Monday, June 30, 2008

153.2 - Emotional Eating Sucks

Ah, yes, the scale continues to go up. I am just glad that I lost 10 pounds before Sophie's surgery and am at 153 instead of 163.

I. am. so. tired. It's like having a newborn again, getting up every few hours to give Sophie her pain meds or put drops in her ears. I know we're getting close to the end of this, but it's really sucked the life out of me.

Sorry to be a broken record. I've been whining for days now. I'm even starting to bore myself.

Yesterday I took a long bath and pondered this emotional eating problem I have. I kept trying to pin down what it is that I'm trying to achieve when I eat junk food at 11 p.m. or 3 a.m. What I kept coming back to was the feeling that I was trying to escape, to get numb, to self-medicate. It's usually a feeling that comes on quickly and has to be assuaged immediately. I'm usually stressed, tired, anxious, or sad. And even if I bypass the kitchen at first, within a few minutes I find myself neck-deep in a compulsion I can't step away from until I've finished the job. I know what the consequences will be, yet I don't care.

I kept thinking that this must be what it's like to have a drug addiction. If you've ever seen the HBO series The Wire, you've seen the depiction of heroine addicts and how they live. I know my problem isn't that serious--please don't think I'm equating my food binges with a heroine addiction; I can't die from eating 4 cookies in one night--but the feeling of having to get a fix is what I kept coming back to when I thought and thought and thought WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF?

I don't think this is a "just clean your house" or "take a hot bath" type of problem that I can solve from simple behavior modification. Or maybe it is. I don't know. I know that when I'm rested, exercised, and have mental energy reserves, I can keep the demons at bay. It's when I'm the opposite of these that I feel powerless over the food.

There's only so much control I have over my life. I can plan to workout and I can plan to rest, but shit happens and even the planned interruptions can derail me.

I'm thankful this is a temporary blip--that things will be back to normal soon. But what I also kept thinking as I soaked in the bath yesterday was, what if some really bad shit comes down, something that isn't temporary, something that would last for months or years? What then? Will you allow the emotional eating to take over for weeks on end and let yourself gain back 50 (or more) pounds? Hadn't you better get this figured out NOW while you can identify the problem and (eventually will) have the energy and presence of mind to put some proper coping mechanisms in place?

Right now, I'm too exhausted to figure this all out. But I've put the question out there and know I need to find answers. I just hope there are answers I can live with.


Jill said...


I'll come back and comment when I think I have something helpful to add, but you are so not alone.

((((more hugz))))

Helen said...

Asking the question is the beginning of finding the answer so good for you!!

When I quit smoking, I imagined the worst things I could imagine in my life (this was really REALLY hard because who wants to go there?) and told myself "if X happens, you cannot smoke, it is NOT an excuse". I ran that over and over through my mind. This was like practicing a horrible situation and envisioning myself making it through without my crutch/addiction. And any bad thing that was lesser of The Horrible Things was easier to get through.

I think it's the same with food...although I also think there is at least a LITTLE leeway with eating if a truly horrible thing happens (which is subjective), I think it's important to envision that thing and how to get through without making it worse -- by gaining a lot of weight that makes you feel bad and, in my case, smoking.

Anyway...I'm sure you will be are asking the question and it's hard to fall back into the past patterns when you are so much more aware...

Heather said...

hey I would be doing the same thing in your situation! so whine away. emotional eating always gets the best of me sometimes are right though, it is exactly like a drug. food is definitely an addition and one that can resurface during stressful times. I would clear out your house of any binge foods and that might help.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes life happens and we simply have to allow for a slight detour or taking longer to get to our goals.

This has just happened to me this weekend as well.

You know that you have been below 150 so you know that at some stage you will get there again.

Best wishes,

Vickie said...

When I used the bath tub to "hold myself" in the beginning - it was NOT a tra-la-la-la-laaa experience - it was more of a wailing, shuddering, awful kind of thing. But I MADE myself stay in there until I could trust myself - not prune fingers - prune body. It was very visual to me - to PUT MYSELF somewhere - hold myself together - literally.

I have also made myself sit and stare at a spot on the wall - bawling and rocking and hugging myself - until I could trust myself again.

Helen is very right - I did the same thing - walked myself through both the "what if's" and "then what's".

This would have also been the time when I was VERY careful what was in the house and "available". I did not take the power of food lightly.

Helen is also right that the question and starting to LOOK at what you have to figure out for you - is the start of finding the answer.

