Friday, January 13, 2012

Don't get emotional about emotional eating

Tomorrow is my official weigh-in day, but I peeked at the scale this this morning and it looks like I am only one pound away from being in the 130s. That brings my weight loss total to 12.5 pounds, leaving me an even twenty pounds still to go.

While I'm moving along at a slow but steady clip and feel good about my progress so far, one of the biggest challenges for me has always been emotional eating. When I get stressed, or if I'm upset my first instinct has  always been to sooth it with food without thinking. In the short-term I would feel better, but then it would occur to me what I was doing to myself and I would just feel worse. Over-doing it with the self-medicating with food is, after all, how I ended up needing to lose thirty pounds in the first place! So even though I've been doing great, I was also constantly dreading the next emotional or stressful situation that might send me spiraling out of control.

But then one day I had something of an emotional eating epiphany. I realized I was thinking of food as the enemy, but that isn't true. We all need to eat, after all. Not to mention, food matters to me, and not just as fuel. I enjoy the technique and artistry of cooking. I enjoy the total sensory experience of eating. I love sharing what I've cooked with others. When things are hectic, it is natural for me to turn to food to feel better. It is just a part of who I am, so why should I make myself feel bad about it? After all, I don't beat myself up because bad knees means I can't run. No, I just find other ways to exercise that fit my limitations. My epiphany was when I realized it was time to think about emotional eating the same way.

One of the great things Weight Watchers has taught me is to be more mindful of what I'm eating, and why I'm eating it. Now that I understand emotional eating is just one of my unique characteristics, I can manage it appropriately, sans guilt. I started paying more attention to which flavors, textures and types of foods gave me the most satisfaction when I did eat emotionally and which lead to uncontrolled binging. Now I know which foods to avoid entirely, and what key foods to keep on hand in the pantry to satisfy my occasional need to munch the stress of the day away without packing on tons of calories or fat. Maria cookies, popcorn, almonds, grapes and slices of homemade protein-packed bread are now some of my go-to items.

I hope to reach my weight loss goal by late spring. I'm sure I'll still have my good days and my not-so good days along the way, but at least I no longer fear derailing myself through uncontrolled emotional eating.

One of my go-to items: A freshly baked loaf of my homemade zero-fat, high protein bread made with Spelt flour

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I love the process of how you shifted your frame of mind about eating. When I used to run, I found myself feeling limited by the nutrition's meal plan for me. I started binge eating as I counted the calories, forgetting what food and eating really meant to me!

    Thanks for sharing your story, Kelly! Congrats on all the healthy weight loss already and best of luck with the move!