eat, move, think, feel

Emotional Eating in Slow-Mo March 14, 2010

Filed under: emotions,food,Mindful Eating,overeating — Susan @ 6:51 pm

I had an Incident yesterday. I didn’t want to write about it, but my dear friend Shannon urged me to go ahead and blog it because it would help other people somehow. Okaaaaay. Deep breath.

So this is what happened. I really feel like it was one of those slow-motion train wrecks, you know? Where it slows way way way down but still it doesn’t stop. I had so many opportunities to stop it. But I didn’t.

I was in a grocery store. I got a phone call that upset me. It made me really sad. Like deep sad. And I just didn’t want to feel that way. I grabbed a package of shortbread cookies. I actually examined it and determined that each cookie is 100 calories. So, I figured, the whole box would be 800. Wow. I mean wow. I just tucked that little tidbit of information away.

I put the box in the cart and at the last minute, I ALMOST stashed it in the magazine rack before paying. That was out #1. Didn’t take it. Then I thought, I can put it in the trunk with the rest of the groceries. Nope, I took it out of the bag and sat it beside me on the passenger seat of the car. Out #2. THEN I actually sat for a minute and thought, I can Tweet someone. I can call someone. I can DM someone. Β Someone will talk me down.

Then I realized, that I did not want anyone to talk me down. I wanted the cookies. Did I really believe that they would make me feel better? Less sad? I don’t know. Not really. But there was something ELSE that believed that it would help, and in that moment, just a teeny bit of pleasure for five minutes felt like it would be a little relief from the overwhelming sadness.

I didn’t call anyone. I ate the cookies. It took about five minutes, yup. They were sort of delicious but also laced with sadness and a feeling of WOW am I really in this place?

When they were gone, I took stock. It was actually a weird kind of experiment. I felt like part of me was standing over myself with a white lab coat and a clipboard, saying, “Well? Do you feel better now?”

You all know the answer to that. No, I did not feel better. All the sad feelings rushed back in. PLUS I had just eaten 800 calories of cookies. But I also did not feel the familiar self loathing of binges past. I just felt a weary kind of disappointment. Because I had pretty much been conscious through the whole episode. It wasn’t like I woke up with crumbs on my pillow. I knew what I was doing. I think I just wanted to SEE, you know? I wanted to see if it actually would help.

I think I can refer back to this post if I feel that temptation again. A reminder. It actually doesn’t help.

(in other, better news, I did my longest run (7.5 miles!) ever this morning and my Runkeeper said I burned – guess what? 800 calories.)



22 Responses to “Emotional Eating in Slow-Mo”

  1. Shannon Says:

    I am soooo glad you posted this for YOU! I think you need to see it in writing in front of you and yes refer back to it when needed.
    I really believe that 90% of over weight people are emotional eaters. It is a battle but what you did Susan was stop. The box of cookies did not turn into an all day binge. Take a deep breath and be proud of that fact. What would have been different for you before you started your weight loss journey? How much more would you have eaten?
    Do you see? Even though you had a little moment you regained control. Life is going to happen and we will all slip up a bit. It is all in recognizing it and making changes to head it off next time. You are normal and I have to be honest if I had your current stress load…umm I would hit an all you can eat buffet!πŸ˜‰
    Love ya and I am so excited about your 12kπŸ™‚

    • Shannon, it’s true that what happened is SO VERY different than what would have happened “before.” It would have probably gone on for days or weeks, escalating. So this IS very different and it was a valuable lesson. Thanks for reminding me.

  2. I have done this a few (more than a few) times. The thinking-about-putting-it-back part. The looking-at-the-calories-per-serving-and-calculating-how-much-the-whole-bag/package/box-would-equal part. And the maybe-I’ll-reach-out-to-a-friend part. And the conscious-of-chewing-and-swallowing part. It’s all very deliberate, isn’t it?

    I’m really glad you didn’t beat yourself up over it and that’s a REALLY big part of this. It’s all a bunch of steps that lead us, not to perfection, but to awareness and better-than-before-ness.

    Hang in there. Oh and good going on your run!!

    • ohhh, thank you Karen (for sharing that). I think the interesting thing is I don’t really feel like beating myself up, which IS a change in the right direction. I’m just feeling like, huh, that was… interesting. And disappointing. And weird.

      But I did learn something.

