Category Archives: Emotional Eating

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…

How Life Can Interfere with Eating

One of the things I’ve been working on is mindful eating or intuitive eating.  When I make the food myself, sit down at the table, thank the food and eat it without distractions it’s a different experience. It also includes taking the time to actually taste the food and enjoy the food. When I do, the meal is much more pleasurable.

The key is having the time. While in the day to day bustle of a full time job, running around going to various activities, it’s an accomplishment when we can sit down as a family to enjoy a healthy meal.  What I am doing now to maximize my time is to plan menus ahead and cook or prep dinners ahead.  Sometimes it’s worked out very well and other times I’ve come home and the food I had planned to make went bad because I waited too many days to make it. But I’m learning new techniques as I go which helps.

Another focus is understanding where I am emotionally and psychologically from day to day. For the days I’m in a good mood and high energy, I’ll do well to take my time and it feels great. However, when I’m not feeling the best (like when BFF is visiting) or it was a stressful day at work, I’m less likely to take the time to do anything.  In fact, I find myself reaching for food to ‘relax’ which is not the best choice to change my emotional state.

It happened this past week. I had some incredible moments of remaining present, preparing meals ahead and taking the time to enjoy them.  It was awesome!  However, there were other moments where I rushed, didn’t really taste the food and went searching for more because I felt I ‘needed’ it.  The good news is I’m fully aware and can specifically point out the different times this happened.

One of the things I did not do this past week was exercise.  Exercise has always been a big part of my life. I started yoga again last week and because of BFF, I talked myself out of doing it this week.  It seems as though my ego does a great job ‘coddling’ me when BFF is here. Honestly, it’s not doing me any favors and I realize it.

But, i’m committed to this journey of becoming aware of these unhealthy patterns of behavior I learned over the years.  I know it takes time to change but it can be done and there’s no rush.  I feel so much better emotionally than I’ve ever felt in my life. I feel stronger, more peaceful and I experience joy all the time now.  It’s not situational or dependent on others.  It’s just an overall sense of peace and joy and that’s the best of all. I’m on my way and I feel it every day.

 

New Year, New You!

This is the mantra I’m seeing all over the place these days.  It’s a time of resolutions where I will typically write down goals for the year.  However, again this year, I only have 4. They feel doable and not overwhelming. In the past, I would write 20 goals and it was ridiculous.  Thankfully, wisdom comes with age.

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Mostly because I’ve been doing some self-reflection on my life. Last year, as you know, I went off sugar for 3 straight months. It was fantastic! I felt great, lost a lot of weight and was doing well.  Then I started in the on the sugar again and it all came back. That’s when I decided, enough is a enough.  I am done with diets.  They work, don’t get me wrong, but they are not sustainable for me.   Yes, not eating sugar and flour is fantastic for your health and if you stay off it, you’d probably be in the best shape of your life.  The problem for us emotional eaters, is that there are emotions involved and because they can be pretty strong, it’s not that simple.  I have always believed in the 80/20 rule and decided, it’s time I apply it to all aspects of my life.

I want to live my life, not be so focused on my weight. This topic has taken the majority of my brain power too long and for too many years.  I want to enjoy my life. To do that, I have to give up this obsession with losing weight.  Instead, how about feeling good now.  In the past, I would get anxious thinking about doing that because does it mean I don’t care? How could I be perceived as not caring? I look in the mirror everyday.  But that’s just it, I am caring about myself if I’m focused on being happy.  If I’m happy, I’m more likely to take care of my body and enjoy myself along the way…

What’s better than that?

Let’s Listen to our Bodies!

Lately, I’ve been listening and reading a lot about health, psychology and wellness.  This is what I do in my free time because I love the subject so much and I’m one to look at all angles and ask, “What makes the most sense?”

There is so much information out there, most of it garbage.  It’s no wonder our society has no idea what to believe about food, health and wellness. One day you’ll hear, ‘Eggs are bad for you, too much cholesterol’.  The other day, I just saw in a magazine an article about how eggs are good for you and the old premise was debunked.  Go figure!

