Emotional eating at its finest.

August 31, 2009

Last Wednesday was a bad day. It was one of those days that I felt on the verge of tears all day long. Have you ever had a day like that? The the type of day that makes you want to curl into a ball on your bed? I’m not sure why I felt like this. Yes, it had been a stressful week, but nothing that warranted a complete meltdown.

As I was riding home that day, I made up my mind that not only was I going to skip the gym (hey! I had a bad day! I deserve a little mental health downtime!), but I was also going to grill up some leftover steak tips that I had in my freezer, and eat them all, along with a generous helping of instant mashed potatoes, and topped off with ice cream for dessert. Dear God, it was delicious. But I also knew what else it was.

Emotional eating at its finest.

I justified my Wednesday night gorge-fest with the fact that I KNEW what I was doing. I knew I shouldn’t skip the gym…I even knew doing so would most likely make me feel worse. (It did.) I also knew that eating until I felt like I was going to burst would not make that horrible, I-want-to-burst-into-tears feeling go away. (It didn’t.) So why didn’t I see these signs for what they were and stop myself?

The fact is, I didn’t care. Very rarely do I give into skipping the gym. I DO give into unhealthy foods a lot more often, but not enough to make what I did on Wednesday (I make it sound like a crime) alarming.

Emotional eating is a funny thing. It’s meant to make us feel better, but once it’s over with and we’re left with an empty plate, a full stomach, and the same feelings we had before we started, it has the potential to ruin an already bad day.

For me, eating is a distraction. Comfort foods (think cookies ‘n cream ice…or pizza! Yum!) lets me to concentrate on their pleasant taste and distracts me from whatever it is I’m stressed about. A very unhealthy habit indeed.

So what’s a person to do when that gigantic ice cream sundae is calling their name, beckoning their taste buds to indulge after a particularly horrible day? Allow me to give you some tips for the next time you find yourself reaching for that tub of ice cream, that bag of chips, or whatever your unhealthy-eating downfall is.

For one, know your triggers. Try keeping a food diary for a couple days. Record what you eat, how you feel when you eat it, and whether or not you are really, truly hungry. Over time, this can help reveal negative eating patterns and allow you to identify what triggers you to eat. When you are able to identify these triggers, think of other ways to comfort yourself besides food. If you find yourself reaching for those chips, leave and go for a walk or call a friend to chat. These distractions will allow your stressful feelings to pass and will keep you from eating.

Keeping your fridge stocked with healthy food, and avoiding unhealthy foods altogether, is a surefire way to avoid emotional eating. A balanced diet and exercise are natural mood enhancers. Your mood is more stable when you are in shape and well rested. Snack on healthy foods such as fresh veggies and fruit, and eat at regular intervals throughout the day. This will keep you from scarfing down anything in front of you at meal times.

Emotional eating is bound to happen to everyone at some point, and that’s ok. The important thing is to know your triggers and learn how to handle them…without food.

It’s not as easy as it sounds, and it’s something I’ve been working on almost my entire adult life. YES, I know I slipped up Wednesday, but hey! I’m human. We’re all allowed to make mistakes. I’ll get back on track this week. 🙂 And remember, it’s ok to indulge every once in a while. This is the only life you have. Enjoy it!


One Response to “Emotional eating at its finest.”

  1. […] I was thinking about ordering one of these and hanging it on my fridge, but I realized it would probably just make me depressed and then I would eat more, thus having the complete opposite effect on me. (As I wrote in a previous post, emotional eating at its finest!) […]

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