Monday, April 12, 2021

Why Did No One Ever Tell Me This About Emotional Eating? #BingeEating #EatingTriggers #EmotionalEating #Music #HowToStopEmotionalEating


Not a lot of people know this, but I'm an emotional eater. There! I've said it. I've struggled with emotional eating for more years than I care to consider. In fact, I've battled one eating disorder or another since my teens. 

Anorexia as a teen--not because I was in any way trying to diet. It definitely wasn't about weight, but about having some semblance of control of a small part of my life at a time when other people were in full control. At the time, not eating was a way to tell someone very close to me (whom I loved and trusted): you've hurt me deeply and I don't love you anymore. The simplest way I was able to convey this message, was to not eat the food prepared for me by this person. Just in case anyone might think I'm speaking of my mum, I am not. I love my mum, she's my best friend. Nor am I speaking of my Dad--just to clarify.

Anyway, years later, after overcoming anorexia, I ended up slipping into bulimia. Having a couple of children and not pinging back after the second one--on account of all the sugary junk food I craved whilst carrying him!--led to crash dieting and failing to control my weight as I fell into a yo-yo existence. That's when I got the lightbulb idea to just throw up after I eat. I know, so sad. Thankfully, I was able to move past this stage relatively quickly. 

Soon, mild binge eating became the next phase. Thank Father, I never had to deal with obesity. But I did have to constantly battle the urge to raid the junk's cupboard whenever I was feeling stressed or emotionally out of sorts. Okay, who am I kidding? I never battled the urge, I always submitted and ran to the junk. 

The crunch came when I discovered a lump under my arm and decided to take control of my health. I started a journey of periodic water fasting until the lump reduced. I got tested and the tests came back negative for cancer--thank You, Father! But this brought home the importance of focusing on my health. I found the Low Carb High Fat lifestyle, which I loved at the time and blogged about. It didn't take too long to realise it really wasn't for me. I've never been a fan of meat and, at various points over the years, I've been vegan or vegetarian. Since I wasn't in love with all the meat during LCHF, and I'd started to feel quite poorly, I decided to go back to my roots and become a plant-based vegan again.

That was the plan, and while plant-based vegan is amazing, I still struggled with emotional eating. I was under the illusion that once I went plant-based, it would solve all of the challenges I have surrounding emotional eating. I'm here to tell you, it did not!  

You can see what's coming, can't you? Yes, vegan junk food soon became my good friend. 


I discovered something incredible. 

Situations that would send me to the junk's cupboard are obvious disappointments like publishing rejections--if you're an author, I know you feel my pain. But the biggest struggle I have is pent-up creativity. I don't know how to explain it, and maybe you've experienced this as well. It feels like I have a ton of energy lock inside me but am unable to release it. When I'm writing, that energy flows and I'm euphoric. But when I'm in the dumps about a publishing disappointment/rejection, or suffering debilitating self-doubt, I stop writing. Then the trapped creative energy builds and before I realise it, I'm raiding the junk's cupboard.

So what happened to change this?

Well, here's the incredible discovery I mentioned earlier.

When our youngest went off to uni last year, she left her guitar behind. I've always loved the Saxophone and have thought about learning to play on and off for a couple of years. Recently, I had the urge to finally take the plunge and learn the instrument, but...I also knew hubs would not be impressed if I went out and purchased such an expensive instrument when we both know I have no staying power when it comes to music, (there's a keyboard point-of-reference in my past) so I knew I'd have to prove I could stick to learning a musical instrument before I hit him with the Sax thing.

Since the only instrument at my disposal was our daughter's guitar, I decided to learn that. It's not as hard as I thought, and I'm enjoying learning, but the amazing revelation for me is that learning to play the guitar has given me that amazing high I get from writing.

This is mind-blowing to me. Why did no one ever tell me that learning a musical instrument not only creates new neural connections and networks in the brain, it also releases all that pent-up creative energy that made me emotionally eat? 

I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have made this discovery. Now, if I'm feeling stuck/blocked while writing, I pick up the guitar instead of heading for the junk. 

Dare I say it? Have I finally stumbled upon the elusive answer I've been praying and searching for? Have I discovered how to conquer emotional eating at last? I guess time will tell... 

I only know that I'm now excited about trying all the hobbies I've always wanted to take up but never did. Next stop, the saxophone, then perhaps horse riding.

I hope this post helps someone who might be struggling with emotional/stress eating. I've spent years researching how to recover from emotional eating and not one article ever said: you just need to find another outlet for your creativity! How about learning to play a musical instrument?

Maybe... just maybe... I've found the answer to the question of how to stop emotional eating--for some of us, at least.

Do you struggle with emotional eating? Have you discovered a way to overcome it? I'd love to hear your comments on this subject.