Why am I fat? I’ll tell you why I’m fat. It’s because I eat. Actually, it’s not the regular, run-of-the-mill eating that gets me in trouble. Nope. My meals are typically quite healthy, and well portioned. It’s the emotional eating that is the hard part.
I realize that I need to find a better way to deal with my emotions. While that brownie soothes the immediate emotions, I am left feeling worse than I did before the brownie. Last week, I had the brilliant idea to exercise instead of eating. After all, I do feel better after a workout. But, that idea quickly passed, and I ate something (most likely carbs. Why can’t I eat lettuce to comfort myself?) Sure, working out is a great idea, but I don’t think it will work for me (at least not yet). Hopefully one day, I’ll love exercising so much that I turn to it for comfort instead of that bag of fudgie-os.
(On a side note: I have a friend who cleans his house when he’s upset. I’m trying to find a way of inviting him over to my place and then pissing him off. I wish I was one of those people who did housework to soothe the soul. My house would be freaky clean!)
I know that this whole issue of emotional eating stands between me and my health. This is something I’ve been doing for a very long time. Today, my therapist reminded me that I’ve been turning to food to cope since the age of twelve. It’s a deeply ingrained habit. This is not just an “eating” issue. It’s an emotional issue, and it’s a conditioned behaviour. I need to change my habits as well as learning to deal with the emotions.
My therapist and I spent most of the hour talking about this issue today. She helped me see that, while the idea of exercising was a great alternative, it probably won’t work for me because it’s not something I really enjoy at this point. I need to replace the emotional eating with another action. Just trying not to eat won’t work. I’ve tried. It just makes matters worse. I need to find something enjoyable with which to replace the emotional eating.
When my emotions overwhelm me and I can’t deal with them, I pick up something sweet. A cookie from Starbucks, a butter tart, a high-quality chocolate bar…. anything loaded with carbs and usually chocolate. Very rarely do I crave salty foods. Substituting an apple or other fruit just won’t cut it. I’ve tried.
After some discussion about the things that trigger me, the emotions and thought patterns that occur before, during and after eating to soothe my emotions, and looking at what hasn’t worked, I came up with a great idea!!
Not any tea.
Really. Good. Tea.
Expensive tea. Tea that costs more than pot. (Not that I know how much marijuana costs…. but damn, good tea is expensive!)
There’s this tea store in the mall that sells gourmet loose tea. They have tea that has little bits of chocolate in it. They have tea that contains sprinkles for heaven’s sake. This is some serious tea. Seriously cool tea I tell ya!
This is my plan:
The next time I’m struggling with my emotions and want to eat, I will treat myself to a cup of gourmet tea. Something sweet, maybe with bits of chocolate and preferably caffeine-free (as most of my emotional eating happens in the evening, and the last thing I need is to be wide awake and depressed).
Here is why this is a kick-ass plan:
1. It’s sweet. It will satisfy my need for something sugary-tasting to calm my emotions. I’m pretty certain that it’s the taste, not the texture, that I crave.
2. It takes time to make tea. While I wait for the water to boil and the tea to steep, I can take time to assess what it is I am feeling.
3. Tea is soothing and relaxing. When have you ever had a cup of tea that left you feeling bad after having had it?
4. Tea takes time to drink. You can’t chug a cup of hot tea. A brownie? Easily gone in under a minute. You can’t deal with emotions in under a minute. In the time it takes me to drink this gourmet goodness, I can calm down and face the emotions that I would normally run away from (and run to that cookie).
See? Great idea. It gives me something active to do, it panders to my sweet tooth, and it’s healthier than a cookie! Even if the tea does have bits of chocolate in it, it will still be far less calories than an entire bag of oreos.
I’ll let you know how it goes. How have you dealt with emotional eating? I’d love to hear your ideas!