This is one of my biggest obstacles along my journey and definitely something I’ve been fighting this week.
Since I was a young kid I ate my emotions. A bad day was solved by chocolate. I couldn’t celebrate anything without my Grandma’s jello cake. Loneliness was put at bay by a big comforting meal by my Mom. Anger felt better with Doritos. Oreos my antidepressants, pizza my reward for a big victory.
I saw food as everything but what it was. I treated it like some magic medicine. And when it didn’t work, I simply “increased my dose”.
I’ve learned I’m pretty much wired to emotionally eat. In fact after a stressful day I still feel the push to eat my way through it. If I’m sad I find I crave sweets more. It’s just the way I am.
This week my little girl is down in Texas with family for spring break. Although I’m thrilled she is having such a great time this is the first time in her 11 years of life that I have been without her for more than 2 days. I’m incredibly emotional about this. I feel her absence so very much. She’s my first born, in fact if I’m honest she really started my life, so to be away from her is like the sun is gone. I know you Mamas understand! Tons of emotions flooding my heart… from missing her, to coming to the realization that before I know it she will only “visit” instead of living with me.
So this process has again had me fighting off stress eating. A LOT! The old me would have gotten through this process one spoonful of cookie dough at a time. The new me refuses to give in to stress eating…. but it’s not easy.
But I have learned so much about food and what it can and can’t do. I know food is not the answer so this battle is one I will win!
Food is fuel. It is not medicine. Let me repeat that, more for me than for you. Food is NOT medicine. It cannot make a day better. I don’t care how many scoops of ice cream you have the emotions there are still buried underneath it. Food can’t cure some deep down emotion. It won’t make this Mama miss her first born any less. It won’t help me fix my inability to let go or accept change in my life.
Yep, these things are my problems and I have to fix them on my own.
I have found stress eating is something that is extremely hard to break. I don’t have any great answers on how to beat it. For me when I have these twinges of “Nachos will fix it” I simply recognize the feeling and dismiss it. I have to remind myself of what food can do and what it can’t.
So this week I’m surviving without any stress eating. I’m staying busy, I’m focusing on the tasks at hand, I’m looking on the bright side and taking this time as some memory making for my boys. I’m reminding myself that letting go is simply something I need to work on and this is a good first step.
In other words I’m learning how to do things that actually work to make me feel better. Oreos won’t fix it… but recognizing my problems, thinking about them, and dealing with them head on works.
Okay so that’s the bigger picture but what about the crap feelings of a bad day? How do I deal with the short term crap?
Well, instead of eating my way through bad days I started a new plan. I run them out.
Yep! I’ve replaced stress eating with stress exercising! I blare my music and take my problems to the gym! And that works much better!! Orange theory is a huge therapy for me. Somehow I walk in with all my baggage and leave feeling stronger to carry it.
Yes I seriously work out more for my mental health than my physical.
So if you are a stress eater… I’m right with you. Find ways to replace the tendency to eat your way through your problems. Try increasing your exercise level.
And if you see me walking endlessly on the track this week… never fear she comes back on Monday!