Keeping Emotional Eating in Check
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
I have known for a very long time that I am a stress eater. I also eat when I'm bored, depressed, sad, happy, or just feeling indulgent. You can see why this could be a problem over time.
There are so many tips out there for cutting back on this type of eating, and I have tried many of them. Some have even helped. I don't keep a lot of "junk" food around the house. I try to keep a stock of healthier options for snacking: yogurt, hummus, granola bars, fruit cups, etc. On good days, I check my remaining calories before allowing a real dessert type treat. (Side note: Chobani's flip yogurts in dessert flavors are a good way to trick your tongue into thinking it's having dessert.)
The hard part still comes on the bad days. Yesterday, I found out I need to have a minor surgery in December, and it threw me in a loop. My energy was gone, I had a child-like whine when talking about not wanting any part of the surgery, and any attempt to accomplish my plans for the day was met with a "meh" reaction. Unfortunately, I also had to pick some things up at the nearby Target. One of the hardest parts of shopping trips for me is avoiding the ice cream, chips, and snack cake sections. I have worked very hard to put on blinders and/or have a serious check in with myself when approaching those areas, but there is a crack in that armor on rough days.
I found myself feeling like I was on track to successfully leave Target without any regretful purchases, but I was thoroughly unhappy. I wanted ice cream, darn it. The logical voice in my head reminded me that I had spent the weekend with friends eating a little more than I should. It said we didn't need ice cream. My feet however disagreed, and I found myself staring at the freezer section full of Ben & Jerry's and Talenti.
I started trying to pry myself away. A little voice in my head replied, "okay, fine, walk away. We'll just go home, sit on the couch, and eat whatever we already have". That's when I really stopped and listened to myself. The little kid in my head was upset by the surgery idea and wanted ice cream, and the hint I was getting was that every part of me was going to sulk and throw a tantrum by overeating when we got home.
Looking at it objectively, I decided to tell myself it was okay to pick something out. I ruled out anything toooooooo unhealthy, opting for two choices that even if I was moody and ate the whole container would not ruin my weight loss efforts. I also set a firm boundary that this would be it. If we took this chance to sulk and indulge, we weren't allowed to use that same excuse again next time.
There is a time and a place for self-restraint, and there is a time when you need to take care of yourself. In many ways, you can take care of yourself by showing self-restraint, but then there are other days when you need to cut yourself some slack to stay on track long-term.
And for anyone interested, the ice cream (Talenti mint fudge cookie) was exactly what I needed last night. Yes, I will confess I ate the whole thing, throwing me well over my calories for the day. However, today is a new day. Today I am doing just fine.