Emotional eating…we all do it

I think I have touched on this subject before, but I thought it would be worth talking about again – emotional eating. The kind of eating that most often leads us to trouble.

Wednesday morning, I was on my computer and decided to post something to my Confesssions of a Fat Girl Facebook page; this is what it was: "Don’t let emotions control your eating habits. If you are mad, sad, stressed or tired, don’t let food be your relief. Instead, call a friend, go for a walk, go work out or do anything that keeps you out of the refrigerator and your cupboards. If food is what you really want, grab an apple or an orange instead of a candy bar or bag of chips."

That post was at 6:44 a.m.

I went to my Weight Watchers meeting at 8 a.m. Want to know what the topic was? Yep, you guessed it. It was emotional eating. Weird, huh? It actually kind of freaked me out.

I know we have all done it. I have done it a ton lately, and I am not sure why. Maybe it’s the winter doldrums. I’m not much of a cold-weather person so I tend to stay cooped up inside the house quite a bit, which doesn’t help matters any.

So, when I am bored, I tend to take many trips into the kitchen. I open up the fridge, look around, most often not grabbing anything. Then, I go to the cupboards, open the doors, look around, most often not grabbing anything. But, sometimes, I grab something to eat every single time. And it’s not always something healthy. I bet there are days I do this at least 10 times. Now keep in mind, between these times, I haven’t gone grocery shopping or anything. So really, what do I expect when I open the doors to the cupboard or fridge eight hundred times a day? I mean seriously, all the food is the same. It’s not like some magic food fairy came by and filled the fridge with something magical!

But it’s not just when I am bored that I do this. If I have had a crappy day at work, which most often doesn’t happen (thankfully), I get home and do the same food-hunting process. Open the doors, look around and then most of the time, walk away. But I am not always fortunate enough to walk away. I don’t always have willpower or the strength. Sometimes I just grab something and don’t really even pay attention and just eat just to make myself feel better. Sometimes, it’s a piece of fruit and sometimes, it’s not. Maybe it’s a piece of candy or two or three or four…

But it’s not always boredom and frustration that causes me to go on my food hunts. Sometimes, I am anxious or sad or stressed or even happy. So, what can I do and what can you do? We can learn to read our body’s signals. We can learn to determine if it’s physical hunger or our emotions. At my meeting, the leader talked about identifying actual physical hunger – such as when our stomach growls or we feel lightheaded, have a loss of energy or even, get the shakes. These types of symptoms are signals that we are hungry and actually NEED food. Not just want it because it might make us feel better – for the short term anyway.

Most often, when I eat mindlessly because my emotions take over, I feel worse afterward because I will most often eat something I shouldn’t have or shouldn’t have had so much of. You know what I mean.

So, next time you are heading to the kitchen, stop. Think about what you are doing. Determine if you are really hungry – as in your have physical signs that your body needs to be refueled – or if it’s just your emotions taking over. If it turns out to be emotional eating, then do something else – put a puzzle together, paint, draw, exercise, read, chew on a piece of gum, call a family member or friend, exercise, take a bath, do some deep breathing, exercise, clean your house, clean your car, exercise…I think you get the picture. Do something other than eat. Unless, you really NEED it.

One thought on “Emotional eating…we all do it

  1. I do this all the time and just get mad at myself. I’m 1/2 way through eating whatever it is and say “Come on now did you really need this?” BUT then of course I finish because “don’t waste food, there are starving people in (insert whatever country your parents said when you were growing up). AND the looking in the cabinet 14 times when it’s the same stuff that was in there 20 min ago? OMG does my brain work? LOL. Great blog!