Tag Archives: overeat

Anxiety vs. Food

If you’ve ever watched The Biggest Loser, seen a weight-loss commercial or an interview of someone who’s lost a significant amount of weight, you’ve probably heard them say, I’m never going to be heavy again!  Personally, I’m too afraid to utter those words.  Rather than test fate, I know that I still have to take things one day at a time.   2012 has taught me many things – mainly, that nothing in life stays the same.  Never before have I been more aware of that than the past few months.

I spent the majority of this weekend working at Patty’s house, removing the last of her belongings and saying goodbye to the one remaining thing that linked me together with her – her home.  I’d been dreading Saturday and Sunday, becoming increasingly agitated as last week drew to a close, but attributed my emotions to a host of other, unimportant things.  With my anxiety building, I found myself wanting to reach for copious amounts of comfort food before the weekend even arrived. 

This time I tried to think ahead and made a plan to busy myself with painting instead of eating.  By the time Thursday arrived I was furiously working in my studio, finishing three watercolors before the day was over (quite a feat for me.)  All three paintings had themes that were specifically chosen to give a calming, zen-like feel.   Here are two of the three that I finished:

 

 

Thursday came and went and I climbed into bed exhausted.  I wish I could report that I didn’t give in to numbing my grief with food, but I’d be lying. 

On Friday, I woke up determined to not only begin, but complete a very tedious art project.  Working solely with cut paper and glue, I pushed myself for over 12 hours until I finished this: 

I regularly post photos of work in progress on my Facebook art page (which you are invited to ‘Like’ if you’re a Facebooker) and I love receiving comments and ideas from people.  On this particular project I had several comments from some very wise people who saw things that I didn’t.  Well, not until it was pointed out to me:  one – she’s a young Patty (who used to wear a red hat every time she went out) and two – she is me.  Two people combined to make a self portrait. 

Well now, that ought to make a good topic for a therapy session, no?

Again, when I was finished I’d hoped that the anxiety I was feeling would be gone and that I could wake up on Saturday and put myself into full work-mode.  The weekend came and went, leaving me feeling completely drained, both emotionally and physically.  I didn’t binge (I didn’t have time), but I did make extremely poor choices and ate without regard to any consequence. 

Today, I’m feeling disappointed in myself; I really wish I’d been able to channel my emotions strictly into my work – to completely lose myself in distraction.  After seven+ years in maintenance, you would think that I’d have worked out this part by now. 

If anything, this experience has shown me that I will most likely always be a work in progress.  Now that the crisis has passed all I can do is pick myself up and try again next time.  Until then I’ll just keep reminding myself that at least I haven’t thrown in the towel.  I’m still fighting to figure things out and hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to say that food and I have a very healthy relationship with one another.

Have a good week, everyone. 

XO,

~E

 

Pinpointing why we overeat.

For me, overeating doesn’t have as much to do with how good the food tastes as it does with how much anxiety I’m having at the time of the binge.   Being anxious and stressed out has a LOT to do with why I crave comfort foods.   I’ve also been doing quite a bit of thinking about the type of overeater I am.  I read somewhere that pinpointing why we overeat is the first step in learning how to manage it better. 

According to Dr. Daniel Amen, MD  there are 5 types of overeaters.  Truthfully, I see a part of me in all of these categories.

  • The Sad Overeater: this type of overeater tends to eat by self-medicating.  Usually the underlying condition is due to depression, boredom, or loneliness. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder fall into this category as well.
      • The Compulsive Overeater:  this type of overeater thinks about food all of the time. It is difficult to change their focus to something else.  Nighttime-eaters fit into this category.  These people tend to overeat and/or gorge during the night.
      • The Impulsive Overeater:  this type of overeater sees food and just takes it without any afterthought.  They intend to eat well, but when they don’t, they use the old saying, ‘I’ll just start my diet tomorrow.’  This type of person usually has problems focusing, being inattentive and is often bored.  People with ADD can fall into this category, according to Dr. Amen.
      • The Anxious Overeater:  this type eats to calm down feelings of anxiety, tension, feelings of being nervous or fear. 
      • The Impulsive-Compulsive Overeater:  this type of person is a combination of the compulsive overeater and the impulsive overeater.  He or she may be disorganized, easily distracted, have a short attention span; also may focus on anxious or depressing thoughts.

These little drops of heaven are truly my kryptonite.

The one that I struggle with these days is Anxious Overeating.  What’s strange is that I morphed into this category; when I began my long, destructive road into morbid obesity I was clearly a Sad Overeater. 

Maybe, as periods in our lives change so then do our eating habits.  The one constant that remains sadly, is the food itself.  We can’t cut food out of our lives, so we have no other choices other than to stay on the same destructive path or make better decisions about what we eat.

Do you agree with this methodology on defining why we overeat? What kind of overeater are you?  What foods are your kryptonite?