Monthly Archives: February 2016

An Emotional Pattern Leading to Overeating

For some reason, every day when I get home from work, I reach for sweets and carbs. It’s like my body is on autopilot.  Same with after I have dinner, I reach for sweets. Yes, there are times when this doesn’t occur, but it’s when I’m traveling, have an event or not in my normal routine.

After taking the time to dig into this pattern, I realized it started during childhood.  My mother did this exact behavior every night after getting home from work.  For her, it was Saltines and butter (not appealing to me at all).  She would come home, break out the Saltines and slap butter on them while at the counter and just eat and talk.  My father was busy working so it was me who got to hear about the trials and tribulations which occurred that day.   The transference of not only the emotions she experienced, but the behaviors of ‘letting go’ and eating stuck with me for years to come.

When I want to relax after being at work all day, I come home and mindlessly eat sweets or carbs to feel better immediately. The problem is this pattern has become so ingrained in my being that it’s now 30 years later and I’m still doing it. I’m aware of the pattern and have tried stopping it, but I know now that it goes deeper and is going to take practice replacing this pattern with something different, something healthy.  It’s not just the behavior, but the automatic thoughts that precede the behavior which I want to address.

In the past, I would impose discipline and willpower through a diet which would work for a short time, but it crept back into my habits.   Before kids, I would go to the gym and that helped but now, it’s not an option. I then tried to eliminate the behavior and that didn’t work because I was missing the ‘outlet’ of changing my state after coming home from work. All of these were tactics which didn’t last because I never addressed the underlying cause.  Why does this happen? What emotions am I feeling? Why am I not feeling the emotions and dealing with them?

Today, I have come to the conclusion the key here is feeling the emotions as they come up and when reaching for food, consciously think about what I’m craving, notice why I’m craving the food and if needed, to sit down and eat the food mindfully while asking questions like, “Is this what I really need right now? Am I satisfied? Am I still hungry?” which will change how the food is consumed.  Bringing light into the emotional pattern is the key here.  I know it will help to uncover why I’m doing it and when that happens, then it will be easier to replace this habit with a healthier one.

I’ll let you know how it goes…