      AND I’m pretty psyched about that run.

  3. Honesty is our best friend. You were not just being honest with us, you are being honest with yourself in writing this post. It’s hard to admit our demons and what we perceive as short-comings, but you did it. You admit that the cookies did not help; just remember this in the future. I hope your sadness fades. Keep up the amazing job on the running.πŸ™‚

  4. June Says:

    loved this. And wow, I didn’t know running used that many calories. Again, very impressed. And I am sorry for the sad thing – very. But it was a reminder to me that when my girl gets upset, not to offer her food as a consolation so she doesn’t associate that way. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. terrepruitt Says:

    Balance. πŸ™‚

  6. natalee Says:

    Good for you for owning this episode and blogging about it too! you are so not alone in this type of eating. We can manage the episdoes though . I had that happen 3 weeks ago by eating 3 donuts (i have not had 3 donuts in like 2 years)and I ate them in my car due to anxious nervous energy. But none of it made me feel good. In fact during the episode it reminded of how I used to eat like that 129 pounds ago and it made me sad. I am not that peson any more but she came back during that episode as a reminder of how easy it could be to go back–and it was scary. I was like YUCK. I have had enough. You are such a help to others! That should make you feel good! I love your blog. lastly…..What would you tell your WW member if they were in your shoes? OMM yourself. I do it all the time. Its annoying but it works like a charm. Be Well

    • Natalee, thanks so much for this. I do feel like this was a major learning experience for me. And what would I tell a WW member? I would say, right now is the opportunity for a fresh start. (not even tomorrow, but NOW) and to practice compassion.
      I use OMM on myself all the time – especially when I am running. Can I get to the next mile? Will I? YES.

      It’s so great having you as a reader!!

  7. Mary Going Says:

    THANKS for posting, for sharing! I engage in this behavior all too frequently, and don’t yet feel in a place where it’s an exception. It’s more like a stereo without volume control: On or Off. There are certainly those with higher “stuck” volumes, but I am not fond of the out-of-control feeling.

    Love the image of yourself with the clipboard.

    Nothing profound here. Just piping in.

    – mary

  8. Thank you for sharing that! Your friend was right about sharing that. So many of us go through that. I know I’ve had that temptation and failed because some part of you think it will actually help. You shared your heart. It helped meπŸ™‚

  9. bethany Says:


    i like to think of myself as a scientist… i often need to do my own research in order to believe what others tell me. sometimes i need to do this research several times for when i don’t believe my own findings!! sounds like you were out there being a scientist. good for you! and look what you learned!!
    love you darling. thanks for putting this out there, and reminding me that i am not alone!!

  10. Shelley B Says:

    Thank you for sharing this – no matter that we’ve been successful in losing the weight, there are still such emotions attached to food that it means we have to stay vigilant…and that is hard to do all the time. Love that your long run offset the calories; love that you regrouped from that one box of cookies. Hope whatever news set you off is better, as well.

  11. Tilly Says:

    I just NOW had a minor episode of comfort (?) eating and then fired up the computer and read this. Coincidence? Hmmm. I’m starting to think there ain’t no such thang! Thanks very much for your endlessly timely post. Now I’ll go enter everything in my Tracker. There are plenty of *points* in pretending it didn’t happen!

  12. shailub Says:

    hi Foodie! it’s Kit-N-Kumari…. I’ve been off the blog circuit for a while, but returned to find this wonderful post on your site.

    Seems like the hardest thing is finding something to take the space that food used to fill… Geneen Roth (I think it was her) said that that focusing on food/weight loss allows us to distrat ourselves from the pain of our real lives… and we can obsess about eating/losing weight instead of managing our pain.

    i’ve started blogging elsewhere (

    Thanks for the ongoing inspiration!

  13. Quix Says:

    This is so very important to remember! Good work on staying conscious! At least it only cost you one (awesome) run!

  14. Mindy Says:

    Are you my sister? Seriously, I have done that same thing countless times and what you captured in your post was the thought process behind that action – perfect. The arguing with yourself, the chances to correct that you didn’t take. Been there, done that, have an XL t-shirt to show for it.
    Thanks, Susan.

  15. lolasphat Says:

    this is a big area for me. i have so many memories growing up comforting myself with food. i have to find a suitable diversion.

    and i hope you’re not as sad anymore.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s