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Sunday, 18 March 2012

Emotional eating - yep we all do it!

18th March 2012

A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today!

It’s 4am and I’m sitting at a very tidy desk, I feel like I’m in someone else’s office and it’s slightly uncomfortable.  Why am I awake at 4am, I have no idea, something outside made a huge bang noise twice woke me and the dog up and now I can’t go back to sleep, so rather than lie there I’m going to be productive and I’ll have a snooze or a long soak in the bath this afternoon to make up for it.

So why is my office tidy?  Because instead of going for a walk on the chase yesterday, my mate Katie came round for a coffee and offered to help me tidy my office.  Oh my word, it was scary and she was brutal, she said things like, “I can’t believe you run a business from this office, a successful one at that!”   I remember saying at one point, wished I was tidier, and bless her I just loved her reply, it was something like, “no you don't cos then u wouldn't be you. You're the least messed up person I know, but your office is messed up, you collect stuff, it’s who you are!”

I love that she accepts me for who I am, dusty, cluttered office and all ;-) 

I’ve had a crazy month, this is the first weekend I’ve been home for four weekend, its been a month where I’ve realised how much I’ve changed as a person, fourteen different people I’ve spent time with on those weekends away – 14!  I can’t believe I have that many friends in my life and there are more besides, I've always been a loner so this is new territory for me and I like it. 

This week however has been difficult for me because I've realised how many people I now have in my life that I truly care about.   Some of them have been hurting this week and I’ve felt their pain and not been able to do anything, that’s not easy.

We all have stressful times in our lives and we all deal with them differently, but a common thing is comfort eating, which lets be honest doesn’t actually solve anything and probably makes it worse.  I’m glad I don’t really do that anymore, but it’s got me to thinking ‘why don’t I?’

I think it’s because I’ve realised comfort eating makes me overweight which makes me self-conscious and miserable which would make me eat more, so I’ve broke the cycle, I now remind myself of those feeling whenever I’m stressed out and find myself in the kitchen.

For me it’s also been important to realise emotional eating doesn’t just happen when I’m stressed or grumpy, it can sneak in on happy occasions to, celebrations etc, any excuse to overeat! 
My weight still fluctuates, but it doesn’t keep going up and up, I may have a week when I gain a pound or two but that normally comes off the week after, I’ve been maintaining for over two years.  I still should be half a stone lighter according to the charts, but if you notice the word ‘SHOULD’ in this sentence, that I believe is my stumbling block for that last half stone, I’m comfortable at the weight I am, I’m happy in my skin, I have my eating under control and I’m more active than I’ve been in years, so what I SHOULD be isn’t motivating me at all because the word brings guilt with it.  So if I say I could be half stone lighter, I may get there, I may not, I’m still trying to decide if I want to or if I want to continue with my maintenance programme.  Decisions, decisions!

So do you comfort eat, of course you do, we all are emotional eaters to some extent, emotional eating is normal, normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad, bored or just because it feels good.  What’s nicer than eating a few chocolates because it’s mothers day!  Nothing as long as it doesn’t make you feel guilty or stop you losing weight this week, and if it does stop you losing this week but you’ve decided it was worth the trade off then it’s not a problem.  But if it’s interfering with your weight loss or getting you down then you need to find ways to cope.  That’ may be meditation or exercise or something I’ve taught myself to do – FEEL!

Yeah I feel the strong emotions and yes sometimes they’re painful but when did we get so afraid of feelings? After all, emotions, including the negative ones, are a natural part of being human. Everyone experiences them on a daily basis. Yet so many cope with difficult emotions by repressing them, its become an automatic habit to sweep unpleasant feelings under the rug and to stop consciously noticing what the body is feeling.

Yes those feelings can be unpleasant but so can being overweight!  This week my emotions have actually felt physical, from a knot in my stomach, to a gripping feeling in my chest and tension in my head, but eating a doughnut wouldn’t have taken them away for more than seconds. 

A natural response is to seek some way to make ourselves feel better and for most it’s eating, it’s serves as a temporary solution to those feelings of sadness, depression, hurt, anger, self-hate, guilt, stress, boredom, and so on.  You’re trying to protect yourself from feeling pain. It is a coping strategy designed to keep you safe, however that suppression comes with a price.  

Remind yourself that FEELING isn't fatal.  Realise those emotions once released can be processed and you can move on - you will not cry forever. The anger will not keep on exploding forever. The pain will not go on forever.  And once they’ve passed you can heal.

Eating a doughnut won’t solve any of your problems, and they always taste better when not eaten under stressful conditions or to make yourself feel better.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there, if you do eat chocolate today, enjoy it, don’t do guilt – either track it, or accept that the scales might not shift in the direction you want them to this week. x
(it could be worse, not sure how, but it could be. Eeyore)

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