On yesterday’s post, I got a question about why I’m not going back to Whole 30. I responded, saying I thought it was a great program and the science behind the book is wonderful, but the restriction (all or nothing) doesn’t necessarily work for me. The past few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking… Thinking about how I lost weight in the past. I’ve looked at pictures in the archives to see how I looked, and I remembered how I felt. I thought about my happiest times, my most successful times, and I’ve been trying (not always successfully!) to use those memories as a positive, not a negative about how far I’ve fallen, how quickly I’ve gained weight/lost cardio endurance/grown out of my clothes.
Emotional eating is a big problem for me. Using food as a “knee-jerk” reaction to a situation, to soothe, to control, to comfort and eliminate any feeling I don’t want to feel. A dear friend and I had coffee this weekend, and she provided a lot of insight regarding emotional eating and the aspects of our relationships with food. Emotional eating is the same reaction as drinking, smoking, compulsively exercising or any other “vice” or “coping mechanism” we might use during difficult times: the only difference is that people can see it. Literally – your bulging pants, your stretched skirt, the extra rolls around your neck, your puffy face.
I don’t think I’m ever going to eliminate emotional eating. But I do think I can manage it. I think I can look at emotional eating as a coping mechanism – when absolutely necessary – not daily. It absolutely cannot be a part of my daily life. For example, any minimal to moderately stressful event (i.e. a nasty email, an unhappy employee, traffic) cannot send me straight to the fro-yo place. But a really significant event (changing jobs, moving, 11/10 stress) can probably warrant a piece of chocolate cake. And that’s ok.
This blog calls it “Reactive Eating” instead of “Emotional Eating”. and says the following:
What we are struggling with is “reactive eating”. And as the definition of reactive states, it is a result of stress or emotional upset especially from factors outside the organism. Meaning, most of your reactive eating is going to be from a person, place or thing that triggers a stress and emotional response.
Finally, this Web MD article on feeding your feelings speaks exactly to what I want (and need):
For some, leaving comfort foods behind when they’re dieting can be emotionally difficult. Wansink, PhD tells WebMD, “The key is moderation, not elimination.” …. Remember that emotional eating is something that most people do when they’re bored, happy, or sad. It might be a bag of chips or a steak, but whatever the food choice, learning how to control it and using moderation are key.
I can’t hold myself to a perfect standard. I know that I have a long, long life ahead of me – which doesn’t contain “perfect” choices. But I can be honest – honest with you and honest with myself. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I haven’t been doing my best. I haven’t been trying my best. Maybe I’ve been trying to “eliminate” instead of “manage”. Maybe my mind needs to shift and I need to think of eating and living in an entirely different way.
If I were outside, looking in – at myself and my choices I would say:
You can do better. You deserve to do better. You deserve to be happy and healthy. You know how to manage the small stuff – and you will be able to tackle the big stuff, too. At the end of the day, please please PLEASE ask yourself: ”have you done your absolute best today?”
Every. Single. Day.