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If You're Happy and You Know It - Eat a Donut!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

In keeping with my commitment to make changes both physically and mentally I have been working on my very obvious and long standing problem with emotional eating. I have checked some very helpful books out of the library and have been studying what triggers it for people, why it happens and ways to redirect the habit into something that is healthier.

One thing I never noticed but since reading these books I've taken to heart is, as an emotional eater not only do I eat when I'm sad, lonely, depressed, angry and many other 'negative' mindsets but I also emotionally eat when I'm happy! Why? Because we associate celebration with food - we go out for dinner for our birthdays, anniversaries, to celebrate a new job, a new baby, a new car - whatever you can think to celebrate it's usually done around a table with your friends and family eating a big happy meal. But why? This is something I've been thinking about this week. Why when we celebrate do we always surround this celebration by food? Is there nothing that other people can do together to celebrate? (I don't have an answer, I"m just throwing this question out there).

So let's take yesterday for example. I was feeling pretty awesome. Lost 4lbs for the second week in a row. And what am I thinking of by the afternoon? What kind of meal I'm going to celebrate that loss with. Now WHY would I celebrate losing weight with FOOD? My mind naturally gravitates toward food - thinking of it, planning it, salivating over it. I had a frozen pizza for dinner. Don't get me wrong, it was awesome. It was all on plan, I did not exceed my daily calories and I made myself eat salad before I ate the pizza. But I know that in the back of my mind I was telling myself, you deserve this pizza. You worked hard and now you can reward yourself with food. Later at a friend's house, she had Timbits. Now some Americans will know what these are but all Canadians will. They're essentially donut holes. They pack about 60-90 calories a piece and 5g of fat in each one. I had enough calories left in my day to have 2. So I did. Again because in the back of my mind, I was rewarding myself for staying on track and losing 4lbs this week.

But THAT is what I need to remedy. That thought process that revolves around food and rewarding, celebrating, planning, obsessing, thinking about and generally involving many aspects of my life around food. I need to find ways to celebrate and reward myself with something else and LOVE that something else. And start to think of food as fuel for my body - not a reward for my wins or a salve for my losses.

So happy or sad, mad or glad - I'm still attaching a food label to it. Do you do this? Are you aware that you do this? What types of tools do you have in your toolbox to address this issue?

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I still allow myself to celebrate by eating out, but it's not so I can overeat. It's the experience of having someone else cook and wait on me, and to enjoy food that would be a hassle for me to cook myself. I study menus in advance and/or take half my food home so it's not an uncontrolled eating situation.
    1878 days ago
    I totally feel you. For me, it comes and goes. Some days I can be sad and mad and not really care what I eat, beyond the usual counting and looking for healthy choices.

    Other days, it's like, chorus after chorus of Only Mac And Cheese Can Heal My Aching Heart.

    I never did any research on emotional eating, I just kind of trial and error'd it. And I am hearing what you mean - the day to day stuff. I think that's what a lot of people don't get. Like "I will reward myself with a new outfit when I reach ____ pounds", yeah that's great. I do that too. But it's different. We are talking about, like, the reward and comfort system that goes with everyday minor events. I think a lot of people have never experienced that. They can't all be purchase related or going somewhere because that gets expensive!

    My strategy depends on the day. I have totally had whatever it is I "Need". Like, I'm so tired and mad and cranky, I want grilled cheese! So I checked my tracker to see what I could "afford", and ate a slightly smaller portion of my planned healthy dinner, plus a half grilled cheese sandwich. One slice of high fiber bread, measured the butter and cheese, tracked it before. Sometimes that really helps me, you know? My life cannot be "I can never eat a grilled cheese sandwich EVER AGAIN" because I will go insane, and die. (okay, I'm exaggerating...) But I also cannot just throw health to the wind and eat crap whenever I feel down.

    Other times I just know... somehow, I just KNOW, that if I make a pot of mac and cheese, I'll eat the whole damn thing. So I do NOT make a pot of mac and cheese, and I do something else to make myself feel better. Usually watch a movie. I actually have movies that I refer to as "comfort food movies".... I never really thought about that in detail as a replacement for emotional eating until just this second. Ha. So I still "soothe" myself with something, just not food. Instead of "I had a horrible day, I totally need chocolate chip cookies," I go "I had a horrible day, so instead of cleaning the bathroom and filing this mail like I *should*? I'm going to watch a movie I've seen 10,000 times because it makes me happy."

    It will get better with time. I am a lot better now about not always reaching for food first, be it happy or sad. I couldn't tell you exactly when it got better, and it's not ALWAYS easy and effortless, but it's easy more often than I expected. It wasn't any ONE thing, a combination of strategies helps me. Just the fact that you are aware of it and thinking about it is doing the right thing.
    1878 days ago
    With the plan I am doing, when I finish each 6-weeks quest, I get to celebrate by doing a happy dance, getting new armor and weapon, and trying out my new skills that I get for leveling up.

