Saturday, October 13, 2007

Emotional eating and why do we get fat

I was thinking today I wanted to talk about emotional eating. Someone told me recently they didn't understand why an intelligent person would allow themselves to get fat. Maybe in different exact words but that was the jist. I mean saying that cause I started out thin, long, long ago.

What I say to that is obviously they have never been fat. We all have our different reason for putting on the poundage. Sometimes it's just getting older and eating too much and not moving that much. For me it was a little of that but more about emotional eating. I was trying to go back in time and remember when I starting to put on weight. I remember a distinct time was right after I got married. I was working for this accountant. He was very nice and outgoing but he had a real bad tendency of coming up behind me and trying to massage my shoulders. And also when I had to go make copies in the copy room, there he would be in the doorway and not moving. I had to kind of squeeze on by him and was thinking 'why won't he move out of the way'! He was the touchy feeling kind of boss and I finally realized that he was sexually harassing me. I was young and naive I suppose. I thought, well, he's just from Morrocco or somewhere, aren't they like that in their country? His wife was the office manager, she didn't seem to say anything. I started to feel stress about going to work. I started to gain weight. I'm not sure how that's related but I guess cause I was stressed and feeling down I started to eat and to gain weight.

Anyway, fast forward to other times in my life. I was at work at the school district, I was an admin assistant/office manager. I liked the people I worked for but my boss was an evil b*tch who no one seemed to like much. They were always asking how I could work for her. The job was stressful and I began to eat. She liked to stress me out my giving me things last minute to do in 1 hour....projects that she could have given me days if not hours before. She drove me crazy. I think I was 170lb when I started that job and by the time I left there 3 years later when I got pregnant I was up to 212. Hmmmmm.....stress....weight gain. Coincidence? I think not.

Then later after the baby....started to gain more. Hit a bad spot in the marriage. You know, don't talk about it...just eat. Adding a baby to the mix was a real big shocker/change for us as we had been married 10 years with no kids. So we fix the marriage and then I started to lose the weight....about 40lbs and now a standstill due to stress again.

Food had/has become my drug of choice. When things bother me, let's eat. When someone made me feel bad...let's eat. Keep it all inside. Don't let them know how they hurt me. Just eat. Of course, it worked for a while. But then I'd get mad at myself for eating the fast food or ice cream or whatever and I was just hurting myself. Stress has always been a key trigger for me. That, and food is love. You know, growing up it was a treat to go out to eat. We started out poor in the beginning and going out to eat was a rare thing. And my mom was and still is a good cook. It seems food=love. She loved to provide us with the food, especially the holidays. We got the full spread. Now 2 out of us 3 sisters are overweight. My dad also loves to eat but he's not too much overweight. I guess he would go up and down 10-20 lbs. all the time. My grandma was overweight. Who the heck knows why we are the way we are. Or maybe it was that I didn't share with hardly anyone back father was a big drinker. So was my grandpa. Definitely alcoholics....did I not get the love I needed from him? Probably. Did it affect my weight? I really don't know. Did it affect my happiness and my body image and self esteem from things he would say? Yes. I think so.

All I know is that when I am in pain or under stress, I can revert back to eating. It has been happening again as of late. With the deaths of 2 of my loved ones....I don't seem to care that much about healthy eating. And due to my constant school and studying the exercise in nill. I'm trying to break out the rut. I'm feeling crappier and my pants are tighter but I haven't gotten on the scale. I'm sure I've gained a good amount...ya know I can just tell. But, this is not about beating myself up. This is about understanding it. This is about how to break the spell that food can have over me. My own little coping mechanism.

