I have been thinking about the complexity of managing my weight and realized I only eat because of a few reasons. If I can capture these reasons by posting them here for my own accountability hopefully it can help someone else. The first step is acknowledgement, right?
- Eating due to hunger (appetite) – Hunger would be the first reason and is a natural physiological reason to eat. Everyone shares this reason across the board.
- Eating due to cravings – Cravings can appear whether it’s from watching a commercial on television or smelling popcorn at a movie theater. They can sneak up on you and sometimes, they are strong enough you feel like you have to give in for it to pass. Cravings also come when your body is out of balance like hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or when you’re body becomes accustomed to eating certain foods and then you don’t eat them, cravings can come on strong (i.e. sugar or carb cravings).
- Eating due to boredom – Lately I’ve been noticing this pattern which is sometimes when I’m not ‘into’ doing something. It’s a dangerous reason because it’s easy and becomes habitual. Probably one of the most detrimental reasons in my efforts to lose weight. The easy cure is to not become bored in the first place. Finding other means to occupy my time rather than reaching for the chips and zoning out on reality shows or the Hallmark channel.
- Eating due to emotional triggers – This one is popular. The emotions don’t all have to be negative ones (sad, lonely, angry etc) but can also be happy and excited emotions like celebrations. I read somewhere that emotions are a 90-second physiological response in the body and if we learned to recognize them and let them ‘pass’ we would have more control over our eating. In my experience, typically emotions have lasted longer because my thoughts sometimes ruminate over the same set of thoughts which triggered the emotions in the first place. Definitely something I’m working on…
- Eating due to habitual behavior – My experiences have led to eating ‘desert’ after dinner and has now become a daily habit. This habit was born many, many years ago and is going to take a while to replace, but it’s definitely a habit. It’s like driving down the same road repeatedly for so long, now the road has deep grooves in it. In order to change this one, I have to think about replacing it with a better habit and creating new grooves. Now, finding that new habit, that’s the challenge.
Food has become such an influential part of my life. I realized even in my family it’s a huge deal, and not around birthdays and holidays. Everyone in my family talks about food constantly and they don’t have weight problems! It’s like food is the center of our lives and why? I think it has to do with love and connection, where we as a family find common ground in a crazy world. It’s the one thing we agree on together, where we spend time together and it is enjoyable. A much deeper issue, I know.
I was talking with some friends last week about weight and eating and finally we got to a root issue, not practicing self-love. Now overall if you asked me if I love myself, I would say “Yes, I do love myself.” but if you asked me what happens after I overeat, what do I say to myself? I would tell you it would be a series of punishing words, “You shouldn’t have eaten that! What were you thinking? You are getting fatter and fatter by the minute! You slob!” It’s awful and something I would never say to loved ones if they overate.
I remember Joyce Meyer saying one time that she didn’t feel right unless she felt wrong. This is the same concept. I grew up in a perfectionist environment, if I didn’t punish myself, then I wasn’t feeling good about myself no matter what I did. I had to punish myself because that’s what you did when you didn’t live up to expectations. We are our own judge and jury. The pain we feel is much more then what others put on us…it’s the pain that keeps us eating, because it’s when we feel better for the moment. We just keep eating to rid of that empty feeling and when we keep gaining weight and then try to force ourselves to stick to a food regimen, we fail because it’s overwhelming . It’s just easier to punish ourselves with words and keep eating.This self-punishing is another habit, one that has deep grooves but I can overcome with practice, new habits and acknowledgement.
Can anyone else relate? Are you your own judge and jury? Is your self-talk awful? What do you say to yourself after you overeat?