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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 predicted:

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 emotional eating!

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.

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