January 17, 2011

Eating While Under the Influence!

So there I was, Friday afternoon, looking forward to a workout and a happy ending to a happy week when..all of a sudden...hell broke loose in the office. My cortisol was through the roof, my heart rate was in my training zone, I saw red, black, purple, and polka dots, and I was very close to sticking my head in the trash can and blowing big-time chunks (sorry for the graphic description...had to be done). Needless to say, I had a stressful Friday afternoon at work (have I ever mentioned I lean on the side of the dramatic?).

So what did I do? I dropped by the grocery and liquor stores, went home, and held a pity party on my couch in my honor. Not my proudest moment, but there ya have it...the truth....cold and raw. My name is Kathi Cameron, and I am an emotional eater. Have been all my life. The difference between now and then is I rarely have the energy to make a special stop at the store for a box of Fruitloops or KFD (my medications of choice).

Emotional eating is defined (loosely) as eating for other reasons besides hunger. You may be bored, lonely, depressed, angry, sad, fearful, or (insert other emotions here), when you are eating under the influence of emotion...you aren't eating mindfully. You are eating to cope, to mask, to deal with your emotions...(Liquorice? Don't mind if I do...). Sometimes, it just feels good to sit on the couch with a big bag of chips and tune out. Why is that?

Been there....ate that.
So if you are looking to lose a few...how do you deal? Like any other behaviour change, awareness is key. If you are aware of your emotional eating habits, you are more likely to change them. If you suffer through a stressful workday and know you will probably do a "drive-by" to the bakery en route...make a plan to make a bowl of home-made (not microwaved) popcorn instead. Popcorn is a healthy snack, full of fibre, and when made the old-fashioned way, can be a great option (assuming you don't drown it in melted butter..............mmmmm melted butter). Make a plan that replaces the unhealthy option with a healthier one. Or, better yet, uncover your motives and deal with the emotions in a healthy manner (i.e. talk with someone, write it down, and the like).

For those dedicated to losing a few it is very important to keep track of the dirty little details. For example, what emotion are you feeding? Is there a way to deal with the emotion without food? Could you replace the behaviour of eating with another, such as going for a walk or taking a bath? Chances are, there are other (less fattening) options you haven't thought of yet.  Ultimately, the world isn't going to stop rotating if you launch into a tub of ice cream. However, if you make it a habit to "self-medicate" with a big bag of Doritos, you rob yourself of the chance to examine what is really bothering you. In addition, if you are wanting to lose the weight, emotional eating ain't getting you where you want to go. There is a connection between depression and overweight/obesity (I know I'm not tellin' ya anything you don't know...but there you have it). So what should come first? A weight loss plan or counselling session? I'm partial to the counselling myself. Deal with the emotion that drives behaviour....then change the behaviour - of course not so simplistic, but you get the idea.

Understand the motives behind your KFC binge and you will be more aware and (perhaps) more successful at change in the long run. Let's face it, we all know what we "should" be doing. I know I shouldn't stuff my stressed out face with pizza and wine, but to hell with that. Emotion drives our behaviour more than the knowledge of what's "healthy". If you can dig deep and find out what drives your motivation towards a Tim Horton's drive thru and polishing off the order of 20 Timbits before hitting the house (not that I would know anything about that...), the chance of you doing it again will be less.

What I find odd and, I won't lie to you, very frustrating, is the fact that those happy-go-lucky nutritionists you see on TV or in the paper that report on healthy eating behaviour never pay enough attention to the emotional aspects of eating. When, really, this is behind the majority of double-fudge brownie consumption...if knowledge was all you needed, I'd be out of a job.

After saying this, all I want to do right now is crawl on my couch with a plate of fatty goodness, and watch a good movie. What I will do is go to the gym and drive home for a dinner of veggies and other healthy things...I know I will be better for it......still crave the fatty goodness though.

That's all I got.
K

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