Emotions are a crazy thing and will make people do crazy things. I fed my emotions when I was having the best and worst days of my life. I rewarded myself with decadent meals starting with an appetizer or two all the way to dessert. I didn’t need self control because I was celebrating whatever I thought was the milestones. Sometimes it would be just making it through a stressful day and coming out unscathed at the end. Little every day things became big things to celebrate. When I was having a bad day, I turned to fried foods and ice cream and lots of it!
But let’s back up a moment, don’t we all celebrate with food in one way or another? Weddings, graduations, birthdays, births etc; all those celebrations include meals and cakes. People also celebrate promotions, anniversaries, death and whatever other event with food too! Don’t feel bad if you are an emotional eater because we all are in some form, but there needs to be a lesson in emotional eating and how to control it.
I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions so I just fed them. Stuff my emotions with too many hamburgers or chicken nuggets didn’t necessary make me “feel” better physically but it made me FEEL better mentally. In fact, I felt sluggish after eating all that heavy and comforting food. It’s called comfort food for a reason. One of the hardest parts of the journey was examining my relationship with food and why I ate what I ate. Keep in mind; this is something I will always struggle with in life! Was I eating because I was bored, sad, lonely or happy? And why did I feel the need to feed my emotions? It was hard to really take a look at these things because it did bring up some painful issues that I didn’t even realize where issues.
I’m not going to dissect my past emotional history but I did eat to feed my emotions because of stress, loneliness, bad habits and just not being happy. Habitually I made the choice for unhealthy foods because that is what I knew best. My mom, the amazing woman that she is, spent my formative years as a single parent and building her own business. Meals were often consumed in the car between destinations or late at night. And the food was almost always from a restaurant or fast food joint! I was always on the move and never made the decision to skip the cheeseburger for a salad or grilled chicken. (For all those wondering, I was the only overweight person in my family.) And as I grew older, the habits stuck with me and when I should have been making the better choices.
When Willie and I started the journey, we both learned that we needed to deal with our emotional eating quickly. Willie ate out of boredom and I would not eat all day and devour food like it was my last meal. Instead of reaching for food in times of emotional highs and lows, we reached out to each other to really talk through the situations or just enjoy the happy moments. We didn’t turn to food, we turned to activity. If I had a bad day at work, I would take my frustration out on the treadmill or the spin bike. And you know what? It worked!
The biggest thing I realized with the change was the things that bothered me before or would get me down just didn’t anymore. The little things that would throw me off emotionally didn’t really affect me the same way anymore. I was able to deal with things and move on. The exercise helped me reduce stress in my everyday life and when I had the occasion bad day I knew how to handle it. No longer did bad days over take my world! Bad days were not longer fed with food and those happy moments are just celebrated with love and laughter instead of a huge event.
Eat to live; not live to eat! Celebrations are most certainly still filled with food, family and fun. But now there’s more focus on the family and fun and less on the food. I try to plan celebrations where we are doing something like going to the park, bowling, painting or just doing something.
I write this to share with you about the struggle that we had and still continue to have. This week we are dealing with some heavy stuff and I don’t want people to think we haven’t been tested on our change. We have been tested and we survived and you can too. I wish I could share with you how we were tested but it’s not my story to share. Willie and I have opened up our lives to share with you, but the people in our lives didn’t do the same. I hope you can respect our decision not to air other people’s business on our blog.
The thing we can share is progress and change have made us stronger people and we can tackle anything, especially together, without falling back on food to give comfort. But if/when the day comes that either of us caves into temptation, it will be okay. We will move on because tomorrow is another day to start all over again. We will move forward, get back on track and see it through to the end. There will be no beating ourselves up or feeling horrible over falling. We are better than the people we once were but we are still human!