I’ve talked honestly before about how I was an emotional eater, but over the last few years I’ve worked on it a lot, and I thought I’d banished the monster (or at least got him on a very tight rein). It seems that’s not the case.
Once an emotional eater…?
I recently had some very bad news about someone close to me, and it totally threw me. All the tips and tricks I picked up for coping with emotional eating, all the habits I thought I’d ingrained and the strategies I’d developed for distracting myself, well they all went out the window. I immediately turned to food to comfort myself and ate everything in sight. I turned into some horrible mutant mash up of Oscar the Grouch and the Cookie Monster and it wasn’t pretty. If I wasn’t crying, or shouting at someone, I was eating. At some points I was doing all 3 things at once. Basically I fell off the wagon big time.
One thing leads to another
Then I made it worse by going off food completely. I alternated between eating all sorts of rubbish and nothing at all. I think what made it worse is that I knew what I was doing, I knew I was being a classic emotional eater. I also knew that on some subconscious level I was avoiding eating “proper” food to balance that out in some way – not a healthy place to be at all.
I stopped exercising too and then I started to feel really rubbish. Not only was I emotionally upset but I was feeling physically unwell because I was eating junk and not exercising. Plus I was mentally beating myself up about falling into the emotional eater trap and worrying that I wasn’t being strong enough for the rest of the family.
What brought it to a head was getting weighed after a week or so break … I’d put on 6lb. Though the previous time I’d got weighed, I’d put on 3.5lb. I had written that off as being “time of the month” weight. Normally that disappears the week after, but obviously didn’t this time. So in total I had actually put on 9.5lb.
Nine and a half pounds. That’s like a whole (large!) baby worth of weight. That’s almost a quarter of all the weight I’ve lost in 20 months and I’ve put it back on in the space of a couple of weeks. What kind of idiot am I?
Turning it around
Well, I’m the kind of idiot that (thankfully) has very good friends and family. Within the space of 24hrs three different people told me the same advice. It is the kind of advice that’s absolutely obvious to someone looking in, but the last thing you think of when you’re living it. They all told me that it’s ok not to feel ok, that being sad is allowed, and that that I don’t have to be “perfect” all the time.
I know that, of course I know that its OK to be upset. But having three people remind me, made it obvious that despite knowing its OK to be upset, I wasn’t OK with it. I didn’t want to feel sad and upset, and I was trying to block out the feelings with food. It might have worked for a few minutes (though I’m not sure it actually did) but in the end it made me feel worse.
So now I’m trying to tell myself it’s OK to be sad. I don’t need to squash that away and pretend it’s not happening. Nobody expects or needs me to be perfect and strong all the time. I’ve forced myself to get back to exercising and remembered that I do actually enjoy it.
Jennie and I are also doing a bit of accountability buddying so I can get back in control of what I’m eating, and so far it’s working. I’m being easier on myself, and some days just letting myself be sad, and weirdly I feel much better, and even more weirdly, that means I feel much stronger and better able to help the rest of the family. I’m still sad. I think I will be for quite a while but that is OK.
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