Friday, January 7, 2011

Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Over-Eating

I am an emotional eater. To anyone who has ever met me and hung around for more than a week or so, this is little to no surprise.

Promotion or good grades? Let's go get some ice cream!
Romantic date with the hubby? Let's go out to dinner!
Bad day? I need Ben & Jerry's.... STAT!
Depressed and self-loathing? Give me something with sugar that I can put in my face.

All of this led to my ass being too fat to fit into most chairs and the scale to turn in it's two week notice. It led to me hating myself even more, and eating even more. It's a vicious cycle that needed to be broken.

I'm not sure if it's my southern roots that led me to seek food as both an award and a bandage, because it  was always equated with love as I was going up. Or if it was just the safest, least threatening way to feel better about myself. As an award it was safe because I wasn't being extravagant on something I didn't truly need. We all need to eat to live, right? And as a bandage it was easier than saying that I was hurting. Food was much safer than crying. It was safer than making myself vulnerable by expressing my pain.

While I have broken the cycle for the most part (and I will get to that here in a moment) I am not entirely free from it. There are days that are just so bad that I need something. I need that comfort or that pick-me-up. The difference now is that I get something small. A bite of chocolate. A mini-cup of Ben & Jerry's. One cookie. Keeping it in moderation. And not beating myself up for it afterward. I may be working towards being a healthier person, but I am still a person. I am human from head to toe.

How did I break the habit, you're wondering, yes? Surprisingly it was easier than I had expected. All I had to do was to start eating healthier and record everything that I put in my mouth. The first few days are rough. VERY rough. But the longer I went without the junk that I so craved on both an emotional and physical level, the easier it was to turn away from it. It's not a struggle anymore to pass on the donuts after a meeting at work, or to leave the marshmallows alone that were left over from Christmas. Simply because I know now that I can eat just one, if I want it. All I need to do is record it along with everything else I've eaten that day and make room for it. It's not a sin or a black mark on my healthy diet record. It's just something else to account for.

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