this time Mom and Dad had real marriage problems and food was what I reached for to ease the pain. At age 11 I was molested and this process went full swing. Not long after this Mom and Dad were in a battle royale, clothes cut up, Dad crushing glass in his hands blood on the walls, the Bible, everywhere. I picked glass out of his hand. Went between them and stopped it from becoming deadly. Divorce. After well I was the stop gap for their interactions. Two years later they remarried and were happy until Daddy died of cancer. By age 16 and married to a man addicted to "the drink" I now weighed 475 lbs. Divorce at 19 ,remarried within 5 months, in this marrage I lost and gained over and over again. My second marriage was a nightmare so I was again in a bad, bad marriage. Needless to say my weight was a roller coaster. Separation which led to divorce. Being joyously down to 238lbs , joyously pregnant and losing my daughter My weight began to climb yet again. Food was the center of my Universe. I binged often. My home was like a train station with so many friends and people coming and going where the kitchen was the main setting. We talked & ate. We went out to the best places with all our social circle and ....ate.
Fun, social interaction, visitors, gatherings and spiritual things all revolved around food. The saga continues... emotions and a new way of coping with them and life on a permenant basis is the way out of this cycle.
JML is totally correct about how to change the destructive cycle.
Identify the emotion
take the emotion and follow it back to the root emotion
Questioning...why am I responding in this way, what underlying emotion is the trigger for this feeling? Can I change the situtation? Can I change how I respond to this situtation? What is a better healthier response.
Take action within you first to change the response. Then if you can do something about the circumstances do so intelligently not out of emotion.
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Old 06-12-2002, 03:50 PM   #9  
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Oprah had this very topic on her show yesterday with Dr. Phil. I found it very interesting and what he said made a lot of sense. The second half will be aired on June 18th (Tuesday). I think the first half is outlined on her website

I can't be specific with a date for when it all started, because I can be overweight for a long time, then lose most of it, then gain it all back, then start all over again.

The reason I'm overweight is to avoid people. It helps keep me at a distance so that I don't get hurt. Now I have to figure out how to fix all that. SHEESH!!


PS It's [email protected] good to be back.
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Old 06-12-2002, 11:11 PM   #10  
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But of course it doesn't stop being hurt. You just hurt about different things. Learn to trust your ability to cope with whatever life throws your way. You can you know. Being alone, on the outside looking in is pretty painful. I know.... been there.
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