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Old 04-17-2007, 11:43 PM   #1  
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Default Do you use food to calm, cope, and medicate yourself?

This is what I do. I now look at people who have never had a weight problem and see them as people who don't need food as more than fuel for their bodies. They eat food because they are hungry, and choose foods that give them energy. I eat food mostly to calm my nerves and reward myself after a long, hard day. I am overweight.

I thought back to my childhood and remembered I sucked my thumb till I was 6. I remember doing it because it made me feel good. It gave me a calming feeling that nothing else could. Do I do this now with food? Have I just substituted one habit for another to get them same results?

Then I got to thinking....do naturaly thin people have stress in their lives? I'm sure they do, so what do they use to release stress? Exercise? Read a book? Take a bath? See, these things just don't do it for me. Food does. So when nothing else works and I really really need to calm my nerves and get over a bout of anxiety, I turn to my "pacifer", which is food.

I hate it. I really do. I wish food didn't effect me this way. I wish I could find other ways to cope so then I could be thin one day too.

Does any of this ring true for anyone else out there? Has anyone found better ways to cope with stress? I really could use some advice.

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Old 04-18-2007, 01:25 AM   #2  
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I...don't cope with stress. I bottle it up until it explodes, usually in a dirty, vicious fight with my boyfriend over stupidly insignificant things. Well, things that are stupid and insignificant to one of us but mean the world to the other. You know how it goes.

Of course, I'm not the most...mentally stable person you could ask this question of, either. In the rare cases that I *do* cope with stress, I usually do it by writing insipid, angsty poetry, or rambling on my blog. Or by reading Dooce.com until I reach the point where the line between hysterical laughter and hysterical sobbing has blurred sufficiently to allow me to release a little bit of pressure. But I don't know if anyone else can release stress that way, although I suggest you give it a try, cause that woman is FUNNY.

Anyway, food has always been my boredom thing. "I'm bored. *wanders into the kitchen* What sounds good?" which is how I got to be where I am now.
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Old 04-18-2007, 01:46 AM   #3  
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Boredom is my trigger as well, much more than stress (boredom being also 'having something to do, but it's a boring task', such as translating a very simple text for work, etc). No need to say that years past, my life had been so boring that I ate a lot.

As for stress, I sometimes cope with food, and sometimes with other things. I'm trying to eliminate it from my stress-coping strategies completely, anyway. I regularly wonder "what a non-fat person would do?", and try to figure out. Perhaps it's having a walk, exercising a little, watching a good movie, writing their feelings, venting to a friend/relative on the phone... Well, I don't like TV much and I can't call my acquaintances every day to rant lest they'll find me poor company, so I go for the exercising bit, and it works wonders (endorphins for the win ). But it's a habit that is hard to take; it takes time to completely eliminate the first reflex of turning to food -- and I admit having an even harder time when it comes to the boredom factor, even though my life is generally busier now than it used to be.

As a side note, finals have started for me now, and so far, exercising has indeed played its part. I'm as unstressed as can be before an exam (and I'm well-prepared too, but that's another matter).
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Old 04-18-2007, 06:43 AM   #4  
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Good topic! I have a friend who has always been "normal" weight, and when she is under stress she LOSES her appetite. She has to be reminded to eat. Huh.

When used to alter one's mental or emotional state, food is like a drug--just like alcohol or other drugs. One advantage is that instead of being falling-down drunk or stoned, one can simply be stuffed full of food and no one is the wiser. "Do you have donuts on your breath??"

One of the best ways to reduce stress is... exercise. That's what I've found. It's not because of an "endorphin high" necessarily--but it just gets everything cleared out. Going for a walk! Dancing. Doing an exercise video. Lifting some hand weights. Riding an exercise bike--or a real bike. Getting moving.

Many people also find that regular meditation or contemplative prayer is another way to reduce stress. Or doing yoga.

Cutting down on caffeine helps, too.

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Old 04-18-2007, 07:20 AM   #5  
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Ah... yes, Good Old Emotional Eating (has NOT been my friend - the big faker!!) I'm very well acquainted with it.

Stress, Depression, Fear, Happiness, Boredom, Anger... these have all been reasons to eat (and drink alcohol). To be honest... the ONLY way I've been able to control it NOW is because I'm in therapy. This is a behaviour I have used ALL my life... my coping mechanism... it worked out all right while I was a kid (though I thought I was fat!) but definitely backfired on me as an adult. When you have a coping technique for over 30 years it's really hard to unlearn it AND replace it positively without a little outside help
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:03 AM   #6  
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Do you use food to calm, cope, and medicate yourself?

