Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Food Is Your Friend

Disclaimer:  Before we get started, I would just like to make a few comments.  This post is about emotional eating.  I do NOT believe that emotional eating is a typical excuse like those previously discussed.  Emotional eating is a problem that many people deal with, myself being one of them.  This post's purpose is to bring to light symptoms of emotional eating, and healthier ways to deal with it.

You've had a rough day at work, you want nothing more than to curl up on the couch with a bag of chips for the rest of the night.  You have a fight with a significant other, or maybe broke up, time to grab a pint of ice-cream to drown your sorrows.  You just got that promotion you've been waiting for, time to buy Krispy Kremes for the whole office to celebrate.  You're so bored, you don't know what to do with yourself.  Time to grab that giant bag of buttery popcorn and watch the movie that you've been wanting to see for a while.

No matter what your mood is, there's always a junk food friend there for you.  The reality is, though, with friends like these - who needs enemies?  Your junk food friend is always there to listen, allows you to get through your mood - whatever it may be - but then what?  How long does that great feeling last?  How long after your great time with "junky" do you start to feel guilty?  Uh oh, you start to feel guilty.  Should you really have eaten the whole bag of chips, enjoyed every last bite of the pint of ice-cream, or eaten the whole bag of popcorn during the movie?  How quick does it take for that friendly relationship to turn into one of hate or disappointment?

Emotional eating is a real problem.  After all the hard work you've been doing to eat healthy, work-out..and now you're drowned with guilt over the junk food splurge.  Well, it's time to get some new friends.  You need friends that aren't going to make you feel guilty, that still give you that great feeling you get when you've enjoyed all that chocolaty or salty goodness, but stays there with you - not bailing on you - that continues to offer support at all times.

So, what are your alternatives?  You really don't want to break that friendship you've had for so long.  It's the only true friendship you've ever had to deal with your moods....who are you going to turn to now?  You're going to turn to the three friends that will NEVER let you down!! You're going to build a solid relationship with them, trust them, grow to love them - and end up wondering what you ever saw in those other so-called "friends".  Who are they?  Healthy food, exercise, and your support network.

What?? Am I crazy?? No, I'm not.  I know, you don't think munching on a bag of veggies is going to give you the same satisfaction the chips or popcorn gives.  You highly doubt that an apple is going to show you the same love that chocolate does.  Exercise is the last thing you want to turn to after the day you've had....but it's time to give them a chance.  They really love you a lot more than you think - it's all about you letting them show you how.

Let's try the beginning scenarios a different way.  Don't leave - just hear me out:

You've had a hard day at work.  You're exhausted.  You know that you need to get things done when you get home - but how are you going to find the energy?  Before you go home, you decide to go for a walk around the parking lot.  Nothing too fast.  You walk, take deep breaths, allow the air to clear your mind.  Listen to some music, or to the hub of traffic driving by.  What's that?  You start to feel less stressed?  You start to feel a sense of calm?  Wow - who would of known that a 10 minute walk could do so much?  You get back to your car, drive home, and greet your family with a sense of new-found energy...time to start helping with homework and preparing dinner. 

You've just had a terrible fight with your significant other.  You're so stressed, your so upset.  You are definitely in no mood to go for a walk - that's just not going to cut it!  It's time to pick up the phone.  Call your mom, your best-friend, your sister or brother....someone that will listen.  None of those people would listen?  Then you call ME!!  You have worked on building a support system for a reason - it's time to cash in your credits and put them to the test.  You feel like you in no way, shape or form could call someone with that kind of problem?  OK, then write! Sit down at your computer, or dig out a notebook and write down everything your feeling.  You will be amazed at how therapeutic writing can be.

You just got the promotion you've been wanting for months.  You want to celebrate!!   Then round up the family and cook a great meal to celebrate!! You can treat yourself, you earned it.  One Krispy Kreme has about the same calories as a nice meal - so which would you rather partake in?  Even if you do opt for something a little out of the realm of healthy - it will probably still have less calories than a donut...and much more satisfaction.

Your bored.  There's nothing good on TV, you're not in the mood to read a book.  Your kids are whining that they're bored, too.  Well, then how about a game of soccer outside or a trip to a park for a picnic?  If it's hot outside - then get out the sprinklers and water hose and have a water fight.  Go to the local pool for some refreshing swimming.  What?  It's at night when the boredom sets in?  Then dig out the board games or playing cards.  If your kids are too young for that - break out the blankets and build a living room fort.  Dig out the 90 calorie granola bars, crumble them up into a baggie, and make camping trail mix.  If you're bored - HAVE FUN!!

The first step in breaking your friendship with "junky" is by not allowing him into your house.  If he's there, you're going to turn to him.  If he's not, then your more than likely going to find an alternative.  If nothing else works, and you really feel like eating...turn to my post about healthy snack alternatives.  There are a million and one ways to deal with emotional eating - the hard part is finding something else that satisfies you.  My recent new friend has become my running.  Even on nights when I want nothing more than to just snack away on the couch - I MAKE myself go to the track.  I start out with walking, breathing, relaxing...and eventually the need to run kicks in.  If I'm in a situation where I can't just go to the track - I  usually end up with a snack.  The difference is, though, I've found new friends: cottage cheese, hummus, cucumber slices, fat-free frozen yogurt, and fat-free jello pudding.  They ease my cravings, cure my current ails, and don't leave me with the guilty feeling. Eating six times a day has really helped me overcome the need to snack, because I'm pretty much eating constantly.  If I'm the mood after dinner for some frozen yogurt instead of the apple and peanut butter that's scheduled, I switch them.  If I'm really upset, and just feel the need for binging - I pick up the phone and call my mom.  I can't be on the phone with my mom for less than 30 minutes...and 99% of the time, after talking to her - I feel better and it's probably time for me to eat, anyways. 

Junk food is NOT your friend.  Healthy food and exercise can be - you just have to give them a chance.  Building your support network is another step in the right direction.  I am amazed at the new friends I've made building my network - and I wouldn't hesitate to call them if I really needed them.  I know that they wouldn't mind - and they'd help me get through the difficulties I'm facing. 

If you need me, I'm here....evict the junk food - you deserve new friends!!

Till next time.  ;)


  1. I am putting this on the fridge!

  2. GREAT post, JoAnna. My favorite part was the idea to take a walk around the parking lot before heading home. It's so easy to forget to take time for ourselves.


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