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HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE LOSS OF FOOD AS AN EMOTIONAL TOOL?



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I realized why I've been so emotional (cranky/sad) lately. While I have not reverted back to disordered eating, I've been dealing with the loss of food as a way to calm myself, numb out, or otherwise cover up uncomfortable emotions. I read helpful blogs, follow Dr. Duc Vuong, and while I want to see a therapist, I just can't afford the extra co-pays right now. (I am saving $ for this,)

Have any of you experienced this?

How do you handle it?

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I definitely have experienced this. At first I found myself substituting shopping for eating (easy to do, having lost so much weight). Then I realized I was doing that and took a step back. Now when I feel that craving (whether for food or to buy something) I stop and ask myself why? What's going on that I am trying to assuage or pacify? Not long ago, I really wanted a cookie and when I stopped to ask myself why, I realized that I had just come out of a meeting that did not go as well as I had hoped. I felt disappointed, embarrassed, upset. And I wanted a cookie. Once I realized what was at the root of my craving, I was able to redirect those feelings. I got a cup of coffee instead. It was warm and sweet and about 200 fewer calories than the cookie. And I took it and went and sat around the backside of the building where it was quiet and peaceful (being an introvert, that was comforting to me). I thought through what had happened and what to do next as I drank my coffee. And 30 minutes later I was good to go. Every situation is different, but I'm getting better at asking myself "What's going on? Why do you want that?"

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51 minutes ago, TheMoxieMama said:

I realized why I've been so emotional (cranky/sad) lately. While I have not reverted back to disordered eating, I've been dealing with the loss of food as a way to calm myself, numb out, or otherwise cover up uncomfortable emotions. I read helpful blogs, follow Dr. Duc Vuong, and while I want to see a therapist, I just can't afford the extra co-pays right now. (I am saving $ for this,)

Have any of you experienced this?

How do you handle it?

Check out Rachel Goodman. I’m doing her program while waiting for surgery. She’s awesome, so much better than the nutritionists I was required to see. She teaches you how to have a better relationship with food.

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8 minutes ago, Jaelzion said:

I definitely have experienced this. At first I found myself substituting shopping for eating (easy to do, having lost so much weight). Then I realized I was doing that and took a step back. Now when I feel that craving (whether for food or to buy something) I stop and ask myself why? What's going on that I am trying to assuage or pacify? Not long ago, I really wanted a cookie and when I stopped to ask myself why, I realized that I had just come out of a meeting that did not go as well as I had hoped. I felt disappointed, embarrassed, upset. And I wanted a cookie. Once I realized what was at the root of my craving, I was able to redirect those feelings. I got a cup of coffee instead. It was warm and sweet and about 200 fewer calories than the cookie. And I took it and went and sat around the backside of the building where it was quiet and peaceful (being an introvert, that was comforting to me). I thought through what had happened and what to do next as I drank my coffee. And 30 minutes later I was good to go. Every situation is different, but I'm getting better at asking myself "What's going on? Why do you want that?"

Jaelzion, I've read a few of your posts and they have always come across as genuine and real. Thank you for being so honest. I can absolutely relate to coming out of a work meeting feeling disappointed, embarrassed, and upset. It's hard not to fall back into familiar ways of dealing with stress. It sounds like your very self-aware and have found effective ways to deal with it.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, TheMoxieMama said:

I realized why I've been so emotional (cranky/sad) lately. While I have not reverted back to disordered eating, I've been dealing with the loss of food as a way to calm myself, numb out, or otherwise cover up uncomfortable emotions. I read helpful blogs, follow Dr. Duc Vuong, and while I want to see a therapist, I just can't afford the extra co-pays right now. (I am saving $ for this,)

Have any of you experienced this?

How do you handle it?

There are income-based, and free counseling services in many communities, check them out.

Distractions. I created a list of distractions for myself, things to do instead of emotional eating.

Mine went:

  • Call mom, friend --to talk about what's bothering me
  • Go for a walk
  • Garden --do some angry raking
  • Play with my snake
  • Watch my favorite movie or TV show, cute animals on YouTube
  • Go to the zoo, bowling, conservatory

Getting out of the house for even a bit works great for me. Studies have also proven that watching kitty and puppy videos lowers stress and improves mood.

Edited by DoodlesMom

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I never really had that issue. food was something I ate when I was hungry. Or bored.

When I get upset I've always read, watched a show to distract myself, played a game, or wrote. I do all that on normal days too... food was never an emotional thing for me. I think that's mostly because when I did the bored eating thing I could eat a whole bag of chips or a whole bag of candy or 6 tacos in one sitting. I was always disgusted with myself afterwards. That's probably why it was never something I did to drown my sorrows, so to speak, because in the end I knew if I did that I'd just feel worse if I did.

Personally, if you're struggling I would suggest maybe you try and find a hobby or something to distract yourself with. It always works for me. Not the best way to deal with your problems, admittedly, but since you can't really see a therapist right now, it's the best advice I can offer. Sorry if it's not much.

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11 hours ago, Jaelzion said:

I definitely have experienced this. At first I found myself substituting shopping for eating (easy to do, having lost so much weight). Then I realized I was doing that and took a step back. Now when I feel that craving (whether for food or to buy something) I stop and ask myself why? What's going on that I am trying to assuage or pacify? Not long ago, I really wanted a cookie and when I stopped to ask myself why, I realized that I had just come out of a meeting that did not go as well as I had hoped. I felt disappointed, embarrassed, upset. And I wanted a cookie. Once I realized what was at the root of my craving, I was able to redirect those feelings. I got a cup of coffee instead. It was warm and sweet and about 200 fewer calories than the cookie. And I took it and went and sat around the backside of the building where it was quiet and peaceful (being an introvert, that was comforting to me). I thought through what had happened and what to do next as I drank my coffee. And 30 minutes later I was good to go. Every situation is different, but I'm getting better at asking myself "What's going on? Why do you want that?"

