Monday, January 25, 2016

Emotional Eating

This is a very personal post for me. I have been trying to put words to feelings for a few weeks now. Every day I log into this blog I see this post, unfinished just sitting in collection. Some of these things are hard to state much less open myself up to judgement of others. Growth does not always come easy or without bumps and bruises, right. So, here I go. Being as authentic as I can be.

I have found that my personal life often effects my professional life and vise versa. This is one of those times. Understanding trauma and it's effect on people has become a major trend in my line of work. {Probably a long overdue need but that is a whole other rant.} The Adverse Childhood Experience study was a large piece of research that was conducted some years ago. It linked childhood trauma to adverse medical conditions in adults; from obesity to diabetes; from substance abuse to heart disease. I recently took the ACE Study Questionnaire, ten questions each worth one point. My ACE score was a significant 5/10.

The study would suggest that I am high risk for physical health related side effects. Other than being overweight, I would argue that I am pretty healthy.  I have low blood pressure, get normal sleep each night, I drink only occasionally, I do not smoke, I do not use drugs, I even gave up drinking diet soda this past year. So when examining the Adverse Effects of my ACE Score of 5, I have to critically analyze the weight.  If I am honest I have to admit that my weight, if not address, will cause me health issues the older I become. My weight is directly tied to the fact that I am an emotional eater.


Emotional Eating may mean different things for different people but for me eating has been my way of coping with any feeling I have ever experienced.

  • As a young person when I was home alone and felt lonely; I ate. 
  • When I was bored, I ate. 
  • In college when I was stressed out; I ate. 
  • When I did not feel like I fit in; I ate. 
  • Any time I felt scared; I ate.  
  • When I got divorced; I ate.
  • Even in celebrations and times of happiness; I ate. 
Over the past thirty five years I would say that I have dealt with any feeling in the exact same way; I ate. This is emotional eating for me. 

Since I took the ACES study I have forced myself to stare at this with new open eyes. Every time I feel the need to grab a snack, I am asking myself, what are you feeling. Occasionally I am feeling hungry. But more often than not, I am feeling some other emotion. The week The Boy participated in Hell Week was the hardest week ever. Every single night I found myself mentally raiding the refrigerator, the pantry, the freezer an hour or so after dinner.  Every night I would literally ask myself, "what is going on with you?"  The answer was always; you miss your son, you are worried about your son, you feel alone, you are sad, you are mad. It was never, you are hungry.

My long term plan is to substitute emotional eating with some other healthier behavior. Many nights I have physically gotten up and found something to do. It did not have to be a big thing. Several nights it was sweeping the floor. Or doing dishes. Or even moving from one room of the house to another. If the urge to consume something did not leave, I allowed myself a cup of tea. It is amazing how much one cup of tea can help. I should also say the treadmill in our house has been dusted off and plugged back in. It is ready for me when I am ready to substitute eating with exercise. 

Such simple solutions really but you know what, they have worked. Knowing the difference between I am bored and I am sad has helped me develop new responses to my emotions. Eating when I am only hungry has already helped me lose six pounds. 

I am a work in progress. But I do pledge to keep working. 

1 comment:

  1. Love it Pam -- thanks for being so open and honest. This is an inspirational post for me. Keep taking care of yourself!