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Old 01-08-2006, 05:01 AM   #1  
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Default Emotional Eating

Since starting to eat healthfully I have discovered that I am an extreme emotional eater. While I was in the throes of stuffing my face constantly I always convinced myself that I was eating such large quantities of food simply because I enjoyed the taste and texture of it and the act of eating; apparently I was deluding myself. Now that I am limiting my food intake and making smarter choices, every time I feel upset I feel an urge to binge in an attempt to soothe the feelings and escape. (This makes it clear to me that my previous bingeing wasn't just an enjoyment of food.) My problem is that I don't want to give into these urges, but I don't know how to deal with the issues behind them in a constructive way. If anybody has any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it. Hopefully somebody else has gone through this and has a couple of tricks up their sleeves that they can show me.

Thank you in advance!
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Old 01-08-2006, 08:21 AM   #2  
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First of all, congratulations on taking some very big steps towards a healthier you. I can truly relate to what you have described and have battled these same urges to eat almost all my life. Consequently, I just keep gaining weight. Even now that I have put myself back in control, I still find myself staring into the cupboard or frig for something when I am bored or have nothing to do.

For me, keeping busy has helped. I have started piano lessons, have joined a choir, volunteer in the local community. Keeping my hands and mind occupied helps. So does being with others outside of my home. Dusting off that dreaded treadmill and pushing myself to exercise does as well. My worst time is in the evening when it is too cold outside to do anything other than watch TV and stay warm. Even then, I drink my water and crochet.

These may not reach the core of my problems, but really do break that habit of stuffing myself for no good reason. Good luck to you. Come back and chat more often.
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Old 01-08-2006, 08:24 AM   #3  
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In my case I was always concerned that I would hurt someone else if I spoke my mind, If i said what was bothering me.
I no longer hold in those emotions. When im scared or frightened or stressing I dont reach for the food to comfort me I try to get a workout in. This is a great stress reducer.
I also have learned that I need to put myself first. If I havent worked out for the day I dont look and see the clothes need to be washed or the dishes need to be done or the bedroom needs to be cleaned. I see that I need to get my workout in before my day is over with.
Dont hold nothing in. Get out of the habit of looking in the kitchen when your stressing.
Food is only for survival. Yes something can taste good and all but food is so you can survive not for comfort or enjoyment.
You can beat the stress eating just take a look at yourself and dig deep and find that inner strength that you do have to not look to the food for comfort.
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Old 01-08-2006, 04:23 PM   #4  
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I'm in a similar situation battling emotional eating. I have used food subconsciously for years to numb myself - and I can say it is VERY hard to reverse that. I get cravings quite often, and it is a battle every time to not give in. Yesterday I was running errands, for example, and I was hungry for lunch but got the idea in my mind that I wanted "junk" food for lunch. Every fast food place I drove by looked tempting. I know being hungry didn't help, but I did see that after about 15-20 minutes, while I was still driving around, the "urge" subsided, and I was home and made a healthy choice for lunch. I know that my urge to eat junk was driven by stress I had been feeling all week - but knowing that doesn't make it any easier to know how to fight it. I think we all know the things we "should" do when we have the urge to emotionally eat - but the reality is we can't always stop our lives to take care of our emotions in that moment - we;ve learned that it's so much easier to block them out with a donut. For me it doesn't matter how busy I am (though it does help), each day I am confronted with emotionally driven junk food cravings...they can be very powerful and it is an ongoing struggle to overcome them. I look forward to any tips anyone has on how they deal with this problem.
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Old 01-08-2006, 04:47 PM   #5  
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I'm not in a position to give you advice as I was the exact opposite of you. For years I claimed that emotional eating was my problem. But as I began to eat more mindfully I realized that I just overate. Period. It didn't matter what my emotional state was or if I was eating something particularly good - I just ate a lot, and often. Eating was basically a form of entertainment for me.

I can say that keeping busy has been a lifesaver for me. Of course, you'll want to address the trigger issues that make you want to eat. In the meantime, just focusing on something BESIDES food when those emotions set in should help. I know it sounds cliche, but exercise is a terrific stress reliever and it gives you a little alone time to calm down think about what is going on OR just lose yourself and let the stress go for a while.
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Old 01-08-2006, 05:33 PM   #6  
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Thanks for the info. I do exercise and it does help with stress. My therapist has helped me understand that I need to learn to sometimes just "be" with feelings. In my ideal world I would never feel anything bad...and food was a way to help me do that. So part of this new way of life is accepting bad feelings...which is just hard.

My question for you, is since you believe emotional eating wasn't your problem, once you decided to eat less were you able to do it? I have a hard time believing that anyone eats a lot for no reason at all. I don't see eating as a form of entertainment or as a simple cure for boredom, especially for someone who is overweight. People chose to eat in those circumstances because food provides both a psychological and chemical "boost." That is why for most people, just eating less is just not as easy as it seems.

