We all Struggle – A Case Study of Emotional Eating and How We can Deal with it Better
Do you still think there can’t be a food addiction? Read this if you are an emotional eater (and who isn’t…):
It sounds easy to make better choices, doesn’t it?
So why – although most of us know what would be best for us, do we just seem to unable to do so?
Or why – even if we are able to do so for a while, do we fall off the bandwagon and revert to our former behaviour?
Why are 90% of people that lose some – or even a ton of weight – are gaining it all back – or more?
Most of us are struggling with the answers. So am I.
All my life I struggled with food addiction. I worked on it. A lot.
So much that I felt I was over it……WRONG!
A little personal case study:
One morning, while away from home and staying in a hotel, although it was a nice hotel and a good bed, I woke up early with back pain. Nothing new, I am struggling with back pain for over 20 years, and although my back feels good most of these days, it always flares when we are away from home and my usual bed – and food.
Most of you know what I mean, right?
So, after a few stretches and a nice hot and cold shower, I felt well and energized and ready for the day ahead.
I was hungry. The hotel is offering a complimentary breakfast. Good ole’ American style.
Here is what my choices were :
I invite you to stop for a moment, look at the pictures and reflect what you would choose for breakfast.
No, not what you wish you would choose or know what you should choose. Try for once to be honest with yourself 🙂
Did you choose healthy? Maybe you are tempted to make a choice not so good for you?
So here are my stupid choices. No, really, that’s what I did. Honestly.
Without reflecting, I imagined how good I felt as a kid eating a crunchy, chewy sweet waffle! And without thinking, I steered to the waffle maker and started to make a waffle. The syrup, I knew, wasn’t good for me (corn syrup), so I went for jam instead. Really? A better choice? I’ll let you judge that….
For good measure, I added some yogurt and one of the bananas…
What do you think, a good choice? Healthy? Have you ever done stupid things like me?
Well, here is what happened:
As I started to eat the waffle, (and half of it was gone already without thinking about it…)…my hunger pangs went quieter… My brain started to work better.
I noticed that the taste really wasn’t as good as I had imagined and anticipated. I ate another bite and this time really noticed that the taste really was gross, bland and artificial.
I didn’t finish the waffle and turned to the yogurts. Yes, hungry as I was, I had piled two of the little tubs on my plate (hey, it’s free….)
….And since my mom always told me to clean my plate… (to all moms: Please don’t do that to your kids…)…
In they went. Quite tasty actually. Nice and sweet…. Healthy cherry flavor?
So after eating both, I checked the label on the container: 15 g of sugar each…. And a lot of other, hard to pronounce ingredients. Really, not much real cherries in it at all….
A better choice than the waffles? Maybe, but good? …..
So then, while sipping my black coffee later in my room, I started to really think about my choices.
How did I feel after eating this breakfast?
I remembered feeling energized and good after my shower; now I felt tired again and sluggish, my stomach felt bloated, back started hurting again and I just felt blahhhh……..
I am sure you recognize that feeling….
Guilt started to set in – I started to beat myself up in my mind, thinking:
“…I am just a slob. I am such a stupid idiot, a hypocrite who can’t even do what I tell others to do and what I know would be right for me….”
Most of us are constantly beating us up inside like that. Would we say that to our best friend? Of course not.
Then my analytical and rational mind kicked in:
I told myself instead:
“Okay, I made a mistake, one more of many I made in my life. I AM an emotional eater. Addicted to food. And there will be more temptations and challenges to come.”
And I asked myself this question:
What can I learn from my mistake?
I know the antonym HALT – stop yourself when hungry, angry, lonely, tired and think before making the choice….
So why didn’t I do exactly that? Why did I steer right to my sugar-high addictive food?
Why did I act like the rats in the famous study where the rats choose sugar water over cocaine?
For me, there are 2 reasons:
– I didn’t stop and think before I made the choice
– I let my feelings, and my “stupid” thoughts of greedy anticipation and delusional memories of feeling great while eating steer me, instead of first correcting my thoughts and then choosing wisely.
Everyone who knows what addiction feels knows these thoughts and delusions.
My drug of choice of are foods, especially sweets. And although I know better to steer clear from it, I sometimes, like in this instance, fall in the trap again.
So I swore to myself: Next time I’ll make a better choice.
The Conclusion: How to Go Forward after a Mistake
Here is the truth: We all make mistakes. We all stumble. We all fail.
What makes the difference between people who succeed in the long term and those who don’t, is what you do next, after a mistake.
If you choose to get back up after you fell of the bandwagon and try again: Success is inevitable. (Just the timing is not clear).
If you stay with feeling beaten down and accept failure as a way of being, you will not succeed and end up feeling worse.
If you need support, reach out and get it. You are worth it.