Conquering Emotional Eating

I am an emotional eater.

There is no getting around this fact. If I have had a good day, I think to myself “Treat yo’ self, you need a milkshake.” If I have a bad day, I thin “Treat yo’ self, a milkshake will make it better.” If I have had an average day, I think ” Treat yo’ self, a milkshake is carpe diem!”

You see the pattern.

I also love carbs and sugar to the point that it is obscene. Junk food is my jam. If faced with the choice between a score 10 Japanese Kobe Filet topped with bone marrow and foie gras compound butter with a side of silky crème brulee from the worlds top rated Michelin rated restaurant and a chili dog with a side of Rotel Velveeta Cheese Dip with Ranch Flavored Lays Ruffles and a gallon of Blue Bell Great Divide Ice cream…Guess which one I am picking? Chili Dog. E’er. Single. Day.

This admittedly creates a problem around my thighs.

I spent the first 23 years of my life eating whatever the **** I felt like. Garbage in, maintained 105lbs frame. It was amazing. I drank cheap beer and Dr Pepper and ate corn dogs out of a gas station all across this great nation. Then one day I woke up, and my metabolism broke.

I have spent the last seven years in a yo-yo cycle of binge eat and starve to death patterns of fad dieting and sneaking Little Debbies. I have decided there is no more potent aggravator of weight gain than falling in love. In fact in the years following my divorce, I had no problem maintaining a healthy, athletic weight. I took to a treadmill and a no carb diet because it gave me something to talk about because it is uber fashionable to hate carbohydrates. My little brother hypothesizes that you could rob a bank these days with a loaf of bread, I tend to agree.

But then the love bug showed up, and suddenly who had two hands full of cupcakes and a boyfriend? Me. Guess whose pants don’t fit anymore. Mine.

So I have begun the cycle of trying to reduce calories and junk food and get back into my wardrobe. I took to the internet to try and find motivation for helping break what I can accurately identify as a sugar addiction. I prowled Pinterest and blogs and websites and I kept getting the same shitty advice written by 110lbs vegan Victoria Secret Models: just stop eating.

I don’t think they have ever encountered the 3pm crash where I would sell the soul of my first born child for a Hershey bar.

I know I am not alone in sugar and carb binging as a result of emotional eating tendencies. So I thought I would craft my own tips for conquering the siren call of sugar:

1.) Cold turkey is for psychopaths.

If I have four solid days to rage in a padded cell I can do cold turkey, but if you have to interact with humanity I don’t recommend this approach. It hurts. Mentally, emotionally and physically it hurts. I get a terrible headache by noon, by 3pm I need a nap and generally as soon as it gets dark I am nosing my way through the kitchen after sugar like a blood hound on a trail.

Don’t put yourself through the misery.

2.) Clean out the fridge, the pantry, and the hidden Snickers in the sock drawer.

Get rid of the junk food. This doesn’t mean you have to eat it, as I am guilty of polishing off the bag of chips that I just can’t waste. But the best advice I can give is to not have temptation sitting on the shelves.

3.) Figure out your patterns and your triggers.

For me: I crave Dr Pepper in the morning. I don’t like coffee and I love the feel of a bubbly, cold canned Dr Pepper. I hit a wall at 3 in the afternoon where a little sugar is the pick me up I crave instead of a nap. Then after dinner I get to hankering for sugar as the welcome friend to a long day.

I find it helpful in the weaning phases to start curbing how much I consume. Instead of going cold turkey, I switch to sweet tea. Then to unsweet tea in the morning. Morning solved.

In the afternoon I bought a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream pies. I eat one. Then half. Then replace it with strawberries or bananas and peanut butter. The snack is conquered. By reducing consumption but not going cold turkey, I can wean off of it and not experience the awful withdrawal symptoms. I also feel like I have some control of the world I am living in that way. Having ” a say” in what I eat helps me feel empowered and make better choices than just following an arbitrary “eat more kale” approach.

4.) Carbs beget more carbs.

The more processed carbs I eat, the less likely I am to continue on a successful diet plan. I have an impaired insulin response to blood glucose and eating carbs biologically make me more hungry. In reality, the same is probably true for most people. When your sugar spikes then crashes, your brain tells your to reach for more and more and more.

I am pro-potato. I am pro-whole grains like rice. But for me it is important to regulate the amount of bread I eat because it tends to make me hungrier. Pasta makes me hungrier too. I can out eat any man on a spaghetti buffet. So for me, it has been important to learn what not to eat.

5.) Give it time and set small goals.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and the habits you have formed will take time to break. My most unsuccessful dieting ventures have been when I made abrupt holistic changes I couldn’t maintain. You are a person with a real life, not an A-List celebrity with a chef and a trainer. Set small goals, and don’t get discouraged when you fail. Diets can start everyday of the week, at any meal. For me the mindset that works best is: Every meal counts. If at breakfast I end up with a piece of pizza and 20oz of Pepsi, then I still need to try and eat a salad without dressing at lunch. If I sneak a pint of ice cream for dinner on a Wednesday, I can’t continue to eat like a bear until Monday thinking the calories don’t count.

6.) There is no magic pill, shake or diet.

There is no quick fix. This is chemistry and biology and it cannot be manipulated. 3500 calories equal one lbs. To lose a lbs, you have to cut out 3500 calories from your life. There are things that help incredibly though:

  • Drink water. The more water I drink the less I crave junk food. Learning to recognize when your body is thirsty instead of hungry is a huge win.
  • Don’t eat when you are bored. Buy three apples. If you are starving but not hungry enough to eat an apple: you are just bored.
  • Watch your supplements. Supplemental shakes and smoothies are full of extra calories. I recommend a sugar, carb free whey protein powder that you can mix with milk or water as a meal replacer. It taste like chocolate milk and isn’t awful.
  • Steel cut oatmeal is a girls best friend. It taste like shit. Eat it with water, no sugar and with each bite watch yourself break the cycle of eating because it taste good or expecting food to taste good. It really helps with the “food as fuel” mentality when you want to get serious about a totally clean diet.

7.) Exercise helps, but you can’t outrun your fork.

For me, exercise is a critical component of a weight loss program. Not because I am going to lose weight in the gym and keep my white trash dieting habits. But because hitting the gym has these affects:

  • A good thirty minute workout is mood boosting. (Read about endorphins.) It is a positive reinforcement of your trying to stay committed to a lifestyle change.
  • A good workout increases your metabolism in the short term following the exercise, and building muscle increases your metabolism in the long run. Short answer: build muscle=you can eat more.
  • When you start paying attention to how long it takes to burn calories, you think twice about that 240 calorie cupcake sitting in the break room  because of the time and effort it takes to burn it off.


8.) The last bit of advice: Focus on your own journey.

I can gain 30lbs in one month. I have seen me do it. I can also lose it in a couple months too. It may take you longer. That’s okay. Don’t get discouraged by the other skinny self-promoting ass hats you meet along the way. I suggest throwing away your scale and focusing on how you feel and how your clothes fit. Don’t buy clothes that are too small hoping they will fit soon. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Take it one day at a time and focus on making each meal its own victory.

PS: Always plan a little cheat to look forward to during the week, and if it’s been a shit day don’t feel bad about getting a milk shake. Life is short.


The Meat Lady