Emotional Eating

I have been kind of in denial about my emotional eating problems until I really thought about it. For me, the number one reason that I eat aside from being hungry is boredom. I feel like I need to much on something while watching TV, browsing Facebook, reading blogs, or doing homework. We live in a culture where our primary form of entertainment often involves eating. So for me, bored eating is number one. But I also eat when sad, angry, or happy. So I did what any good internet user would do when faced with a problem: I Googled it. Here is what I came up with. (And Chrome, you should really make “Google”‘s verb forms a word in your dictionary. After all, Google makes you).

From The Mayo Clinic:

The connection between mood, food and weight loss

“Emotional eating is eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. Both major life events and the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your weight-loss efforts. These triggers may include:

  • Unemployment
  • Financial pressure
  • Health problems
  • Relationship conflicts
  • Work stress
  • Bad weather
  • Fatigue”

So I began to think about my life lately. I lost my job in February and haven’t been able to come up with a viable option since then. Of course, no job causes financial pressure. “Health Problems…” hmm, let’s see. I have type one diabetes! Relationship conflicts…everyone deals with these on a regular basis. I am no different. Work stress is irrelevant since as of now I do not work. This winter, we sure had our share of bad weather. Snow storm after snowstorm, just like much of the country above the Mason-Dixie line (and some below). And fatigue. Well, that good ole Black Dog sure does help me out in that department.

From the same Mayo Clinic link above:

Whatever emotions drive you to overeat, the end result is often the same. The emotions return, and you may also now bear the additional burden of guilt about setting back your weight-loss goal. This can also lead to an unhealthy cycle — your emotions trigger you to overeat, you beat yourself up for getting off your weight-loss track, you feel badly, and you overeat again.

Ummm. *Raises hand* “ME! ME! ME! I feel that way every single day!!”

But how do we combat emotional eating?

So I began thinking. Am I truly addicted to the way food makes me feel, and is that why I decide to eat when I am sad, happy, upset, angry, or bored? I really think that I am. I am addicted to food, and not only that, but fatty, carb-filled, calorie-filled food.

So what is the solution?

I would very much like to tell you that I have the answer. Unfortunately I have not overcome this obstacle yet. But that same Mayo Clinic Website (page 2, hence the linkage) provided these suggestions. I’ve added my comments, you can read about them in detail on the link above.

  • Have a hunger reality check and Keep a food diary. I talked about this on Monday, and I challenged you to do it with me. Have you been writing down every bite you eat as well as the reason you are eating? This is your hunger reality check.
  • Get support. For me, my boyfriend, my dad, and the Diabetes Online Community, as well as friends and my doctor have been my support (by the way, I saw my endo yesterday in case you missed it on twitter – will post about it next week).
  • Fight boredom. “Instead of snacking when you’re not truly hungry, distract yourself.” (from the Mayo link above). The distractions I am hoping for include volunteer activities and exercise. I read a suggestion on Diabetic Living a few weeks ago to do housework when you feel hungry – and if I can motivate myself, I plan on this. My parents always complain about how I don’t help around the house in exchange for my free rent – it’s a win-win situation.
  • Take away temptation. This has gotten easier as I have had less money for things I may have broken up with as well as things I need to break up with. But my tip to you is to resist that temptation to buy all those things you know you shouldn’t be eating at the grocery store. Here is one idea: it’s about time for Farmers Markets to start opening up, why not research and try your local FM?
  • Get enough sleep. Oh, this is a tough one for me. I am a night owl and tend to sleep too much during the day and not enough at night. Eight hours of restful sleep is a must and can help you achieve your weight loss goals as well as keep that mood in check, hence keeping the emotional eating in check!
  • Seek therapy. As I have said before, this is huge. Sometimes it is a must! My therapist who I see for diabetes issues, among others, suggested this book, and although I have yet to purchase it myself I’m going to suggest it to you in case it may help you. But above all, if you are really struggling, please, seek help. Don’t let stigma and bias get in your way.

Emotional eating may be one of the biggest hurdles I need to jump when it comes to overcoming the weight problem and controlling my diabetes. Are you with me?

Why are you finding yourself eating? Are your reasons often emotional ones, like mine?

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4 thoughts on “Emotional Eating

  1. Tina Shaye

    Great post Sarah!! I am so with you. I find I eat when I am bored. I love the idea of distaction but I am bored because I hurt too bad to do anything else but be immobile. Hopefully it will change soon. I really applaud you on finding the answer to why you eat and doing it so openly. I think you are my new inspiration!

    Reply
  2. Scott K. Johnson

    I’m much the same way. I’m really trying hard to get consistent with using Symlin, as that seems to make a big difference for me.

    I also totally agree with the sleep thing. If I don’t get enough sleep, I munch away the tired feelings (which never works).

    Reply

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