Hmm, I'd have to go with yes, yes, and yes. Also to entertain myself.
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Old 04-25-2007, 05:58 AM   #7  
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I have to say that I am also guilty of this. I use food to comfort myself when I'm upset, to relax when I am stressed, to occupy myself when I'm bored, to share quality time with my DH so he doesn't have to eat alone. Many reasons, none of which are the right ones. It's hard to fight that urge.
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Old 04-25-2007, 07:09 AM   #8  
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I have learned over the years, that when I am getting ready to "comfort eat" to try and do other things.

~Cardio exercise: Cardio exercise actually creates a reaction in the body that is similar to taking an antidepressant. The key is to MAKE yourself take a walk, jog, turn up the tunes and dance, or some other cardio activity. Once you get yourself out there for that walk (or whatever) it really DOES help. I have a treadmill at home, and I often stick in a favorite movie and watch it while I walk. It makes the time go by faster-and I feel much better afterwards.

~Self pampering: Paint my nails, toenails, make a cup of hot tea and sip it while I read, take a bubble bath with some aromatherapy bubbles/bath oil, etc.

~Find something to do that occupies your hands and mind-so you can't eat. Knit, crochet, do a crossword puzzle/word search, cross stitch, playing a video game, buy a bonsai tree from an online nursery-ANYTHING that occupies your hands and mind at the same time. It also keeps your mind off whatever is stressing you.

~Yoga. If you are a beginner and have never done it-I recommend something easy like Leslie Sansone, Yoga For The Rest Of Us, or some other beginner yoga video. You will get a good stretch and light body strengthening, and some deep relaxation at the same time.

The key for me, is to learn to pinpoint the time and be aware of it-when I am about to stress eat. Then make an effort to steer myself in a different direction.

After my walk (or bath, etc.) if it still hasn't worked-then I CAREFULLY choose something healthier to eat that still provides some enjoyment-such as a frozen banana instead of ice cream. (peel a banana, put it in a ziploc baggie and freeze-I always keep one handy)

It is really no different than an alcohic or a former smoker learning to replace their vice with something else instead when they are stressed.

Everyone has stress, and everyone deals with it differently. Some drink, some smoke, some eat, some spend ridiculous amounts of money and get into debt, some bite their nails, some gamble...we have to deal with our emotional eating, and learn to replace it with a healthier habit instead.
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Old 04-25-2007, 07:50 AM   #9  
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Boredom is my main reason to reach for the food, it takes a lot of will-power not to.
I use food (mainly chocolate or crisps) when I'm feeling down or I've had an arguement with someone, or I'm feeling fat.
Whats the point? It makes you feel better for a nono-second then the guilt hits you making you want to just have a mammoth binge session.

aphil Indeed makes excellent points about how to break the cycles.

I'm finding the more I read here and the more posts I type the more I realise that I'm not hungry for food, I'm hungry for expression.
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Old 04-25-2007, 11:24 AM   #10  
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Oh yah. Boredom and stress = diet killers. It drives me nuts that I do it, and the more aware of it I am, the less I emotionally eat, eat to occupy myself, etc. Aphil is so right about doing something else. (Almost) anything else! Personally, I pumice my feet and knit like a crazy woman.

Speaking of this, I saw a sign outside the local chocolate shop that made me so angry. It said, "Chocolate WILL MAKE IT BETTER!" And I realize it's just a saying, advertising gimmick, but NO IT WON'T!! Nothing "makes it better" except handling whatever is causing the pain/stress. So boooo chocolate shop!
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Old 04-25-2007, 12:13 PM   #11  
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I have definitely used food for all the wrong reasons. For me, with stress, it depends on how bad the stress is. A few yrs. ago my DH was shot while working as a State Trooper, I didn't eat a bite for 3 days until I knew he was going to be OK. Then, I ate everything in site.

I tend to over-eat when I'm happy or excited about something. Plus, I definitely find that I eat out of boredom at times.

Last week I was truly stressed over a situation with my SD. I ate too much and gained wt. that I'm now trying desperately to get off.
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Old 04-25-2007, 05:07 PM   #12  
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I find family get togethers stressful and I always overeat. Other things in life that make me feel stressed don't cause the same reaction. I don't know why, but I'm glad I only have the one situation, and since I'm now more aware of it, I am better at being able to control it.

The emotion that elicites overeating for me is boredom. I get a thought in my mind that something will taste good. That it would be fun to eat. It has nothing to do with hunger. Lately, I've been much better at identifying when I'm truly hungry or when I'm bored.
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Old 04-26-2007, 02:10 AM   #13  
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I use foods for all types of emotions, and it may seem strange but i have differant foods for moods im in
It works both ways if im happy, have had good news, managed to do some thing i couldnt before then i use sweet foods...(pink & whites)
if im feeling really down and upset then i reach for bread and cake type foods.

so if i can recognise the triggers, shouldnt i be able to control them..
NO is the reply, if i could i wouldnt be at the weight im at.

ban all kinds of emotions .....................mmmm dont think that will work
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