Emotional eating, bored eating, mindless eating, CRAVINGS! Where do they come from and what do we do about them? How many people have you heard say “just put the fork down” or how many products have promised that they can help “control your hunger?” Yes, sometimes we eat because we’re hungry, but what if that’s not what is going on with you?
I grew up as an obese child. As I’ve talked about before, the “joke” in my family was that when my mother went into the hospital to have my brother a few months before my 2nd birthday, I was sent to my Grandmother to be taken care of and after my mother was home and I went back to my mother and father, from then on, I was a fat baby. They joke that my Grandmother just kept feeding me in order to keep me quiet. I do have very fond memories, some of the few memories I have of my childhood, because a lot of them are blocked out, the memories of my Grandmother are all of her kitchen and her cooking. She is who taught me how to cook and why I cook so well.
My obesity and my overeating had absolutely nothing to do with being hungry and absolutely EVERYTHING to do with my emotions. A huge variety of emotions. Self-love was one of the biggest reasons I ate, food made me feel better, it made me remember my grandmother and her love, so it made me feel love. Being hurt was another reason I would eat. I was bullied a LOT in school because of my weight and a multitude of other reasons and it hurt a lot, I’d often come home crying, but received no support from my parents and wasn’t given any tools to deal with the bullying. In fact, I was blamed for it. I remember my mother asking me what I did to them to MAKE them make fun of me, or bully me. When I would tell her that I didn’t do anything, she would not believe me and say that no one makes fun of people for no reason, you had to do something….so it was my fault.
I ate because it comforted me, when people would tell me “You’re so smart, but….” or “You’ve got such a pretty face, but…” or any other multitude of things that they were praising me for and all of which were followed with that “but, if only you weren’t so heavy.” Didn’t they know that everything they had said to me before that “but” was completely and utterly erased by telling me that my weight made all of the good things unimportant? Of course they didn’t. So I ate more, because it made the insecurities go away if even for a little while. The insecurity and lack of self-confidence as well as self-esteem that had been built up in me never really went away, food was just a temporary fix. So, I grew up from that fat baby, into an obese child and a morbidly obese teen and then adult. Hunger had absolutely nothing to do with it EVER! I’ve no doubt that there are many others out there who while they might not have had the same experiences that I’ve had, they will also agree that hunger has nothing to do with it.
Now cravings, that’s something different. Yes, you’re not hungry, but you want it. You can’t stop thinking about it, it’s there, it’s calling your name and you have to eat it. Whether you’re home and there’s something in the pantry or in the refrigerator, or you’re out at a restaurant enjoying a meal with friends, or driving by some fast food place that has a picture up there of their newest yummy food item. I’m not going to mention the specific foods or fast food joints, because I don’t want to trigger your cravings. Cravings are just that, it’s something that has been triggered by a thought, a picture, a word. And yes, they can drive us to EAT! Controlling cravings can be very difficult, but I’ve found a crazy way and I know you’re probably going to shake your head and laugh at me and saying something like “Oh GROSS!” but I swear, it works.
So, I’ve realized after all these years that I have a food addiction. I love to eat…well, who doesn’t, but I REALLY love to eat. If I didn’t love to eat, then I would never have reached close to, if not over 400lbs in my 30’s. It was in my 40’s when I realized that if I didn’t do something about my life then one of two things would happen…or probably even both. #! – I was heading towards some serious health issues and somehow was lucky that I didn’t already have them and #2 – I would die an early death. Now, I know that nobody wants to hear that they’re going to die early because of being overweight, but it’s a sad statistic that people who are obese have a greater chance of dying early. Well and does it matter if you live longer, if you’re not living life fully? Not to me it didn’t, I wanted to experience all life had to offer. So I made a few changes, left that abusive relationship that I was in and for probably the 100th time in my life started yet another diet. This time I was successful and I lost all of the excess weight and just this month celebrated the 9 year anniversary of the beginning of this journey that I continue to be on today.
I am however, still a food addict and I recognize that. Having a recent discussion with a girlfriend, I realized that I am not alone. We were talking about how wonderful my honey is and he’ll do the grocery shopping, so that I don’t have to go to the store and be tempted by all of the things that the store and their marketing department want you to buy. Seriously, how many of you have gone into a store with the intention of buying just 2 of 3 things and you walk out with 15 or 20? You walk around the store and you see something on sale and say “Oh, it’s on sale, I’ll use it at some point” and so you buy it.