I was talking to my sister about the weight issues. And she said it's funny you know. When people mention your weight or that you should do something about it.......she said ya know, 'it's not like we don't know we have a weight issue'. Meaning, why the heck do they need to bring it up at all. It is our own private dilemma. Another blogger, Sandi from down under in Australia took it a step further and said you know what? She said she is tired of dieting and is just going to accept who she is right now and the weight she is at. I wish I could do that. I can't seem to do that. It would be so much more easier. It would be easier than thinking....'I have to get back to that thin woman I was years ago'. Because the funny thing is that I'm still the same inside but it seems that some people forget that. Then it makes me think, 'have I changed?' Yeah, I suppose I am not as confident as when I was young and thin. I mean confident in the way that I look and feel about myself. But other days I'm like 'I'm still the nice person inside and if people can't see that then they can just go stuff themselves'!

Anyway, I'm just going on and on. Taking a break from my all day study marathon as I have 2 big tests on Monday. I am liking learing about xrays and like Fridays the best as sometimes we get to do real xrays on the phantom/dummy things they have in class. The hands on learning is fun. All this bookwork and memorization is the dull part.

Tomorrow we will go with some friends to the pumpkin farm and pick out pumpkins and maybe go through the huge corn maze. My son loved it last year. And it's time for some fun about now....dangit! Ok, share with me if you have had struggles with emotional eating. Do you still struggle? If you don't, how did you break the cycle? Please share, I'm not getting any younger and want off this merry go round.


Christine said...

I don't think that any honest person can say that they don't still struggle. There's just no way. It's just one day at a time for me these days.

Emotional eating is defintely my problem too. I really fall back on it and its my crutch.

TrixieBelden said...

I have definitely been an emotional eater. I did it as a kid, I did it in college, I did it as a young 20 something living in the big city, I did it as a young 30 something going back to grad school. If I felt "less than" anyone else I would eat. And I would always choose what tasted gooood. I figured, "nothing else is good in my life, I might as well enjoy what I eat/drink." And yes, I was a social drinker, but I'd also have 1-2 beers with dinner at home a couple times a week.

I think the major turning point for me started when I was working my way out of a difficult bout of depression. I managed to go to work everyday, but otherwise I was just getting by by the skin of my teeth. Totally going through the motions. I decided to go back to school - and there were some really good professional reasons to do it when I did it. School wasn't easy at first - academically or socially. But it gave me a rest from the usual stresses in my life and I got to connect with myself. I also got into the habit of eating whole medium sized Pizza Hut pizzas by myself. I decided one day that I didn't have to define myself by the weight I was then (223+ lbs.) I could choose to eat other foods. Now I had to decide this every day for about 6 months before I took the first step. And then, it was all about choices. I had to come up with routines that made making food choices a no-brainer. It wasn't easy at first and I really only tried to do it one meal at a time, one day at a time. Then it became habit and the weight started to come off. I used exercise to cope with the stress now, instead of food. I just made the decision with every food choice 10-20 times a day that I'd rather be healthy than eat whatever high calorie thing I had in my hand. I still do that all day, everyday. And I assume I'll have to do it for the rest of my life. I'm scared about it. I don't know if I can keep the weight off. And I still am an emotional eater. I eat waaay too many pretzels every night. I'm trying to break myself of that habit b/c its not like I really want the pretzels, its just mindless eating. I still have pizza when I'm stressed or having a bad day, but I just do it less often or go to the pizza shop that sells by the slice instead of the pie. I don't know if what I've shared is at all helpful, or just sounds like a lot of bullsh*t. I just want you to know that you are not alone and that I think most people struggle with emotional eating every day. Some people are just better at hiding it than others.

jodi said...

i don't think i've ever considered myself an emotional eater, though eating when stressed out, upset about something, or celebrating good news - is exactly that... for me, the times where i have gained weight - i just didn't care about what i was eating or what it was doing to my body... i ate what i wanted and that's it, nothing more, nothing less...

now, i really stop and think before i eat something - asking myself, "do i want this OR am i just bored?" it takes a lot of patience and practice to get to this point but after doing WW and losing over 20 pounds - i can see that it's working... i like how i look, i like how i feel and that's enough for me... :o)

Kim said...

