What Is Emotional Eating? My Story
Of course, there were times when I felt scared about venturing outside my
familiar ways of thinking about myself. And times when it took me a while to
accept what I learned about what food and being fat meant in my life.
But I kept going. And to my surprise, I discovered that my emotional eating
and my fat were actually choices I had made for myself. Yes, I'd needed
to focus so much of my life on eating. And I'd needed to surround myself
with something (my fat) that would protect me so I could get through life with
less risk -- as I saw it for so long -- of being hurt by others.
What I just said seemed strange to me when I first began to realize it.
After all, why would anyone choose to overeat and become fat? But the
more I learned about what my emotional eating and being fat had been doing to
help me get through the ups and downs of my long life, the more ways I saw to
do those things for myself. At last. Slowly, I found I didn't need the food and
my fat as much as I had before.
Armed with this new understanding, I began uncovering some of the actual
benefits I'd been receiving from binge-eating and getting fat. The more
I worked through my life of emotional eating from this point of view, the more
I realized that the eating and being fat had taken the place of some important
areas of living, areas I'd been unable to deal with in other ways.
I was taking some more small steps toward my goal.
For example, I came to realize that letting emotional-eating cravings steal
my attention and make me fat took up the space in my life that meaningful
relationships with other people, and even with myself, would have occupied. And
slowly I began to want those relationships, and the richer, fuller life they
represented, more than I wanted to eat.
I was on my way.
Now for a surprise, something else I learned that I never would have
It turned out that getting fat so I could "keep going" despite my
fears and anxieties, although not the best way to cope with them, nevertheless
was a way to cope with them, and that -- here's the surprise -- this was
a good thing. It may sound strange at first, but it was true: Through all the
long years of my life, I was actually taking care of myself with my
Now here comes the part that amazes me, the part that still gets me excited
every day: When I realized that my emotional eating had been a way of taking
care of myself -- of course, not the best way, but a way that kept me going
despite a heavy load of uncertainties, fears, and anxieties -- for the first
time ever I could see my life in a positive light instead of as a series
of failures to lose weight and keep it off.