Last night I emotionally ate—I binged on Golden Grams, Reese’s Cups (which I don’t even like), and chocolate milk. It had been a long weekend out-of-town, my husband was leaving for a business trip to Russia for 12 days the next morning (it will be just me and my three girls), and I received word that a partner on a church venture could no longer be my partner (and we were finally working out not only a rhythm, but a friendship). Of themselves, I could have handled each of these things, maybe even a few together without emotionally eating, but it was late in the evening and I had spent hours in the car unsuccessfully entertaining my girls (finally just letting my youngest cry and trying my best to ignore it, which was hard to do because I was sitting right next to her and she kept pulling on my scarf, my sweater, or my hair to get me to pay attention to her).
Anyway, I didn’t even realize I was emotionally eating until I was halfway through my second bowl of Golden Grams. And, I said to myself I think I’m emotionally eating because I am not hungry right now. But I ignored this observation, finished the bowl, and then promptly started on the Reese’s Cups. I felt like I had no defenses or even desire to combat the binging episode. I felt helpless—a feeling that just propelled me to emotionally eat even more. When I finally stopped, I felt so sick that I could only roll into bed and sleep it off.
The next morning, my body was not happy with me and I paid dearly for eating so much sugar in so short a time. In addition to this physical discomfort, I felt ashamed, defeated, and weak. No matter how many times I told myself that it has nothing to do with will power or weakness, it wasn’t ringing true. I was disgusted with my body and proceeded to over-exercise to somehow “redeem” myself from the sin of overeating the night before. All in all I went on a spiral that was only stopped when I started writing this blog post.
WHAT TO DO NOW
So, now I can go back and see what happened—what thoughts, feelings, and choices led me to where I am, and how next time I might be able to interrupt the cycle. Some key points to stop the cycle were (1) when I realized I was emotionally eating, and (2) when I woke up the next morning feeling both physically and emotionally rotten. I think that the junction when I realized I was emotionally eating and still made the choice to keep eating last night, will happen plenty more times in my life, especially at times when my physical and emotional reserves are so depleted.
So, the best place to start—for now— is when I woke up the next morning. I chose to body- bash myself for the previous night and over-exercise rather than mindfully acknowledging what happened and how it made me feel. Next time, the conversation can go something like this: Whoa, I do not feel good. Last night’s binge made me feel sick all the way to this morning. I know I felt so weary, sad, and helpless last night and it caused me to binge. I know that I tend to body bash and over-exercise after such a binge, but I choose not to do those things this time. I choose to take a different path. I choose freedom and empowerment.
If my conversation had gone something like that, using such strong and inspiring words as freedom and empowerment, then I am sure that I would have gone on to have a normal day, maybe even a better day because I had overcome something difficult. I guess we will see what happens next time I emotionally eat, but at least I feel like I have a strong, solid image of what I could say to myself next time (images are a huge key for me and my recovery).