It has taken me a long long time to realize what an emotional eater I really am. Just choking down so many thoughts, feelings and emotions instead of expressing them. It's been a hard discovery process to work through, but I am finally seeing some positive changes come out of the pain of it all. It is still a daily struggle, and I think that it is one that I will have for the rest of my life.

Anonymous said...

hi Patty,

it's strange that you should be facing such struggles and have mentioned whether or not you are the same person as when you were lighter.

i was only saying to my hubby this morning that nothing in my life is any different to when i was 87.7kgs.

apart from people complimenting me, and generally it was the shallow people who did it didn't change my life one bit. when the sales were on i STILL didn't find 1000 things to wear and the cheaper clothes looked just as tacky 2 sizes smaller so there wasn't a great deal of difference in my life.

i've always been confident, if i can look in the mirror and say, yep feeling hot then i'm happy and let me assure you that my weight has NEVER kept me from living my life, meeting people, new friends/lovers and generally have a great life.

dieting has controlled my life for far too long and i cannot ever go back to a place in this short life of mine where i'm beating the shit out of myself about wanting to have dessert. that's just me though.

just be happy. hold your head up and be proud and grateful that you can say you have a good heart and your health.

Living to Feel Good said...

I don't consider myself an emotional eater, but I do know I do use it sometimes as an excuse. And I do use food as a celebration or reward a lot which is bad too, but I think we all struggle no matter what size we currently are. It's just part of everyday life. You just have to never give up or throw in the towel. As long as you acknowledge it, you are heading in the right direction.
I hope you take pictures of the pumpkin farm!! You must share!

Iron-Man said...


You know I really can identify with what you are talking about, except for the sexual harassment part. Actually, even there I do have a story about that.

Unfortunately, I am concerned about posting my work story. It seems too personal. Sometimes I see that there are many bloggers who post a lot of details and very personal information, and I would like to do that on some issues. However, I am concerned about getting into trouble with anyone that I happen to discuss.

What should I do? It feels good to post these things that are problems. However, I do not want any new problems to come as a result.

I have been doing a lot of emotional eating since getting my new job. It is very disappointing that I have wasted this year and have not lost any weight.

Roni said...

Great post.

I hope you don't mind I'm going to link to you.

BB said...

I'm an emotional eater and will always be one too. I eat lunch with a friend all the time--more for the social part of it. Do we ever go to cheaper lighter fare, no! It's always bigger portions & more $$. I'm trying to make better choices, but slip up. Last night it was chocolate croissants! Luckily they weren't very good, so I won't buy them at this place again. Loved your blog

B said...

I am the world's worst emotional eater I think. I was reading a book that helped me understand it a bit. I can't think what it's called, once i've unpacked the rest of the books i'll let you know. Hope you're okay. Keep in touch by email if you want, I would hate to lose contact with you.

Phillip said...

I struggle every day. Some times it's food other days it's the high calorie beer that goes with the good food. Some days it's too much beer.
Some times (for many days in a row) I do really good and eat reasonably, drink moderately, and workout consistently and the fat feeling goes away. It's a trigger to do the good thing when I feel that bla, fat feeling and the scale moves up ten or more pounds. Yo-yo dieting is what I think they call it, problem is I always move up and down in the same 30 lb range.
It's the ability to stay more consistent at the good habits and less in the bad. What I tell myself is that proven techniques don't fail, people fail to follow the proven techniques. Some day I hope to go below that 30 lb range.

Anonymous said...

I just read an article which expressed the opinion that we get fat to either protect ourselves or to punish ourselves. It had some really good exercise at the end of it, which basically amounted to forgiving either yourself or others. I think emotional eating is along this line. I know I emotionally eat but maybe asking myself really deep questions, like why I'm eating and whether I can forgive myself (or others) will help fight the urge to anesthasize myself with food. Thanks for raising this topic!