All these years I’ve been following diets and dieting advice. Eat dairy, don’t eat dairy. Eat meat, don’t eat meat.  Eat grains, don’t eat grains.  The list goes on and on.  Then people get into the minutia to say, well you can eat this fruit but not that fruit because its high on the glycemic index.  Whew, to keep up with all this is a full time job and honestly, I’ve turned in my resignation.

We have, as a society, become so obsessed with this stuff that the average person doesn’t know what to believe.  And this is where I had to say, enough is enough. It’s time to get back to basics. What is our body telling us? Have we ever stopped to think about that? When was the last time, you actually sat down without distractions to eat and felt your body signals? Did you feel when it was telling you it was full? How about when it was telling you the food you ate didn’t agree with you?  I can honestly say because I believed and followed these ‘programs’ for so many years, it brought me SO far away from trusting my own instincts that I don’t even know what my body is telling me.  I have relied on diet programs to tell me. That’s honestly quite pathetic.

It’s time we take our power back. It’s time we start to really learn to listen to ourselves, trust ourselves and our bodies. These bodies are amazing, they heal themselves if you remove all the resistance and negative thinking.  If a body can heal itself from cancer, can’t we trust it to tell us how to eat?

Focus on Happiness To Feel Happy NOW

It’s been a rough couple of weeks.  I really good friend passed away and it was difficult. She was just 44 years old.  I didn’t blog because I took the time to remember the good times with my friend and how much I’ll miss her. I also took time to reflect on my life and how important it is to keep myself happy and healthy.  That includes how we think, how we view ourselves and what we say to ourselves on a daily basis.  That is the true predictor of good health. Depending on how you think, determines how you feel and how your body reacts.  I’ve known this all along but I’ve always been focused on dieting, eating, and exercise.  Of course, those elements are all important, BUT if my thought life is not loving and positive, none of those things will ever come together.

I already started focusing in this area, but now, I’ve decided, that’s going to be where my energy is going to flow full time.  My goal is to create a reality for myself that keeps me happy. This means letting go of all those things that do not make me happy.  It also means shifting my thinking towards thoughts of happiness.  What good is it to tell myself I’m unhappy with my body? Is that going to change my body? No, it’s going to keep me where I am or worse.  How do I know this?? Ah, because it’s been over 40 years of this thinking that hasn’t change anything. What I have been doing has not worked.  This is why diets don’t work either. Why not instead, declare how I want to see myself now? This will immediately make me feel better about myself and it will also move my body to align with my thinking.

You hear many teachers say, thoughts become things.  Well if I want to create a positive life, then I have to start thinking about this positive life now.  In the past, my psychology was, “When I have an amazing body, then I’ll live my life.”  Pathetic, but true. I would ‘punish’ myself by not buying clothes until I lost weight or not going on trips because I was embarrassed with my body.  This is all nonsense and kept me in this circle of unhappiness.

If I want to feel happy now, then I have to start doing those things which make me happy. For me, it’s being outside in nature, biking, walking, hiking, reading etc.  I love being outside.  Given this, I’ve done everything I can to start planning more and more activities to be outside and I have to say, I am happier for it.  Last week was tough emotionally, but to counter those thoughts of sadness, I kept telling myself, it was okay to feel sad and I’m going to be okay.  I then planned an outdoor biking trip with my family for the holiday weekend and it was amazing.  I was extremely happy.  Talk about a turnaround. In the past, I would wallow in my sadness for weeks. This would lead to overeating, negative self talk and I would miserable for a while.  Who does that serve? No one. Would that bring my friend back? No. Would it make me feel better? No.

This is the life I used to live. Instead, I am purposely choosing to change because I know, I can live a happy life now regardless of my current circumstances and that’s what I’m going to do. Do you want to join me?

3 Things I Have to Do to Prevent Overeating

Over the years, I have learned a lot about myself and my eating habits.  Some of them are good habits and of course some are not so good. I’ve been working to replace them for some time. So far, I discovered there are 3 things I have to do to prevent overeating. If I do these 3 things consistently, I will continue to build belief in myself while moving towards living a healthier life.