I've been trying to lose a 10 lb COVID regain and am trying to do more of this, too - asking myself WHY I want something. Sometimes I truly am hungry - but other times it's just because I'm stressed - or bored. I've been working on trying to recognize that and finding alternative ways of dealing with it. It often saves a couple hundred calories a day (and sometimes more!) that I'd otherwise be eating!

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I've definitely found this. I hadn't realised how much I was using food to "self-soothe" until I couldn't have it. I haven't yet found a way to deal with it effectively, other than trying to distract myself by doing other things. It's difficult here - we're in a full lockdown so no visiting family/friends & no trips or holidays, or even going out for a meal/coffee.

But I've now dropped sufficient weight that I need new clothes and I've started selling my better quality clothes (i.e. the stuff I might have bought for a wedding or party and hardly worn) on ebay and am replacing it on ebay with smaller sized items. It's given me a bit of a boost to get into clothes that are at least 3 sizes smaller; it doesn't cost a lot and I'm making what I spend anyway on my sales. It can get a bit addictive though! I've become someone with lots of party/wedding guest dresses and nowhere to go!

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Holy crap, @Jaelzion you just made me feel seen. I just realized reading your reply that I too, have replaced food with (online) shopping.

So I’ve mostly replaced this feeling by loom knitting. I learned how to do it in January (about a week after surgery), and it’s fun. You can watch a video about how to do it on YouTube and you get to the point you could almost do it with your eyes closed. It’s repetitive, but it’s super soothing and relaxing. I’ll grab a skein of yarn and my knitting loom, and get to work.

Now I know that loom knitting isn’t the best option for everyone, but it’s what I found. Maybe find a similar hobby you can enjoy? Even if it’s something like photography. Grab your camera, go on a walk, and take some photos of what you see.

The first time I realized that I couldn’t eat my emotions I cried so hard. I had a complete meltdown. I’ve learned to swap the food for my new hobby. It will be ok. We just need to learn new ways to cope.

I definitely recommend talking to someone. I’ve been in therapy for 8 years because I have OCD and ADHD. It’s a great help. I think someone mentioned cost-free options can be in your city. Maybe hit google and take a look around. Ask people you know. You don’t have to tell them its for you—say you have a friend that needs help. Anyway, best of luck.

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Gotta replace the comfort habit....with a new comfort habit....while avoiding crossover addiction.

Very easy to get in trouble with spending, intimacy addiction, gambling, alcohol, drugs, (obsessive dieting, obsessive exercize, obsessive internet use)

Jaelzion has an awesome comfort habit...coffee, and a little alone time to think/relax/refocus.

I like baths, walks, light funny TV, calling my bestie, playing with my pooch, gardening. I also love a cup of coffee and a sit on the porch.

OP...it's a terrific question and the root of regain. It's a huge part of the work. Thanks for bringing it up.

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For “comfort” eating I’ve also tried to replace that with tea or coffee. Hot beverages are very soothing to me and always have been. I have recently replaced my wardrobe- trying to buy used, and cheaper items on clearance since I’m hopefully just temporarily at this weight. I can see how online shopping could get addictive though, so I’m trying to be mindful about that.

I have made a lot of sales on Poshmark for clothes- if you have “known brand” stuff like Lane Bryant, Torrid, etc you can generally sell stuff there. I like that they take care of postage and everything. I’ve made about $600 in the past few weeks- which I’m slowly chipping away at getting a few new things. Being able to dress nicer for my business casual job is really rewarding.

I’m trying to think of things that are actual hobbies and not just time wasters to take up the space that food used to occupy. Going on hiking trips with my family, home improvement projects, gardening now that it’s getting nicer, knitting, quilting, reading, etc.

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Jaelzeon--Thank you for your thoughtful sharing. You reminded me we can always take a moment, take a breath and make nurturing, self-supportive choices.

DoodlesMom--Thank you for your suggestions. I will look deeper for the free cponseling/groups.

WanderingHeart--Thank you for the Rachel Goodman tip! I signed up for some of her free content & her $9 course. It looks like great stuff so far.

NovaLuna--Thank you for responding and giving suggestions.

I appreciate everyone who took the time to respond.

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Creekimp13---Yes--I've been mindful of avoiding cross addictions. I've only bought lipstick and some new workout wear. And I am not dating for the duration. Lol

Thank you for what you shared.

Blackcatsandbaddecisions-- I appreciate your suggestions. I think I may start doing AM and PM meditation walks. Not just for fitness but to chill out. I've tried to enlist others to do it with me. No luck. Will just do it myself.

And, I think I will return to art-journaling.

Thank you both!

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6 minutes ago, TheMoxieMama said:

And, I think I will return to art-journaling.

Brilliant! Art and writing are my self-soothe refuge of choice. Music, too. Any good flow activities that get me out of my head a little and focused on creating something....are tremendously useful to me.

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On 3/26/2021 at 6:48 PM, TheMoxieMama said:

I realized why I've been so emotional (cranky/sad) lately. While I have not reverted back to disordered eating, I've been dealing with the loss of food as a way to calm myself, numb out, or otherwise cover up uncomfortable emotions. I read helpful blogs, follow Dr. Duc Vuong, and while I want to see a therapist, I just can't afford the extra co-pays right now. (I am saving $ for this,)

Have any of you experienced this?

How do you handle it?

I'm in my pre-op evaluations. I've been REALLY interested to see what people are doing for themselves on the emotional eating front. What is and isn't working post-op. Suggestions, tolls/ideas. This, I think seems like one of the biggest hurdles!

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