    The Happy Dance is something fun & active, a walk thru the zoo, a swimming trip, etc
    The new armor can be a workout outfit, new running shoes, buying a pair of my own skates for the skating rink, etc etc.
    The weapon can be a DVD like Hungry for Change or a new workout, or even something off the wall like one of those half-wobble balls.
    And trying out my new skills means I get to make myself a fresh new workout, with a fun goal like learning how to do at least one pushup, or completing a 5k.

    Its WAY funner than just eating some unhealthy rubbish that doesn't add to the life you are trying to create.

    1882 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/30/2013 11:49:31 AM
    I completely understand where you're coming from. Food is connected to everything. What worked for me is flowers. I have a good week I go buy myself a carnation or a single rose. I made an entire reward system for it. If I track 5 out of 7 days i get a carnation (I struggle with tracking) If I track for 7 out of 7 I get a rose! The prizes go up from there. If I have a week where I stay in my goals And track I get a bouquet of flowers or a houseplant. If I do it for a month, I get some spa time. I make a bunch of little goals and reward myself for that. When I lose weight I get something every 5 pounds. It's small stuff, like a new scrapbook die cut for my machine, or a book. I don't get crazy, but it separates it from food. I even take pictures of them and pin them up on the fridge or at work or I have one taped to my scale right now to help me stay focused. It is really helping. The trick is to find something else you're passionate about or enjoy. Connect rewards to your other hobbies and less to food. emoticon mm emoticon m
    1884 days ago
    when I am happy and I know it, I usually do something constructive, walking, housework or go work outside in the yard, makes me happier
    1884 days ago
  • MARIANNE9855
    I think feasting to celebrate or even to mourn is a long human tradition-even in third world countries where they don't have a lot of food. Going back in history I can't think of a society that did not celebrate with food. So I don't think that's a bad thing- I guess the questions is what do you do the rest of the time.
    I am so glad I am going back to work for so many reasons but one is so I have a little more money so I can identify treats that I can buy for weight loss- the only thing food like might be a special tea or some special health food that is a little more expensive but is within my plan- I just discovered vita muffin tops which are so delicious and I know I won't want more than one.

    At WWs I earned this charm when I lost 25 pounds and I thought now what am I going to do with that- it was kind of big and clunky- then this week I hear that you get a key ring for losing 10% of your weight and that's what you put the charm on. Now I am psyched because if I lose 2.6 more pounds- I will be at 10% so I want to earn that next week or at least very shortly.

    I also confess that I get totally psyched now about winning spark trophies and I am currently trying to figure out how to exercise above my usual time the next three days so I can add 105 min and get to 1000 min a month.

    so as everything else it is baby steps that help us make changes plus a little creativity and thinking outside of the box.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1884 days ago
    Celebrate things without food. Maybe a scarf or a manicure. Better yet take yourself somewhere you have to walk. A museum or a Zoo or the like. Just some suggestions!
    1884 days ago
    I come from a family where all good things revolve around food. I have been sabotaging all my hard work with inappropriate eating. Is that "emotional eating"?
    1884 days ago
  • JUNEBUG160
    So funny how we do that hey? I worked out so now I can eat Easter treats. yeah...Good for you for thinking about it in a different light. In our society food equals comfort... If we were part of a third world society, food would equal life sustenance and our comfort would come from family and security. As for being rewarded for achievements, if we could just teach ourselves to be happy with the goal achieved we'd be much better off. This being human thing is hard work mentally. Congratulations on your weight loss, keep up the good work.
    1884 days ago
    I do celebrate with food, but not as much like that. I mean, I will have a slice of birthday cake at birthdays, and such. I don't really think that is a bad thing. It is not a "reward" persay, but a special occasion. THe thing is, even if I don't think of celebrating with that anymore, I would be the only one in my family, so there will be treats at EVERY birthday celebration. It is unavoidable. So, I can choose to either skip it, or learn to practice moderation, eating a small portion, and then realizing that one piece didn't mess up my goals.

    That being said, since before the beginning of March, I haven't had even 1 bite of sugar. Well, I've had natural sugars like in fruit, but that is it. I'm doing that to get off the fact that my body loves the sugar. I could seriously eat what would make a normal person feel like vomiting and go for more. Or at least, I could have before I started this. My goal is to do this for a year, with breaks here and there, for only special occasions. Birthdays, etc. For example, I will allow myself a treat or two on Easter Sunday. But then, come Monday, I'm back up on it and ignoring sugar until the end of May, when my baby turns 2!!! Then, back on it! I figure if I can do this for a year, then my body will just see those as "treats" and maybe I will occasionally want one, and maybe I won't, but at least I will have practiced healthy moderation.

    I wish you luck!!! IT won't be easy to change it all, but it will be worth it!
    1884 days ago
    Find non-food rewards. When I got to 175 I bought myself a season of a show that I love, When I hit 170 I get to get a new hairstyle at a professional salon (usually go to the beauty college), 165 New running outfit etc.
    You can do this. Blessings on your journey.
    1884 days ago
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