1.  Prepare, Prepare, Prepare:  This I cannot stress enough.  It is so important I spend the time to plan menus and prep food ahead of time, typically on Sundays so I’m ready for the work week. If not, then I’m leaving things to chance. I don’t know about you, but when I come home from work to my family, I’m tired and usually mentally drained.  When I’m in that state, I do not make good food choices. Instead, I’m saying, ‘Let’s order out!” and that leads to an overeating frenzy.  I just discovered ‘Organize Yourself Skinny” and I have to say, I love Tammy’s ideas and planning methods to make life easier even when you have a family.  Freezer cooking is brilliant, check it out!

2.  Eat all the food planned:  This one is interesting. When I was dieting, I used to try and eat foods within my calorie range that I enjoyed rather than focusing on eating the healthy foods I needed to sustain hunger and nourish my body.  This strategy often kept me starving because the foods I was picking (ice cream and cookies) did nothing for me nutritionally and I was constantly searching for more food. Probably why I failed consistently. I have learned, I have to stick to eating what I planned to eat because I picked those foods ahead of time for a reason. When I do eat them (think 4 oz chicken, 2 cups cooked veggies, 1 c brown rice), I’m full and am not hungry for a long time.  It also helps with sugar cravings, an added bonus!

3.  Eat every 3-4 hours:  This is huge for me. In the past, I would not eat much for breakfast because I wasn’t hungry. I then ate a small lunch instead of eating what I planned (see #2) and when I got home from work, I was famished.  This set me up for a binge. I have to eat every 3-4 hours to keep blood sugar steady and my body functioning optimally. Otherwise, it’s a roller coaster. As a result, I’m shoveling food in trying to make up for the day.  This was never a good idea and had to consciously break this cycle if I wanted to become healthier.

These are 3 small things I know I have to do to prevent overeating. I’m sure I’ll be learning more along the way, but these have come up several times recently and I wanted to share them with you.  Have you learned things about yourself that you need to do to be successful on this journey? If so, please share…

 

60 Days off Sugar and Flour

Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s been 60 Days!! It has flown by. In that time, I have learned a lot about myself and new habits I’ve picked up along the way that when continued, will keep me healthy.  It’s been an interesting ride and I feel better than I’ve felt in years.  But I know I can feel even better and that’s what keeps me going forward.

The biggest change, I no longer experience that underlying ‘anxiety’ (for lack of a better word) on a daily basis.  This anxiety was background noise that continued to hinder my ability to focus and move forward.  It feels so nice to be able to relax and just enjoy the moment.  Enjoying the moment is something I’m not used to doing. I tended to focus on the future.  “It will be better when this happens…” was my mantra instead of saying, “I’m enjoying the moment right now.”  It’s a shift in thinking.  Because I no longer experience the ‘anxiousness’ feeling, I have room in my brain, to calm down and focus on what’s important.

The other word that comes to mind is ‘freedom’.  Those who are or have been addicted to sugar and flour know what I’m talking about.  It’s that feeling of needing sugar/flour to feel better and the days are focused on the next meal to the point where it almost becomes an obsession.  In these last 60 days, those feelings have disappeared and I’m amazed!  I didn’t realize how strong they were until I began this journey and documented the changes.  The sad part is when I was in the middle of it, I accepted it as normal because I didn’t have any other frame of reference.  I just assumed I was doomed to feel that way for life.  Now I realize, it never has to be that way and I’m so grateful to have experienced this now.  But like I said earlier, I know it can get even better!  60 Days off Sugar and Flour

Lastly, one of the learnings I’ve had along the way was my focus. In the past, my focus has always been on how to lose weight and keep it off. That’s why I tried so many diets and worked out excessively. Losing weight was the focus because that’s what I thought would work and what other women were doing.  The result was failed diets and a cycle of weight loss/weight gain that threw my whole body out of whack.  As a result, I grew more and more hopeless because I thought I had tried everything to lose weight but wasn’t able to sustain it. Little did I know, I was focused on the wrong thing!! If we want our society to be healthy, why are we studying disease?? Why not focus on health? Same with weight, why are we focusing so much on losing weight instead of focusing on living a healthy life?  Focusing on losing weight has lead to extreme dieting, eating disorders and even death.  Obviously, this is the wrong approach. I was focused on it for 20 years and still wasn’t successful.  What’s wrong with that picture?