My girlfriend and I also talked about how just the mention of food will completely throw us off track. I used to be a pasta-holic, but I’m not anymore…that is one thing that I couldn’t even care if I ever ate again. But there’s many other things that can throw me off track. I finally had to sit down and have a serious conversation with my honey about it and told him that I really needed him to stop asking me if I wanted something. He didn’t understand, he said “But, you lost all of the weight and you’ve got great willpower, I’ve seen you in action!” I explained to him that yes, I admit, I’ve got great willpower and I’ve been successful in losing the weight and keeping it off, but it is a constant process. This is something he doesn’t have to worry about, not only doesn’t he have a food addiction, (other than refusing to eat the same thing every day like I have no problem doing), but he is also very fit and healthy and disciplined. If he gains a few pounds, he loses them easily. He’s one of those people who people like me, hate because they can eat whatever they want and they don’t gain weight and if they do gain weight, they just lose it in no time. Whereas myself and others like me can easily gain 3-5 pounds in one weekend and it’s take 2 weeks of strict discipline and working out to take the weight off. I know it’s crazy, but it’s true…it happens to millions of people who are struggling with weight issues every day.
So, now we’ve come to an agreement that he won’t ask me if I want pistachios and feta cheese in my salad, or would I like to have pizza tonight, or how about we take some cake from Cheesecake Factory into the movies with us tonight? When we are out, as long as the thought isn’t put into my head, I’m good to go. I laughed when I realized that my girlfriend and I had this same issue. She said that she could be out with friends, having just enjoyed the most delicious dinner at the finest restaurant and be completely satisfied and her husband will ask “Do you want to stop for pizza? Or, would you like some ice cream?” and BOOM…she’s there. She’s not hungry, she wasn’t even thinking about pizza or ice cream, because she just enjoyed this fabulous dinner, but there it was, the words were said, the thought put in her head and now she wanted it. So, if both her and I have this problem, I know that there are thousands, if not millions of other people who also deal with this.
So, what’s the answer? Well, the first thing is to be aware. I am VERY aware, but I do have my moments where I’m caught off-guard. However, being aware is key. Putting components in place is another key, whether that be having that discussion with your loved ones like I did with my honey, working with someone like me, a Certified Life Coach, or whatever you have to do that works for you…a Life Coach by the way can help you figure out those answers.
Once you’re aware, then you have to put the steps in motion and as crazy as this sounds, when I do have those moments (almost always when I am home and there is something in the fridge that I really don’t want, it’s only in there because it was left over from a dinner party or something), whatever it is, it’s calling my name. Despite not being hungry at all, I want it…I can’t stop thinking about it. Now, I know better, I know I shouldn’t be eating this, but there I go, finding myself walking to the refrigerator, going for it. BUT…WAIT…I have this breakthrough moment of sanity. “Robbyn! What are you doing?? This isn’t something that you should be eating and it’s not anything that is on your normal food plan anyway. What are you doing? You’re going to ruin all of the hard work and effort that you’ve put in the last few weeks of going to the gym, working out, eating right, etc., etc.” This all happens in a split second and it’s in that split second when I have that moment of rationalization, where my willpower is stronger than my craving that I grab the bottle of dish soap that sits at my kitchen sink and I squirt dish soap all over that food that I am about to eat.
After that, I’m done. Amazingly, all of those craving, those desires, the thoughts and feeling that I was just having a gone, in a flash. Why? Because the food is gone, it’s no longer eatable. Yes, it’s sitting there in the trash right now and staring up at me, but it’s destroyed, it’s got dish soap covering every inch of it. I don’t want it anymore and so I go on…feeling empowered, feeling successful and proud of myself.
I know many of you can understand this food addiction and you too experience this every day. After all, how can we not…we are inundated with advertisements on television, billboards as we drive on the highway, the smells of food as we walk in the mall or are out and about somewhere that there are restaurants. these people are good, the marketing teams know exactly what they’re doing. They’re making us want the experience of the people who are laughing and having fun in the television commercial. The triggering our memories of whatever food that is which is posted on the billboard as we drive past and oh, the restaurants that somehow pump out the smell into the mall, yes they know what they’re doing.
So if you, like me, find yourself realizing that you have a food addiction, or if you don’t have an addiction but are having difficulty losing the weight that you want to lose, let’s work together. It’s why I became a Life Coach, it’s why I’m getting my degree to be a Health Coach, A Nutrition Consultant, a Wellness Coach and a Fitness Trainer. I want to take my experiences and help others, help you…because we’ve had so many of the same experiences and who better to help you than someone who understands at least some of what you’re going through. Call me 406-27-COACH or click on that little button with the envelope to send me an email. If neither of those work for you, then use the “contact” button on the side of this screen. Let’s work together, we can do it in person if you’re local, or we can use Skype, Facetime, email or the phone. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I’ve been through the journey and would love to help you along your journey. Let’s get started today!