I think both of my parents were emotional eaters and modelled the behavior for me, so I can't fully place how soon it started. I was a very active child and wasn't overweight until about 3rd grade, when I was reading alot more and playing outside less, but I suspect I was emotionally eating far younger than that. My parents indulged me with sweets and used it for treats, just as they did for themselves. In high school I again became very active playing tennis. I think I have had some emotional eating as far back as I can remember, but have sometimes managed without a weight problem with high levels of activity.
Now, with Shrink Yourself, is the first time I am learning to maintain my weight be not eating emotionally.
When my kids were growing up, there wasn't a lot of money for a lot of extra food around the house. That sort of negates over-eating so maybe not having a lot of money is a bonus. To me, junk food was always literally a luxury. We ate home cooked, balanced meals, had a soda once in awhile as a treat, and a bag of potato chips for a holiday week end party as opposed to a daily ritual.
The kids grew up and left the nest, the cars were paid for, the mortgage was paid off and over the course of time there was more money to spend. We started spending on stupid things like dozens of donuts, bags of chips, cans of nuts, all sorts of new flavors of ice cream and any other kind of food that looked good in the store. And we ate it as though throwing it away would be some cardinal sin. Heaven forbid that a handful of potato chips or one cookie should be wasted. We had to hurry up and eat them so we could go buy more!
The next thing you know, none of our clothes fit so we had to buy new clothes. That cycle continued for nearly 20 years.
I still cooked wholesome meals, by the way. We'd order an occasional pizza or stop at McDonald's if we were hungry and I didn't feel like cooking upon occasion but fast food/junk food has never been a daily meal habit because I never considered that real food. Problem is, after we eat our "real" food, we'd sit in front of the TV every night mindlessly munching away on all those snacks. I don't eat donuts for breakfast, never have, but I definitely wasn't shy about grabbing a couple as a morning snack and chasing it with a candy bar. And when you have sugar, you have to have salt so oh, those little bags of chips were handy to have around! I don't know if everyone else knows this or not but the more junk you eat, the more you crave. So bad habits made me a binge eater and I am waiting for the day when I can trust myself not to fall off the wagon.
Now, literally a hundred pounds later, retired and on a fixed income, we are (once again) weaning ourselves off most of the junk. There is seldom any soda of any kind in our refrigerator. Water became our drink of choice as much as five years ago. That was the first really positive change for me and it did wonders. That and walking every day whether I wanted to or not helped me lose 45 lbs. which I gained back in about a year with binge eating due to lack of activity.
Today, the freezer and cupboard space is either empty or filling up with real ingredients for recipes I'll probably never make before the ingredients expire and I'm trying to break myself of the habit of buying 20 packages instead of 1 of whatever's on sale. But at least it's real food, not half gallons of ice cream, cookies, candy and bag after bag of salty snacks.
I'm proud to say, I only buy one package of cookies or one bag of chips at a time these days. Although there is candy of some kind in the house, it is the kind that is least likely to tempt me and if I get a craving for a chocolate bar, I buy one, not ten.
One day, one step, one inch at a time. I haven't lost a lot of weight because they aren't kidding when they say the older you get, the harder it is to lose. But I've lost a considerable amount of "girth" in the past few months since I made up my mind that I am tired of not being able to breathe, walk, or squeeze into brand new clothes that I never got to wear because I gained another five pounds since I bought them.
Every time I step on the scale, I get disappointed again; but every time I look in the mirror or zip up my jeans without feeling like a human sausage, I know that something is changing and I feel a little better about myself.
When I was younger, I can remember eating well. I used to eat a small amount at the dinner table. Then in a few hours, I needed a snack. My parents told me I should have ate more at dinner and often times didn't want to provide a snack. I eventaully adapted to eating more at the dinner table. I can remember when I was about 15 years old, my mom commented on how I ate less than anyone in the family. Instead of seeing this as a compliment, I felt alienated. The next dinner we had a my grandma's I remembered stuffing myself till I was about to burst. I liked it. It made me relaxed and sleepy. From that day on, I think I started to eat more than normal.
Now, I believe there are other sources to my eating problems. I think I started 'eating my feelings' after my first boyfriend. That was a rough time in my life and I think I found comfort in food.
I'm sure there are other reasons why I became a binge eater that I am unaware of. I most defiantly hope to get back to eating like I used to when I was younger. It seems like it was MUCH easier to get off track that it will be to get back on!
I had always been a chubby kid, but I was WELL within' the range of 'normal to slightly overweight' until I was 14.
I got into some 'bad girl' legal trouble, was sent to juvenile detention, when I got out, my mom sent me to live with my gparents, it had happened before, but this time, they got custody.
When I had lived with my mom prior to that, there was a time when she made the comment, "Go eat in the tv room, ___ (step dad) doesn't want to see you when he gets home."
Which was, whatever, (She has since said, 'oh what I probably MEANT was....but 20 some years later, the damnage is done.) anyhow, when I moved in with my gparents, they always made a big production out of dinner, invited over friends and family and asked me how my day was and insisted I sit and eat with them. NO eating in the tv room!
To this day (I'm just starting to learn to break the associations) I associate food with family and celebration, and feelng valued.
I often invite friends to go out to eat, (food is generally unhealthy in restaurants in general), just because I know we will be sitting at a table, talking, with no tv or distractions.
I have to keep telling myself:
Food is not family, food is nourishment, and your family will be able to love you longer if you are healthy fro them.
Food is not celebration, food is nourishment, celebration is spending time with family and friends, regardless of any junk food that may be around.
I became one as a direct reaction to my father being concerned and critical about my weight as I entered puberty when I was 13. From that day on I would sneak candy and eat it as soon as he went to sleep, "to spite him". It's a habit that I maintained for 35 years and even transferred over to my husband until it became so clear that the only person I was spiting was myself that I couldn't even justify or try to rationalize it anymore.
How about you, what is your story?
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (NIV)
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