The focus has to be on living a healthy life by eating the right foods, performing enjoyable exercise (which isn’t a chore) and being kind to myself. To me, that’s a healthy life, it’s also freedom.  It all comes down to the thoughts we think.  By choosing healthy thoughts, I can continue to feel good no matter what’s happening around me.  That’s the key to happiness, freedom and peace. That’s the life I want to live and if this is a glimpse into that life, I can’t wait to see more of it!    60 Days off Sugar and Flour

The Ups and Downs of this Journey

It’s been an interesting few weeks. I contracted a cold, which I haven’t had in years.  My skin all of the sudden became inflamed and itchy.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I have been eating well for over 50 days now and yet for some reason, these things appeared. I’m thinking my body is just ridding itself of toxins, but I’m not sure.  My focus these past couple of weeks has been on getting better and healing.

Last week, we went on a road trip.  Eating out required planning ahead and looking online at menus to decide which would be the best choices.  Overall, I did well.  However, when I got home, we went out for dinner one night and while I ordered fish, I also ordered sweet potato fries. I know it was because I waited too long to eat and I didn’t plan ahead. One big learning, if I wait too long I feel vulnerable to the negative thoughts of giving up. In this case, I had the thought, I want sweet potato friends and I’m going to eat them. Because I was hungry and tired, these thoughts were strong and prevailed over my ‘logical self’.

The next day, I got back on track and started eating what I planned for the day and I felt much better about it. But lately, I have been craving carbs and that’s a sign the sugar is calling.  It’s important to keep moving forward and continuing to plan ahead the healthy foods I’m going to eat. I also plan to pick out some interesting recipes I can look forward to eating so I don’t get bored eating the same things every day.

 

 

I continue to learn about myself, habits and how my body works.  I do well planning ahead instead of leaving it up to circumstances where I’m more likely to binge on unhealthy foods.  I’m so grateful though that I’m not overeating or have the ‘urge’ to overeat in the afternoons and at night. Even after eating the sweet potato fries, it didn’t set me up to binge on sugar and flour. It was easy to regroup which is a different then what I’ve experienced in the past. Typically, I would go off and binge for days.

One thing I’m exploring is my thoughts and focus throughout this journey.  I believe no matter what, if I focus on health and being at the perfect weight, things will change. Instead of focusing on ‘good vs. bad’ foods and focusing more on health, I believe my life with change dramatically. I’m testing the theory out now.  In the past, my focus has always been ‘losing weight’ and I’m not sure if that was the right focus.  I think now, it’s more about health.  More to come on this as I go through this journey. For now, I’m thankful I could share with you these experiences that are evolving me as a person while also transforming how I approach health and wellness.

5 Things That’s Changed Since Being Off Sugar & Flour

It’s been 39 days off sugar and flour and there are some significant changes I’ve witness so far I wanted to share with you.  It amazes me how fast these changes have occurred.

