My Emotional Eating

We gain weight because we consume more energy than we burn but the reasons for over consumption vary wildly. I overeat for a lot of reasons. Sometimes, I genuinely feel hungry and I simply overestimate what I need, but more often, I am reacting to something in my life or environment.

I’ve had some medical problems recently, namely knee injuries picked up from when I ran that marathon back in October. I’m in physical therapy now to help heal but my ability to run is reduced. By a lot. I was logging 40 mile weeks leading up to the marathon and now I’m lucky if I manage 10. And half of those are painful.

Because I’m not exercising, I can’t eat as much as I want. I also have many hours to fill that would normally be spent running. And I’m upset a lot of the time. I’m angry about my injuries. On top of that, running releases endorphins, and I’m really missing that. So I’m filling my time and salving my wounds with delicious food. As a result, I’m now on track to gain weight this year.

I’ve gained this kind of insight into my eating habits after these two years of watching my diet. Unfortunately, I often don’t catch myself and figure out the cause until the eating is done. The only time I can really control my eating is when I have some thought behind my efforts so I can try to predict what my triggers might be and how to overcome them.

One of my biggest issues now is eating at night. I’m definitely doing more of it than I should. Sometimes it’s because I’m bored. Other times it’s just because I find myself in front of the TV and what goes better with a movie than popcorn?

What I am working on right now is coming up with a short list of approved snacks and a few things that I absolutely cannot have. Resisting something (like that delicious banana bread on my counter right now) gives me a sense of accomplishment but having a few approved snacks gives me a bit of a pressure release valve. I’m also trying to keep myself busy. Playing video games mostly but always something interactive.

I also know that there are some days that I simply can’t control myself. Thanksgiving or Christmas, anyone? This is a hard season for weight loss or even weight management. So I’ve turned into the skid. Instead of trying to restrict myself on those days, I eat whatever I want. And I plan on eating a little less the day before and the day after. Things even out over time and one day of poor eating habits won’t tip the whole table over.

The most important thing for me has been learning to take the shame out of eating. And that’s really hard so I try to be very clinical in my approach. Learning about nutrition has certainly helped me in this. It’s very easy to see weight management in a disinterested way when you’ve read up as much of the research as you can. And I remind myself that I can change right that very moment. That I don’t have to let what I’ve done haunt me and that I can do something different next time. It sounds silly, but it helps.

I’m learning that the truly hard work is controlling my eating habits when I can’t exercise and when it seems like everything is going wrong. And for me, it’s time to go to work.

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