On my previous entry I have discussed about anorexia/bulimia and how it correlates to mental and emotional health. Today’s topic I will be shedding light on the other spectrum with food. Over eating… Even though the two are complete opposites they both have one thing in common. People fall into these conditions due to lack of emotional fulfillment within their lives.
Right now, let’s explore the other side of over indulging. Before we get into this further, as I have said in many of of my entries, I am not a professional doctor or specialist in mental and emotional health. Also, I am not a nutritionist. I love blogging about internal health, because I am a strong advocate about mental health. I want to spread the word about it to break the stigma. I believe once we break the stigma, the world can be a better and compassionate place. With that being said, let’s slide into this emotional ride.
So what is emotional eating exactly? It’s when someone eats large portion amount of food as a response to feelings other than hunger. The reason as to why a person may do such a thing is personal. But the common sources are; relaxing and tuning out from the tv (Binge Eating Disorder – BED), boredom, and depression/stressful moment.
Sadness can be easily be mistaken to hunger, since food triggers to chemical reactions in the brain linked to mood. This sometimes causes horrible consequences like diabetes, inflammation, high blood pressure, pleasure deficiency, and of course eating disorder. Despite all this, 43% of people eat to alter their mood.
Thirty-eight percent of adults say they have overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods in the past month because of stress. Half of these adults (49 percent) report engaging in these behaviors weekly or more. Thirty-three percent of adults who report overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress say they do so because it helps distract them from stress. Twenty-seven percent of adults say they eat to manage stress and 34 percent of those who report overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress say this behavior is a habit. In the past month, 30 percent of adults report skipping a meal due to stress. Forty-one percent of adults who report skipping a meal due to stress report doing it weekly or more. The majority of adults (67 percent) who report skipping meals due to stress attribute it to a lack of appetite. Twenty-six percent say they skipped a meal because they did not have time to eat. After having overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods, half of adults (49 percent) report feeling disappointed in themselves, 46 percent report feeling bad about their bodies and more than one-third (36 percent) say they feel sluggish or lazy. After skipping meals due to stress, 24 percent say they feel sluggish or lazy and 22 percent report being irritable.
I can relate to this, because I have been an emotional eater since I was a kid. For me, dealing with hard times in a young age was difficult. I was raised to bottle my feelings, but dealing with the pain in silence was unbearable. So I turned to food for instant gratification. I went from a skinny kid to a chubby one over night. However in a young age the chubbiness was looked upon as adorable. Almost like Theodore from the Chipmunks.
It was when I got into my tweens it stopped being cute and started to look unpleasant. So I got into a lot of sports. It was mainly because I was a a huge tomboy, but my parents endorsed it more so due to my weight. They were not happy how their daughter managed to get so fat. Even being the sports club, basketball, soccer, and two different dance classes I was still fat. Which brought disappointment to my parents, but they didn’t complain because I was a physically active child.
Though I was, eating chips and candy almost everyday, it didn’t help. The fact I lived in the city and those things were accessible made it easy to grab the junk food. Yes, getting involve in sports, the arts, and science activities helped for a healthy outlet to manage my depression. But I still felt empty inside.
Sitting down, watching Carson Daily hosting TRL or A. J. Calloway and Marie “Free” Wright hosting 106 Park, and stuffing my face with chips, cookies, and candies was my escape. I always felt like home in the moment. Food was my gateway drug to get over the fact I was bullied at school. It was my way to run away from my parents screaming in the other room which leads to my father laying his hands on my mom. It took me away from feeling lonely, useless, and unwanted. But later that night before I go to sleep I will look at myself in the mirror in such regret and self hate. Cried myself to sleep with so many depressing and suicidal thoughts.
My eating habits changed over night around third-teen years old. My older cousin came by to visit for a while and let’s just say she left a impression on me. It wasn’t a massive change ,but progress. I was a late bloomer. My growth spurt kicked in later which gave me slender body. But I was still on my old habits during my high school days. It was just dialed down. Even more dialed down when girls at my school claiming to be 100 lbs, but think they were tremendously fat. I, who was way beyond that weight range thought, “If they think they are fat then what am I?”
Through out high school I have believed I was fat, but looking back at my pictures I was nowhere near close. I was a twig. If anything I needed to eat the way I did in my tweens during my teens. However, it all hit me as I started college. I started to gain immense weight. The first three years were fine, because I was forming a more womanly shape. All the fat were going in the “right places”. By senior, things turned south. The anxiety of senior thesis, making sure I graduated, and etc. was overwhelming that I gained a lot of weight in one year.
I graduated college as 300 pounds and my mom was angry and disappointed in me. I was disappointed in myself too. Graduating around the time of the recession did not help. It was challenging to find a job and my parents put a lot of pressure on me to obtain one. Despite the stress, the free time gave me the chance to go to gym often. Living at home was easier to eat healthier. Dropped to 150 lbs in a year. Then I finally was hired to my first “adult job” and I gained a lot of weight from the stress of the job. Went up to 275 lbs and it took me a year and a half to drop back down to 150 lbs. I have gained back the weight and trying to lose weight it again.
There have been always obstacles in my life I have to face. Sometimes these causes weight loss, but most of the time weight gain. Often it’s trying to escape from reality with food. Most of the time the anxiety is too much that a craving of two triple beef burgers, a large fry, two dessert treats, and nuggets is what my body demands. Sometimes I fall weak to the cravings. But lately I have been doing better.
Self discipline has been the key to avoid falling for the same mistake. Also reminding myself how I will feel after I eat all that. As well, asking myself if I am really hungry. Really evaluating the situation and my feelings. Studies show we tend to confuse hunger and thirst. So I drink water and if I feel fine then I was really thirsty. Before getting a 2nd plate of food I drink a whole cup of water and wait it out. Usually I will be full after the cup and it stops me from overindulging. If I am still hungry after that cup I grab a second plate but smaller food portion and healthier options onto my plate.
I don’t watch tv when I eat. I have background music, reading articles on the internet, or talking to a friend/family member as I eat. Then I’ll watch something that I know it’s 30 minutes long. Enough time frame to digest the food. Follow up with doing stuff around the house. Any little bit of movement counts; doing laundry, sweeping, taking out the trash and etc. Watch additional 30 minutes of tv with dessert. I’m all about sweets and chocolates. But I treat fruits as desserts and always pick dark chocolate. Substituting is a great way to satisfy your body without feeling bad afterwards.
These techniques help me to be mindful, discipline, and accountable on my food choices. I’m not perfect. I still go to drive-through time to time or eat a whole box of cookies by myself, but I try not to beat myself up when it happens and continue on my current path. Because that’s the other side of emotional eating. Is realizing you will fail many times, but learning to not let your emotions get the best of you in the process of self improvement is key.
I hope this entry helped to see clearer about emotional eating. Do you know an emotional eater? Are you an emotional eater? What triggers you to grab some junk food? What is your go-to junk food to cope with the stress? Do you have any tricks on how to curve the craving? Please comment below. I love reading what my readers have to say. Until next time my Michy Minions, anything is possible if we just adult one day at a time. xoxo
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