  1. Improved sleep – 2 months ago I was complaining about my sleep.  I just couldn’t get comfortable at night and sleeping through the night was rare.  At times, I found myself waking up abruptly (which may have been sleep apnea) and I snored.  For the past few weeks, I haven’t woken myself up and sleeping has been much more comfortable.  I can’t believe how much better I’ve been feeling during the day because I had a decent night of sleep.
  2. Self-control – this is an interesting one. I’ve blogged in the past how much I’ve been very hard on myself repeatedly about not controlling my eating in the afternoons and at night. These last few weeks have been eye-opening.  I haven’t felt a physical craving since the first week.  The biggest test was when I spent hours decorating my son’s birthday cake (cake was a huge trigger food for me) and not one thing went into my mouth.  I didn’t even have one urge to take a bite! Unheard of in the past!
  3. Clear & focused thinking – I blogged about a time at work where I had to give a big presentation and rocked it. Now this doesn’t seem out of the ordinary but in the last few years, I’ve noticed differences with my memory and quick thinking.  It never seemed an issue in the past, but I couldn’t deny it was slowly impacting things in my life and it started to bother me more and more.  Today, I’m remembering things and can quickly focus on tasks rather then feeling ‘all over the place’.
  4. Calmer disposition – This one follows the one above because I believe having focus and clarity leads to a calmer life.  I can’t tell you how much I experienced anxiety over stupid stuff (not getting somewhere on time, etc).  I noticed a dramatic change just the other day when a ‘stressful’ situation came up, I was able to take a moment to think clearly instead of impulsively taking action.  Even my family noticed this change!
  5. More energy – Finally, I definitely have more energy to do things. I have been up later and doing more then ever.  Typically, I would zone out after dinner on the couch with ice cream. Now I’m getting ready for the next day, cooking a full dinner or finishing things on my ‘to do’ list. It feels nice to have the energy to get things done instead of having them linger.  A huge plus as I move into this next month.

Overall, I can say this has been the best experience for me. I feel so much better.  Have I lost weight? Yes, but it’s more than that. Having self-control is the most liberating.  Feeling better about my focus and thoughts helps too.  I’m not saying there are going to be tough times, in fact I was just talking to a friend about traveling this weekend and making sure I prepare ahead because eating on the road has been an issue for me in the past.

Losing weight in our society is not easy.  We are hit constantly by food ads and fast food places, it’s overwhelming.  It takes time and effort to be healthy.  But my decision to do this for myself is a priority and there isn’t any other way but to take the time and effort to plan ahead.  Next week will be good test to see how I do on the road. More to come!

 

Slow and Steady Healing

It’s been 25 days since I’ve eaten sugar or flour.  I haven’t had any physical cravings at all since the first week. Probably because I’ve been eating whole foods that fill me up more than ever. I have never eaten this much food before.  I remember years ago when I was on WW, I would try to fit in the ‘good foods’ with my points, basically eating less to keep enough points to eat ice cream later in the day.  But that sacrifice did not provide the appropriate nutrients to keep me healthy. Yes, I lost weight, but I didn’t necessarily do my body a favor in the long run nor did I learn the right way to eat to sustain a healthy body.  The WW program has since changed significantly which probably was because so many other people were doing the same thing. I didn’t think about it back then, I was just thinking about getting in those foods I craved the most, cookies, cakes and ice cream because I was addicted to them.

Without those foods, I’ve been feeling good, losing weight and it’s been nice to feel ‘in control’ again.  For roughly 2 years, I had given up on my health because I wasn’t seeing progress. I would go on a diet, lose a few pounds, stop losing and then nothing. I would become frustrated and binge saying to myself, ‘Nothing works!’.  This time around, I have so much more hope because I’m taking things very slow and seeing a difference. My first order of business was to get off sugar and flour, focusing on eliminating the cravings for those foods I was addicted to and so far it’s been nice. I even forgot to eat lunch one day!!

However, handling emotions is key.  Things have been occurring in my life where the emotions come on strong. In the past, I would quickly reach for food and binge to alleviate those emotions to feel better quick.  Lately, I haven’t been doing that, so I’ve had to come up with new ways to work through them.  The good news is because I focused on improving my emotional intelligence for the last few years, I’m noticing a difference in how I’m handling them than I ever have in the past.  It’s a new concept for me.  Since I’m not eating to deal with the emotions, they are significantly heightened and I have to face them now.  I’m not going to say I’m a 100% there, but I’ve definitely come a long way. It’s a little overwhelming, but I’m taking things day by day. Thankfully, I have a support system of friends and family I can call on and it helps.

As I continue healing, I will take it one step at a time. In the past, the perfectionist attitude would have me take on so much at once that there was no other option but to fail. This time around, I’m doing things a lot slower. Focusing on a few things helps keep it all manageable. Yes, I’m sure there are so many other things I have to do to heal, but for right now, this is working. So I’ll continue to focus on that and forget the rest (for now).