Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Emotional Eating

My name is Laura and I'm an Emotional Eater. When things go wrong, I want food to make me feel better. When things go well, I want a celebratory food fest. When I'm bored, eating will keep me occupied for a while. And on no occasion is the food I crave fruit!

Yesterday afternoon I got a phone call to say I hadn't got a job I'd been really wanting. As soon as I got off the phone, the tears arrived along with the desperate need for comfort food - in this case white bread toast with lots of butter and melted cheese. I tried to fight the emotional cravings for a while - yesterday was also weigh in day, and I knew that if I started eating, I wouldn't make it to weigh in. I caved, had the toast then crawled under the duvet and ignored the fact I should have been standing on the scales. Ironically, I hadn't been too nervous about yesterday's weigh in - my home scales were showing a loss, and I'd been really good all week to make up for a food festival I was at on Saturday.

This morning I started thinking about emotional eating, and how I deal with it now compared to previously. Looking back I've used food as a comfort all the way since childhood. At the age of 6, my family moved to a different part of the country. I'd started school by that point, and hated having to start afresh elsewhere. I remember my parents used to buy these biscuit things that were topped with gooey marshmallow and jam. I loved them, and they're actually my first food memory! I then also remember being at the doctor's, and him commenting that I was obviously enjoying the Scottish diet - the first time I remember a comment being made about my weight.

I remember when I was a teenager that when I was upset or feeling lonely I would go to a local shop and buy lots of chocolate and crisps, that I hid in my bedroom and used to binge on. The food never lasted very long - I could easily eat a large chocolate bar and 6 packets of crisps in one sitting. But then once it was gone I moved onto the next shop - I rotated shops as I was worried the staff would comment on my buying habits if I visited one place too often. Starting University was almost liberating in that sense - it was easy to slip in lots of treats into a normal shop without feeling too guilty, which meant the comfort eating continued all to easily. And my flatmates were always happy to break out the big tubs of ice cream with a spoon each whenever any of us felt emotional.

Since leaving uni 9 years ago, I think I've generally became a happier person and although I've in no way fixed the emotional eating habit, I don't remember exact instances so much. I know I've done it - I've definitely eaten my way through a few hundred large share bags of crisps by myself, but things don't stick out so much.

Last night, however, I feel I made progress with my habit. Yes, I felt upset so went and had something to eat - but I only had 2 slices of toast, butter and cheese (that could easily have been more), I didn't raid the cupboard for lots of chocolate and I didn't go to the shops for crisps. I missed my weigh in, but I managed to pull myself together enough to go and meet friends for dinner later, and I walked the 5 miles to the restaurant. In the restaurant I could have easily picked high fat, high syn options, but instead had carrot soup followed by a steak - a lot healthier than the pate and puff pastry topped pie my emotions were telling me I needed.

I don't feel I've completely got a handle on my emotional eating, but I do think that I am getting better. I'm recognising that the cravings I experience at times of extreme emotions are not real cravings, and actually eating things that are bad for me only satisfy me whilst I'm eating - straight afterwards the emotion is back. I hope next time I can remember last night, and try and keep myself together now that I know it is possible to exercise a bit of self control.


  1. That's a very insightful post Laura. I hope it inspires others. And well done you!

    Ali x

  2. Very brave post, thank you for sharing it. @Becchanalia