Friday, July 24, 2015

Emotional Eating

Nearly ever day, I am asked, "How did you do it?"  "Can you help me?"  I think this is both flattering and comical, because I am still learning myself.  Today I want to talk about emotional eating, but first let's revisit the basics.

It took me a LONG time to figure out how to eat right.  I used to say, "I'm a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, I know how to eat right."  Weight Watchers works when you're on it, but it does not really help long term.  And truth be told, I did not know how to eat right.  This was a really tough pill to swallow.

I learned how to eat right by tracking my calories and macronutrients, which took a while to get the hang of. My trainer really helped me...the key was not obsessing. I wrote about this in a previous blog:  Three Steps to Weight Loss.  Recently I saw this article on BodyBuilding.com that best explains a healthy nutritional plan:  How to Lose Weight.  My macronutrients are not divided exactly the way this article recommends, but following these principles has helped me lose weight and keep it off. 

Word of caution:  if you are using an app to track your calories, it may not give you a high enough calorie count!  Less than 1,200 calories is NOT enough.  I was eating about 1,300 calories and not losing weight and the foods I was eating were all wrong.  Furthermore, eating less did not help me listen to my body and did not help break the food addiction.

I was an emotional eater.  I used to eat for comfort. If I was stressed, I ate.  Sad?  Angry?  Overwhelmed?  Tired?  Anxious? Happy?  Food fed my soul and comforted me in an unhealthy way.  I have more of a sweet tooth than a "salty" tooth.  Give me cookies, ice cream or cake - I can pass on chips.  I craved carbs.  Once my body got used to my new way of eating, I stopped craving the sugars in my comfort foods.
Last year, food comforted me and helped me deal with my stress. Today I don't look to food to help me feel better.

If you are an emotional eater, like me, you need to find something else to help meet that need.  Continuing to reach for the bag of chips or ice cream during times of stress, means you will never meet your fitness goals and you'll always be on the yo-yo diet.  For me, exercise has replaced my need to eat.  As busy as I am, I always found time to sit down with a bowl of ice cream and watch TV or play FarmVille.  Working out (with a good playlist) provides the time to focus on me, to clear my mind of the day's trials (I make time for it).  I usually go to the gym after work (either straight from work or after dinner).  I tire myself out, return home to finish the night's tasks and crash.  I don't have time to feel too badly for whatever my circumstances are and I eat less.  Furthermore, writing this blog has helped me to focus on what I have learned along the way, which is therapeutic in itself.

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it  yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Hebrews 12:11

What about you? Does food comfort you? What will work for you to help meet your emotional need without killing your nutritional goals? Yoga and meditation are good ways to deal with stress and train your body.  Maybe it's a long walk with a great playlist. Reach out to your friends and talk to them about what's going on. Get a journal and write. Start your own blog. You may need to seek professional counseling to help you address it. Whatever you do, if this describes you, I implore you to consciously find a healthy alternative to help you deal with stress, which does not involve food or alcohol. (You do NOT want to substitute one addiction for another.)

I still love ice cream! I had a blizzard at Dairy Queen last month when I was on vacation visiting my family in Port Charlotte, FL. Ice cream is not evil...all in moderation. Google flexible dieting to read more about macros.