I know that when I did not question and did not look - I did regained.

This does not all happen over night - it is a process.

It is an odd combination of being very kind to yourself and also white knuckle time.

Give yourself a lot of credit for SEEING. And you might need someone that is trained to help with this sort of thing. I did.

Vickie said...

right meds (for me) also helped tons. It might be that the wrong meds (while we were still trying to get things straightened out) made my beginning stages of maintenance much harder than they had to be.

But I THINK that it is a learned process - not automatic.

ws said...

I don't have much to offer except that I have some familiarity with the addiction cycle and mindset and perhaps the most important thing is that you aren't alone. Remember that and take care of yourself.

Anonymous said...

Hey Laura, I made such a good comment this afternoon and then it got sucked into the blogosphere. Anyways, I think I said that your post was a good reminder to me that the same thing can (and has) happened to me. So we need to be ever-vigilant.

But tonight when I read your blog, I looked at your progress pictures. My gosh, Laura, you were a knockout at 168 pounds! You should be so proud of where you are.

And the other thing that I noticed tonight is that you said you were so tired. The world looks so dismal and hopeless when we are too tired. Give yourself some grace, Laura, and know that when you have gotten some good rest you have the tools and the strength to keep working on this "hobby!"

G.G. said...

Oh my, I totally recognize what you're feeling about the food compulsions right now, and I hope things get better for you soon.

Something that's been helping me lately (and of course, that's subject to change)--is that when I get the urge to binge, I give myself an internal shake and remind myself that eating the Twinkie isn't going to make my other pain/stress whatever go away. It will still be there when I'm done getting my fix--in fact, I know I'll feel even worse after I eat it (physically and emotionally), which totally defeats the purpose. I know this sounds trite, but for some reason, it's really working for me this time.

Hang in there! This too shall pass.

Vickie said...

I started very slowly with the kids - first the fast food was TOTALLY out.

And I stepped up the bread stuff in our house to be whole GRAIN. The things I do buy are whole grain (low fat) crackers, bread/ mini bagels, pita, tortilla shells.

We stopped buying pizza and started making our own using whole grain pitas or tortilla shells as the crust (and low fat cheese).

And I improved the quality of the cereals. Wheaties, grape nut flakes, crispx are our standards now.

And I switched out all dairy to low fat (skim milk).

So, I wasn't taking away anything (except the fast food) - I was switching out to better quality products.

And I had to take a hard look at what I was offering the kids as "meals". It is easy to have every offering be carbs - when dealing with kids. so, I wasn't working so much on them - as i was myself.

These are the types of things that you CAN start to work on now.

Vickie said...

and I didn't try to switch everything at once. I started by looking in my grocery cart before hitting the check out and asking myself - what in here is FOOD and what in here is junk.

After I got beyond that - I started reading labels and trying to make better choices.

I used the half and half rule to switch out all kinds of things - white rice and brown rice, white pasta for whole wheat, white pancake mix for whole wheat. I started out with half and half and just increased the wheat every time until it was all wheat.

I did this with juice too. Even though I buy 100% juice with no sugar added - I delute with water.

things like low sugar jelly - I was just able to switch easily without anyone noticing or caring.

Vickie said...

I am not suggesting any major transformation or perfectionism. I am not suggesting getting into a food fight with anyone in your family.

I know you are struggling mightily and I feel for you.

What I am saying is that each time you go to the store or make a meal - you make a TINY step forward - and that all those steps will lead you onward and upward.

Working on your families food a tiny bit/slowly and your food whole heartedly - will help YOU in the long run.

Jill said...

Wow - such good advice from everyone. The only thing I can think of to add (and this may not be helpful to you) is that when I am eating for emotional reasons - it doesn't matter what kind of food is or isn't in the house, I will binge on whatever I can find that is soothing. So even if I don't have any "junk" in the house, I will keep eating and eat WHATEVER IT TAKES to make me feel better. I haven't done it in a long,long time, but I used to eat some mighty strange things in search of comfort.

I think Helen's idea of playing to worst case scenarios in your head is a great idea. And also Vickie's idea about the tub - a physical place you can go when you feel out of control.

And also when you are tired, EVERYTHING seems bleak - I'm the Queen of that! How many times have you had to bolster me up and tell me it will all be better when I've had some sleep?!

You'll be okay. :)

Marcy said...

(((HUGS))) chica!! You got some wonderful advice! Hang in there, I know you'll be back to it in no time :-)