Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Busy Mom's Journal: Emotional Eating

The past few weeks have been very difficult for me regarding my quest for healthy eating.  I've had two tragic deaths in the family within one week.  For this reason, I've been reaching for comfort food. 

In my head I know that food will not fix grief.  But there's a primitive part of me that seems to take over and says that a trip to Burger King will certainly make the pain a little bit easier to take.  Like the way a good buzz from a few glasses of wine dulls the senses and deadens the painful stab in your heart.  At least for the moment.

After losing almost 40 pounds over the past year, I've wrestled with my tendency to turn to food during difficult times.  I've had to continually establish new boundaries around what is healthy for me regarding food and what is not.  I am more aware of when I am looking to food to fill a hole that it can't and I am more adept at finding new ways of filling those holes. 

Disclaimer:  I do not now, nor will I ever, subscribe to the school of thought that says you should eat to live, rather than live to eat.  I am and always will be a "foodie":  someone who loves all things related to food.  I love, love, love the Food Network.  It's my number one channel.  I read cookbooks before bedtime, just to get inspired.  I enjoy the sights, smells, and textures of planning, preparing, and eating a home-cooked meal.  These things will always be a large part of who I am as a person.

However, I am still learning to shape a more healthy relationship with food.  Getting lost in all of the above mentioned activities will not bring fulfillment to my life, or fix my problems.  It will not bring peace to my heart. And it certainly won't take away any pain.  When these activities move beyond the realm of hobby or interest and into the territory of something that I find myself clinging to for survival, then I've crossed the line into an unhealthy food relationship.    

The past few weeks have shown me that I'm still learning, one step at a time. 

Tell me about your relationship with food.  Healthy?  Not?  Or somewhere in between? Leave comments.  Discuss.


  1. I was thinking about this very thing last night when I bought a package of cookies from the Price Chopper bakery (don't judge me, they were only $1.50!)... and promptly ate three... or four? :/ Even as I was chowing down, I was thinking, "This isn't going to make the stress go away. This is so wrong." Then I immediately reached for a bag of - I'm not making this up - bacon cheddar oven baked fries (you would find them in the chip aisle). But like you, after doing the (relatively) healthy thing for a couple months or so, I was far, far more aware this time that I was emotional/stress eating.

    I've tried the "eat to live" thing. That lasted two days. ;-) I do enjoy food and I enjoy looking for and experimenting with new and healthy recipes without sacrificing taste. But I also need to get a better handle on emotional and stress eating. My question is - I am POWERLESS when I reach for food during, um, certain times of the month. Any other ladies have that problem?? How do you fight it?

  2. As usual, Lucy, you're too funny! For me, I HAVE to watch what I keep in the house. If there's something that's a "trigger" food for me in the house, I'm more likely to eat it. This would include sweets. Like the leftover brownies that were sitting on my counter all weekend after a party on Friday. You'd better believe I've been snacking on them and not feeling so great about it! I made my Dad take them to work just so we could get them out of the house. WAAAAYY too much temptation.

  3. What is it with emotions and food? Why are the mind and stomach seemingly connected somehow? I eat when I feel stress, when I am sad, happy, or bored. However, the best excuse I ever had to eat was during both of my pregnancies. Even though I knew I only needed 300 extra calories a day, I was eating for two, right? Two adults! So, here we are, two babies and 75 extra lbs. later. So, how do we fix this problem? I've had success in the past with "diets" (I hate that word), but I don't want to go there. For now, I'm trying to remember the good ol' food pyramid on a daily basis. Ya know the top where sweets, fats, meats, and dairy are listed? Yeah...I eat too much of that stuff. Portion control, Melissa. Portion control. More fruits, veggies, and whole grains. I tell myself this every day hoping I can make it a lifestyle that I can live with for the long run, and still live to eat!

  4. My comfort food is and probably will always be saltine crackers. Not too salty, but must have a reasonable amount of salt. I really, really, like oyster crackers by the handful. My brother used to eat a sleeve of crackers every night for his snack until he found out he was allergic to gluten. Now he downs an entire bowl of microwave popcorn every night. His hips don't show it, however, like mine. I'm not willing to part with my comfort yet, but I am watching my intake. (I suppose chocolate ice cream isn't good either?) Well, I have recently been eating 50 calorie choc. fudge bars instead. I like them! And I don't eat more than 2 at a sitting, with no more than one sitting a day! Please don't discuss Mountain Dew. That is my coffee. I simply can't go there yet. Maybe Jesus will return before I have to look at axing that :)

  5. I have recently been inspired to face my food addiction head-on. It's an addiction that I have been aware of for many years - whether at a healthy weight, or not. My inspiration began through reading Lysa TerKeurst's blog as she was addressing hers head-on. I did not take to the idea immediately, but I have been slowly coming to grips with my need to expose it and deal with it.

    Lysa spoke at an event that I coordinated this weekend, and we were able to talk about it a little. Food addiction is the topic of her next book, and she is sending me the manuscript to review.

    I like your take on food, Kelly. It is fine to enjoy food, and be inspired by cooking and recipes and such. Like nearly everything in life, there is a fine line that is way too easy for me cross. I am seeking to control food, rather than allowing it to control me - and this will only be by the power and grace of God!