I don’t have a weight problem, I have an eating problem

Yep – you heard me. My weight is not my problem…my style of eating is my problem. My tendancy to eat lots of flour and sugar at 5pm is my problem. My need to eat my feelings is my problem.

If I were 164 pounds, but most of those pounds were muscle, I wouldn’t have a problem with my weight. That number is just…a number.

And the fat on my thighs? It really is not the object of my hate. A source of disappointment, yes. But hate? No.

The number on the scale, the jiggly thighs, the bat wings, they are not in and of themselves, the problem.  They are the physical manifestation of my lack of self care and lack of knowledge about how to best express my emotions. When you see me and see that I am a good 20-30 pounds overweight, what you are really seeing is years and years and layers and layers of boredom, stress, anxiety, loneliness, disappointment,  heartache, happiness, and joy – all soothed and encouraged with food.

I tried a little experiment a couple of days ago. Instead of eating right after I got home from work, I tried to just deal the anxiety of the transition. I tried to just “sit with the feeling” and damn, it was hard. I think I kind of get in small way how a smoker feels when they decide to quit. It was not a pleasant feeling, so I soothed it with whatever was handy…I can’t even remember what it was that I ate.

So yeah, I’m an emotional eater. I’ve confirmed it. I’ve diagnosed myself as an overeater. Now I have to figure out how to deal with it. Notice, I didn’t say “conquer” it – I said deal with it, because I don’t think I’ll ever conquer my need to eat for emotional reasons. If I can at least find a way to deal with it though, and live somewhat peacefully with it, that would be good enough for me. Coexisting peacefully, that’s all I really want.

I can go on any diet in the world right now, and I would fail, because it doesn’t matter if I’m eating donuts or carrots, if I”m eating them to comfort myself, I won’t lose weight.  Believe me, I’ve overeaten a salad just as ravenously as a slice of pie – different foods, same need to soothe. I’ve overeaten healthy food just as much as I’ve overeaten junk food. One may be nutritionally better than the other, but does it really solve the deeper issue? No.  And that deeper issue is the one I want to face head-on. I want to confront it and put it on a leash, so that I can have some control over it, and not the other way around.

So that’s where I am right now. Ordering books, doing exercises, and thinking –  lots and lots of thinking in hopes that I can start to inch my way to a happier place.

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10 thoughts on “I don’t have a weight problem, I have an eating problem

  1. I was just thinking this morning how healthy I would be if I didn’t sabotage my efforts by bingeing. Sometimes it’s a nervous, anxiety-filled energy within me that doesn’t listen to reason. You know I’ve given myself that back-to-basics challenge to drink more water, and I noticed it’s been helping. It’s only been two weeks, but I’ve noticed a difference in my compulsive eating (but it’s been two calm, in-law-free weeks…maybe it’s a correlation, maybe a coincidence). How’s your hydration?

    • Actually Gina, drinking water is one thing I do really well! I bring a 64 oz container of water with me to work and I drink that all day long. I know I get at least 48 oz per day, most of the time, more than that.

  2. This is a really amazing post. I think you’re absolutely right that those of us who struggle with emotional eating tend to think that our weight is the problem, when it really is just the physical manifestation of the problem. So well-put!

    And wow, I know how hard it is to “sit” with a tough feeling. I went for years and years without even feeling anxiety because I would immediately eat it away. Like you, I don’t think I’ll ever have “conquered” the issue; rather, I’m on a continuous journey to find a better relationship with my emotions and with myself.

    Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  3. Excellent post.

    I don’t know if I’ll ever get to a place where I’m comfortable with food. Like you, I can stuff my emotions with carrots or cake. It really doesn’t mater what it is. Good luck working through the emotions of overeating. I’m still working on it too.

  4. I would really love to hear the answer you come up with regarding the emotional eating and what to do about it. This is a big problem for me too. I totally understand what you are going thru, been there, done that. I also love to eat when I am happy, sad, stressed, bored, and everything else you can think of. My stomach can be overfull but if I see or even hear of any kind of food, I’m up for it. I’ve been looking for a quick fix for this for years but there is none, at least not an easy one. Any help or insight you can give would be most appreciated.

  5. Good Job Jill. I would guess that many of us in weight loss land would agree with your evaluation of the situation . I’m looking forward to seeing that book. Kinda skeptical since its not a best seller, but…

  6. I love the title of this blog and all that it implies. I have an eating problem too. And I just was explaining to my husband the other day that my goal is not to weigh a certain amount but to conquer my eating issues.

  7. Oh, I hear ya. Happy/neutral & busy? No problem. Stressed and/or bored? Oh, my. I’ve gotten smarter about *what* I binge on, and even–to some degree–how much, but it still happens.

    Sitting with the feelings. Why do I keep forgetting something so simple and powerful?

  8. This is a great post. I have found journaling about food has allowed me to recognize emotional eating patterns. But it’s still a struggle. I ate 2 ice cream sandwiches yesterday after a rough and exhausting day with my 3 year old. I am back on the wagon today–but yeah, it’s a journey.

  9. SOmetimes a lot of thinking and stress will make your weight go down, but that’s because you are already getting sick. Continue with ordering books aND doing exercise, it will get you somewhere. Believe in yourself, and you will get good results. Check out the Essential Weight Loss Handbook that I am reading on how to maintain a healthier and sexier life and body. Good day!

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