Thanks for the advise on trying to focus on other things besides food. I feel so happy that I am at the stage where I can recognize these triggers - before I just ate mindlessly, with no idea why.
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Old 01-08-2006, 06:38 PM   #7  
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Yes, once I decided to eat less I was able to do so and it was relatively easy. In my case being overweight was a combination of a two things - eating to much of the wrong kinds of food and leading a VERY sedentary lifestyle. Now, that isn't to say that I never, ever drowned my sorrows in a bowl of ice cream. I think everybody does that sometimes. But, in my case, that kind of eating wasn't the driving behavior behind my weight gain. I still tend to want to overeat when I am bored. Or, a lot of the time, if I'm avoiding some task (anything from doing laundry to running errands) because I just don't feel like doing it. I'll catch myself wanting to munch instead. And, quite honestly, there are some foods that I like so much that it is hard to turn them down (or eat in moderation) whether I'm hungry or not. So, when I say it was easy to eat less once I decided to I'm not implying that I don't still have trigger foods that I have to be careful about.

Also, part of what made eating less easier for me was that I was beginning to suffer health issues related to my weight. That gave me a REASON to eat less, eat healthier, and move more.

I wholeheartedly agree that food can provide a psychological and chemical boost. I don't necessarily believe that there is ALWAYS some underlying issue behind weight issues though. I recognize that there often are and I certainly don't discount those people who struggle with them every day. But, I have also found a lot of people who are looking for a crutch or an excuse to avoid responsibilty for their eating habits. I was definately one of them. Although, I admit, that as my weight got higher and higher over the years it did impact how I felt about myself and I am sure that fed my desire to overeat to an extent as well. But, again, my "issues" were a result of the weight gain - not the other way around.
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Old 01-08-2006, 07:14 PM   #8  
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I just wanted to add a couple of words - of support and warning. First of all, the support: it's so great to finally take charge of your emotions and eating habits. I wish you all the best of luck.

Then the warning: when I tried to stop my emotional eating I became very guilty about eating at all - even when I needed to eat. I stopped eating well because I was depressed and felt I had to "punish" myself. I lost 30 pounds but it certainly wasn't healthy. Luckily my situation changed, and I was able to put a stop to what could have been a nosedive into more serious problems. So be careful and make a note of what you eat! Every bite I put into my mouth I have to remind myself that I deserve to eat it.

It's the balance that's important, and I hope you are able to find it.
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Old 01-08-2006, 07:43 PM   #9  
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If reading is helpful for you, I would recommend checking out one of the books by Geneen Roth - "When Food Is Love" and "Feeding the Hungry Heart" are two good ones. Her books really helped me to break the link between food and emotion. Unfortunately her recommendation of intuitive eating didn't really work for me - I have been overweight so long that I have no concept of what is a reasonable portion.
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Old 01-08-2006, 09:34 PM   #10  
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This is just a suggestion, because I too eat when stressed, upset, or bored. A tip I have started to do: When I feel the need to eat I make myself stop and think, "Am I really hungry?" usually the answer is no. When that happens, I either get a glass of water, or go do something to distract myself. For me that's either getting online and looking at this board, working on art (as I'm an artist in my non-existant free time) or cleaning up (obviously, this is usually the last on the list). Find a hobby you enjoy, or even a book and pick that up, if you can, when you have those cravings!

Hope something in there helps...and good luck!

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Old 01-08-2006, 11:28 PM   #11  
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I have neither support, nor suggestions. But, I am very glad you posted this thread. My husband and I had a knock down drag out tonight, and, while we're on better terms now, the movie is over and he went to bed. Leaving me hungry, upset and alone (a deadly combination). I was just about to rummage through the pantry for some food. Knowing my track record, I probably would have walked back with some [err...the rest] of the cheesecake sitting in the fridge. Reading this has made me a bit more mindful when I go in there to get something to eat.
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Old 01-09-2006, 06:06 AM   #12  
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yes emotional eating is my achilles heel too. when i am feeling balanced and motivated towards something good and exciting in my life my eating is fine. but when i am bored, happy sad mad glad (as the saying goes) i reach for food. it is really hard to break. some of it is habit and some is deliberate but i definitely have a tendency to binge when things go wrong. or to celebrate etc etc

mindful eating does work for me but i have to work really hard at it. the truth is i often eat when i have no physical need.

i found those books by geneen roth to be good, i think also susan powter's books were good.

the other thing that helps me is to journal. i try to get into the habit of hournalling when i am upset instead of reaching for food. i will do really well for a few weeks and do the journalling and then completely forget about it and slip into old habits. it's taking me a long time to retrain myself

this is a good thread! let's keep sharing. i'll come back tmrw and have another look!
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Old 01-11-2006, 10:32 AM   #13  
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Default emotional eating

I'm not sure if I can help much, but
I do notice that since losing weight, all my problems have NOT gone away. Sure, I'm more comfortable physically. That helps a LOT.
In some ways, though, I feel like a coping mechanism has been taken from me. I gladly make the trade, though!
I feel like a lot of issues I have are coming to the surface, which I think is a good thing, if I can find a way of dealing with them.
I'm also able to succinctly and accurately pinpoint exactly when I'm having an emotional eating urge. It's amazing. It's such a familiar feeling, too.
By no means do I feel like I'm "out of the water", however. I can see how easy it is to slide back into old habits. I have to
-try to remember that it's harder to be heavy AND unhappy
-find ways of coping with these feelings that do not involve eating
It's not easy but it's worth it!
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