I got this great comment on Thursday from Foodie McBody:
You know what is the most impressive to me? Is how you clearly had such an intense and emotional relationship to food, which has its claws in so many of us and how you managed to turn that around. I think that is the key, the pivotal turning point. Because really it’s not just about “eat less, move more” – it’s about changing the emotional and psychological mindset that drives the secretive, shameful behavior. I would love it if you could write more about your emotional journey and what it was like to change those aspects of your relationship to food.
And this one from Fitzi:
I’m with Foodie McBody in that I’m intensely curious as to how you flipped the switch and willed yourself to change your emotional orientation toward food. I find this so painful to cope with, and have never succeeded in the long term at doing this.
After reading those comments I realized, not for the first time of course, that I wasn’t the only one who struggled with an unhealthy emotional relationship to food. And for me, that’s what it was – an unhealthy relationship. I can sugar coat it, dress it up, or dance around the wording, but that’s what it comes down to for me. I had a problem with food.
I want to thank Foodie McBody and Fitzi for asking this question, but I also want to assure them, and anyone else that is reading this, that although it’s a hard battle to win, it is a winnable battle. I’m no different than anyone else who has struggled with obesity. I’ll do my best to share what worked for me, and maybe it will put you on further on the path to victory.
Food was near and dear to me. I thought about it all the time. I worried if I didn’t have enough. I desired more than I needed.
When I started on my journey for the last time, I focused on three things. Eating, Emotions, Exercise. Another day, I’ll talk about my eating plan and exercise, but for today I’ll start with the emotional struggles. You know if you’ve read my blog for any length of time that I had issues with food. So, when I was standing on the doctor’s scale feeling really scared for my health, and my life, I knew I had a decision to make. I could either continue down the obesity road, or I could do an “about-face” and work my way back to health.
The eating plan fell into place, as did the exercise, but the emotional part was the piece of the puzzle that most often threatened to derail my plans and desires. To combat the tendency to fall off the wagon because of emotional issues, the first thing I did was keep an “emotions journal.” (I’m not into journaling per se, but in this case it definitely served its purpose.) What I did was write down how I felt every time I ate something, and more importantly, I wrote down how I was feeling when I felt the urge to eat something that wasn’t on my plan. Over a period of about two weeks I had many different notations, but among the notations I saw a pattern emerge.
Worried. . . . Frustrated. . . . Sad. . . . Bored. . . . Scared. . . . Out of Control. . . . Jealous. . . . Lonely. . . . Upset. . . . Anxious. . . . Stressed Out
I realized that for me, it wasn’t just one emotion that sent me running for my secret stash, but rather it was a range of emotions. That was actually eye opening to me, because if you had asked me when I was first beginning the journey, I would have said I only ate when I was stressed, but that wasn’t actually accurate.
Recognition and realization were the first step in conquering my emotional attachments to food. Over the next weeks and months I was amazed at how often I desired to overeat. Even after I had lost a substantial amount of weight (maybe 75 or 80 pounds) the strong, strong desire for chocolate, candy, and cookies was still there. But instead of giving into it, I had started to get a foothold on conquering my dependency on food.
Because this post is going on longer than I had planned, I’m going to stop here, and finish on Monday. If you are on a weight loss journey yourself, I’d encourage you to take some time today, and over the weekend, and start to examine what emotions you are feeling when you feel the desire to eat food you know you shouldn’t be eating. I’d be very interested in hearing what you expect to find, and if what you expected, turned out to be different than your reality.