Since getting sober on August 18th, 2012, another problem surfaced to the top of my life, and that is one of emotional eating. OR eating my feelings is what I like to call it. Insert long Sigh.
I want to clarify before I continue, I do not believe I have a FOOD ADDICTION. I can stop eating and stay pretty consistent with eating healthy.
I noticed the emotional eating thing for sure that the first year of my sobriety, I pretty much just ate to cope and gave myself grace as the "the itch' for alcohol would come to haunt me every night past the hours of 5 pm. This too happens in recovery, when you get Sober, your mind and body crave sugar. Rember alcohol is sugar, and so if you are drinking every day, you are feeding not only your alcohol addiction but now a sugar addiction.
MY first year goes by, eat my feelings then get to a point around my one-year sober birthday and feel gross and ready to take on the vision I have always had for myself. Living a healthy and fit lifestyle, which I am happy to say I do. I started using exercise as a tool in my recovery and subscribing to more vigorous, cleaner options of food and leading me to become a health and fitness coach.
I was very consistent for a few years, practicing what I preached until my husband and I started trying to have a baby and learned we would have to go through the whole IVF journey.
For anyone who goes through this, you know and get it the emotional toll it takes on you and your marriage. NO amount of personal development and workouts can help anyone when you continuously go through a loss when your period shows up, month after month. Then you are told one day that you will never have a baby naturally and it will cost you 25,000 dollars after you already spent thousands on medications, IUI's, acupuncture treatments and doctors appointments.
My attitude now becomes "GIVE ME ALL THE COOKIES AND COLA IN THE WORLD."
It's hard to digest, not the amount of sugary goodness I put in my body but the thought of paying thousands to have a child while people all around you are getting pregnant without even trying.
So for the past four years, I have been on this emotional eating rollercoaster.
It's a blessing and a curse because it's made me exam how I have never had a healthy relationship with food since I could remember. It took me my clarity in my recovery with alcoholism and my journey with IVF to see this.
On this journey, I have also learned, people with addiction issues, where there is one addiction don't be surprised to find two to three more. I, for sure, had a shopping issue for those first two years of my recovery, but that is another blog for another day. I quit smoking cigarettes six weeks after I quit drinking. I just gave you four addictions that surround me.
Growing up, there was always a lack of food in my house. We didn't have much structure of anything other than just taking care of yourselves. Never was forced to eat breakfast. I ate lunch at school and would come home from school to an empty fridge. Dinner would consist of eating out somewhere or take out.
I didn't grow up with a mom who cooked or went grocery shopping. I'm not blaming my mother for this either; everyone is handed their deck of cards in life. We do the best we can, and everyone's best is different. I remember my sister doing the grocery shopping when this option was given to us.
When food would be in the house, it was eaten right away cause I would never know when it would return. It was almost like a binge.
When I would go to my Dad's house on the weekends, he would always let me bake some sweet treat, and he would provide "food structure" for us kids. Food was still in the pantry, there were options of eating, and I never felt like food would run out over there. It was a push-pull of food, two different relationships I had with it in two different locations.
SO for years, this cycle of food deprivation was massive until I got out on my own, and when I moved out on my own at age 19, that is when my addiction to alcohol started.
Being hungover for a solid ten years doesn't help your food cycle either. I usually spent days dry heaving and then finally eating around 8 pm. I got sober at 29, so for those twenty years, I had this unhealthy relationship with food.
We have to think about food daily; we have to eat to live. The thought is in my head every day. The last four years with my emotional eating it comes and goes in waves. I will have my super consistent days, weeks of myself sticking to my clean food allowing myself a cheat meal for the week, and practicing what I preach. Then I will have a month I say fuck it, and eat my feelings cause life stresses that get in the way.
I use to go for the booze during these times now I go for the Oreos. The comfort of the sugar goodness feels good going down as I ingest it, almost like a warm, fuzzy feeling you get inside. Then the high of the sugar kicks in, you soothe, and the crash comes after.
Talk about a cycle! A lot like drinking.
In my awaken state for the last eight months, ever since I started working with my coach, I have learned my Self Sabotage is me resisting. Somewhere along my travels in life, I started believing I was not good enough to feel good. Do you self sabotage? Does this sound familiar? Mindfulness, meditations, journaling, and hiring a coach have helped me tremendously in discovering WHY I keep doing so.
I know for me, emotional eating will always be my vice and something I will have to work on continually, but I also have to give myself some grace with it. You and I can't be perfect all of the time even if I'm a sober/wellness coach. I speak my truth to my clients and strive to do the best I can each day. That's all we can do.
I have also learned these top 5 tips to help me in times of when I feel like emotionally eating is about to hit.
1) Be aware of your feelings. This is a good one because if you are mindful of how you are feeling, you can understand why you want to eat emotionally.
2) Drink 8 to 16oz of water before you start to eat. Water will fill you up, and you will less likely be able to eat that whole bag of cookies.
3) Ask yourself is this an eating opportunity you want. This question has helped me a lot. It makes you think about your day, what type of energy you put into it. As in, you worked out, ate well all day and then do you want to mess that up at 8 pm because something triggered you? Think about it. Ask yourself this for next time and see how the mindset shift happens, you will often say NO.
4) Meditate. It's a great way to destress your mind and to relax. Meditation is a tool, and one that should we all should do every day. It also helps with mindfulness, which will help you recognize feelings and why you are emotionally eating.
5) Seek support if you need to! There is no shame in asking for help, and we all can use it.
To listen to more about emotional eating and tips to help you, listen to our Emotional Eating Episode. Click HERE TO LISTEN
To check out The Emotional Eater shirts, check out our new Campaign!