Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Emotional Eating

Last night's Weight Watcher's meeting was about Emotional Eating.

It'd be really nice, don't you think, if we (by "we", of course, I mean me) could treat food with the same emotional detachment as the AA batteries we load up into the television remote. (I'd say "a tank of gas" except there's a lot of emotional baggage attached to petrol these days, with the constantly rising costs - although gas prices have been dropping recently, I find myself being slightly disgusted when I see gas at $2.59 and think that's reasonable. Yeah, yeah... "prices will rise, politicians will philander, and you too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders...")

Unfortunately, that's just not the case. Food, whether we want it to or not, has emotional meaning, more than just fuel for our bodies. If it wasn't the case, would we have a whole category of food we consider "comfort foods." Comfort foods can be anything, from something high in fat and calories (chocolate) to something we liked as a kid (Mac & Cheese) or something our mom made us on special occasions. I think most of us have those foods that we crave when we're feeling a bit down, to help perk us back up.

Unfortunately, it doesn't always work. We eat the Mac & Cheese because we're unhappy, and then we gain weight and now we're MORE unhappy. It's a strange sort of destructive behavior that we don't do with anything else. Unhappy -> Eat more -> Gain weight -> Become unhappy -> Eat More...

Think how that might apply to other situations. Break a dish -> Get upset -> Smash more dishes... I mean, no. We don't do that. And yet, food...

I don't know about you, but I have some serious problems with emotional eating. I cannot tell, a lot of the time, if I'm emotionally hungry, or actually hungry. I spend a lot of time, being hungry, wondering if it's okay if I eat. My general rule, thus far, has been: If I am uncertain whether or not I'm actually hungry, I go do something else. If, in 15 minutes, I am still hungry, it's probably an actual, physical hunger.

What do YOU do to help you decide if you're emotionally hungry or not? Any tips?

Aside... is this fair? I lost 2.6 pounds this week and got this from Weight Watcher's eTools:

Please note: You're probably excited to be losing weight, but you're losing faster than is recommended. Although it's normal to lose over 2 lbs in 1 week, if you lose more than an average of 2 lbs per week over a 4-week period, this could pose health risks, such as heart irregularities, anemia or loss of muscle mass. Please slow your weight loss; your doctor can help you do this if you're not sure how, or ask your Leader for ideas.

Thomas, on the other hand, had a 4.4 pound loss, and got:

As of 10/20, your BMI was 24.65.


Ah well, at least I hit 30% of my body mass GONE!


Anonymous said...

First, congratulations on the loss, and screw the eTools. Messages like that just piss me off, pardon the language. You're doing great.

I am SO with you on emotional eating. 90% of my food issues are emotional. I eat when I'm happy, I eat when I'm depressed...and yeah, I know I'm doing it, and that doesn't stop me for a second. I also know it'll just make things worse, and that doesn't slow me down either.

The only thing that has ever helped me is having a set eating schedule for the day, with meals pre-planned, and just removing the option of eating ANYTHING that isn't on the schedule. Sometimes it works. :-)

I'm trying to find other ways of dealing with emotional things, but so far I haven't found anything that is as easy as food. I won't say "works as well" because you're right - the food doesn't work either. It just takes away the "I'm depressed AND I can't eat what I want to" one-two combo kick.

Gah. Why can't this crap ever be easy?


Anonymous said...

oooh I echo the SCREW THE TOOLS and am glad youre back (I worry because I love).

for what its worth MY TOOL for emotional eating (brace yourself)...not the cure but the barometer...is to ask myself:

does a can of albacore tuna sound good?

99 percent of the time I gag :) but yes sometimes i think HOLY CR*P YES.

then I know I was wrong and I AM hungry.

xo xo,


Summer said...

Whoa. You're 2/3rds the woman you used to be. Fantastic!

My emotional eating this is that I eat more when I'm happy. When I'm stressed or depressed, I lose my appetite. I can tell how my life is going by stepping on the scale... when my quality of life goes down, so does my weight.

And right now? I'm happy. Very happy. So I know I need to keep an eye on my eating if I want to maintain. What's helping me is redefining what I think of as "treat foods." A treat used to be a bag of chips or doughnuts, but now I'm treating myself by buying expensive-but-healthy foods I used to forego because of the price. Tuna steaks. Avocados. Mangoes. The stupid thing is that an avocado or a mango costs the same as a bag of chips or a small box of yesterday's doughnuts, and yet I used to walk right past the "expensive" produce and purchase crap! It's been liberating to give myself permission to buy good food for myself. I deserve it!

Cammy@TippyToeDiet said...

Brilliant post, as usual. I try to control any emotional eating issues by sticking to the same basic diet. When ugliness rears it's head, I pretend I'm eating something sinfully delicious. So far it's working most of the time. :)

Hanlie said...

Congratulations on your loss! (Quite an odd sentence, come to think of it...)

I have been rather emotional lately and am starting to think it's not the food, it's that I'm scared to be thinner. I'm working on a post about that... Why can't this be easier?

One of the best pieces of advise I've heard is to drink a glass of water whenever you feel hungry. Often we're merely thirsty, but are reading our bodies' signals wrong. If you're still hungry after that, it's real hunger. It works for me!