It happened just the other night. A container of caramel gelato, about half-full. I was only going to have one or two bites, just because I was craving something sweet, because I was angry and upset, and I needed something. What I needed wasn’t food, but food–caramel gelato–was there for me. I ate it right out of the round container, sitting in front of the television, watching the Real Housewives of Orange County. So cliché. I hated it–I was hating myself for eating it, and then eating more as a punishment. I wished the container were glass, so that when I finally threw it into the trash, it would have shattered. Breaking something would have felt good at that moment.
So, yeah, emotional eating. It sucks. It happens to all of us. I wish I could write this post as Five Ways To Stop Emotional Eating! Number Three Will Amaze You! But I don’t have any easy answers.
The next morning I woke up in a bad mood. I hadn’t slept well, so it felt like the night never ended–I never got a break. Of course I was crabby. (Thankfully I didn’t have to teach a yoga class!) But I did have to make a conscious decision. Was I going to let this ruin my whole day? Was I going to continue punishing myself for the ice cream? Stay angry and upset? No, I didn’t want to. But it’s hard to let go of emotions sometimes, know what I mean? It can be hard to shake it off and move on.
Especially when the issue that caused the emotional eating wasn’t resolved. But that was something I couldn’t change, at least not that day.
But I knew I couldn’t wallow in it. So I did the things that I knew would help.
I went to the gym and kept to my regular exercise schedule. That day was an elliptical workout, with a long walk. Lots of stretching. I turned on a podcast: Ask A Clean Person. She was talking about laundry, and how to get your gym clothes to stop smelling like sweat, and she’s funny, so it got me laughing. After that I fixed a healthy breakfast, including ripe peaches, which taste like summer to me. I gave myself permission to curl up and read for a while. (That part was easy because I happened to be without my computer for a few days, so my work was at a standstill.) I took Zoey for a long walk. I let myself think about good things, like a love-based solution to the problem. I meditated.
It worked. At the end of the day, I felt better.
So my advice isn’t exactly Five Things To Stop Emotional Eating. Maybe it’s more like Five Ways To Prepare For Recovering From Emotional Eating. I already knew what to do to make myself feel better. I’ve done lots of work over the past twelve months on figuring out what things feed my soul, like music, exercise, art, dance, etc. I knew to make a conscious decision to let go of the issue, to let go of the need to stay angry and keep festering.
Maybe one day I’ll be able to skip over the emotional eating part and jump right into the Making Myself Feel Better part.
How about you?