Emotional Eating

I don’t understand emotional eating.  It doesn’t make sense to me.  I understand when I stress, I will reach for food.  I’ve heard theories saying it’s because I am in full control of what I put in my mouth but feel controlled by the situation causing the stress.  So, eating becomes a form of control over my environment.  I’ve heard it’s because food is a comfort based on happy memories during my childhood surrounding food holidays and so, when stressed or feeling out of control, eating brings back feelings of happiness.

Those theories still don’t make any sense to me.   Unconsciously eating to eradicate feelings of inadequacy, etc.?  Eating didn’t make me feel any better, not ever.  I don’t get stressed and go on a food hunt, looking to relive moments in my life when I was carefree.  I think theorists forget how good food tastes.  The fudge my Grandpa Smith made every Christmas?   My jaw hurts just thinking of it!  There isn’t another fudge in the universe capable of producing the pure pleasure a piece of his fudge melting on your tongue can bring.  And his pizza?  My Mother’s Pennsylvania Dutch Apple pie with slices of extra sharp cheddar cheese?  Freshly spun cotton candy.  A hot cup of Milo made with real milk.  S’mores.  Cherry Ripe.  Fajita burgers.  Lobster bisque.  Cream of Poblano Soup.  Bekah’s spicy chocolate chip cookies.  The list goes on and on.

I Like Food.  Flavors.  Mmmmmmm.

I had a wonderful childhood.   My parents love each other and were devoted parents.  My Dad worked/works hard every day of his life to provide for us kids and my Mom.  My Mom gave everything to make sure us kids had everything we needed.  So, I don’t eat to compensate for a horrible childhood.

I was a healthy size 14 while married to the first, monogamy-challenged husband.  Yes, I could have trimmed and toned a bit but for the most part, I was all good.

I definitely tried to be ugly while I was married to my second husband.   If I could adequately explain the effect sexual abuse had on me….  I kept my hair boy short and my body tree trunk thick.  It never stopped him.  My marriages sucked.  Word of advice to any single mothers reading this?  Don’t ever marry for anything except pure love.  Reach deep into your soul and think hard.  If you don’t think anyone will ever love you because you’re ‘used’?  If you’re struggling to make ends meet and some guy proclaims love and devotion but all you can think about is being a stay-at-home mother and don’t believe you can take care of yourself and your children alone, so you agree to marry him?  Don’t believe any of it.  Wipe away society’s expectations.  Build your OWN expectations.  Decide what YOU want out of life, for you and your children.  And then go for it!  We are stronger, we are worth more, we deserve to be happy deep inside with a mate who gives as much as he receives and more.

Once I was divorced and on my own with four children, life got better but harder.  We’ve lived in seven different homes in the past ten years.  Evicted once (withheld child support because I refused to sign a document giving him one of the girl’s as a tax deduction so I had no way to pay the rent), no credit, no job history for 16 years, only making $9.00 per hour, we lived in a roach-infested, fire-ant friendly two bedroom apartment illegally (I found out having four children, two of each sex, and myself meant we should have a minimum of a three-bedroom apartment but my landlord was ‘nice’ enough to let us live there.  Every day I waited for CPS to come and take my kids.)  I got a better job and a second job and after six months, moved us into a house with three bedrooms, allowing Joshua to graduate from his high school.  He went to college.  Matthew moved to NY to live with his Dad because I was gone 60 to 70 hours per week working and with his ADHD and  Tourette Syndrome diagnosis, I was absent way too much to properly parent him.   I moved the girls and I into a two bedroom apartment.  It was then CPS called.  Did an entire visit; I was completely cleared of any wrong doing.  He grasped at this miniscule straw – I had no house phone.  He did this while I was attempting to get legal permission to leave the state with a promotion into management for the company I worked for.  I had a very nice social worker who actually apologized for having to visit my home.  She understood very clearly it was an attempt to prove me unfit so he could obtain physical custody of my girls.  I bought a throw away phone with a $20 balance, 911 use only, on her recommendation. Looking back, I doubt CPS would have taken the girls for no phone, otherwise they’d have confirmed I had one, but I was scared.  They never did.  I never received a follow-up visit or even a call by CPS again.  As my income increases, so has our quality of living environment.  We’ve gone without living room furniture and/or kitchen furniture on and off for the past ten years.  The girls have slept in dining rooms converted into a ‘bedroom’ by a couple of sheets quite often.  We ate green beans, macaroni and cheese, rice and whatever else KCM provided its domestic abuse clients with.  For years, Christmas was a blessing bestowed upon us by local churches who would ‘adopt’ us, same with school supplies.

We’ve come a long way, baby!

But even during all this, I didn’t gorge on food, growing exponentially with the burden of my responsibilities.  The weight of my emotional baggage during this was enormous!!!  So, no, I don’t get the emotional eating thing.  The only thing making the most sense to me is this:  I open my mouth, I put the food in.  I chew.  I swallow.  I repeat until I have enough inside to maintain the weight I gained while married to my ex-abuser.

I have become very aware of my intake.  I learned how to identify true hunger vs. thirst vs. desire to taste something yummy vs. eating because someone said you have to eat six meals per day vs. someone said you have to start every morning with breakfast vs. someone said you can’t eat sugar vs. someone said you can’t eat fat vs. someone said you can’t eat carbs vs. someone said ….  You get the idea.

I take full responsibility for everything going into my mouth.

If there was an emotional connection?  I’ve unplugged it.

5 Comments

  1. Sharon Donovan said,

    14 August, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    If this journal turns into a book, I will be the first in line to purchase it.

    • TealThumb said,

      15 August, 2011 at 12:56 PM

      I never thought about writing a book about this. Which part of what I write do you feel is book-worthy? Just out of curiosity?

  2. Rebekah Smith said,

    14 August, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    And boy does she look gorgeous in those dresses. I believe pictures should be posted.

  3. Tanya Hushka-Martin said,

    14 August, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    Way to go Donna Lynn. I am very proud of you. Like you I have also blessed childhood. I come from a very long line of great cooks. Meat, potatoes, and bread. Not to mention the wonderful baking that my beloved Grandmothers did. I hear what you are saying about emotional eating. I would unplug it too. In the past 3 years I have lost 75 pounds but in the last year I have gained 35 pounds back. Work stress is a wonderful thing, that and losing a loved one, will mess a person up. Which makes me feel horrible that I have gone backwards. Not sure if I am emotional eating or not caring about portion size or what I put in my mouth. Ice cream is my feel good drug of choice. Blizzards or Ben and Jerry’s. yummy in my tummy. I do know that I have to find some sort of something so I don’t end up back where I started. Which makes me frustrated because I can’t seem to find a program that fits. I also know that part of my problem is that I need to get out and start moving again. But, I hate to exerice. If you have a larger chest you understand why. So I am on a quest to try to find some sort of exerise that I like to do. No such luck yet. Any ideas? What kind of program did you go through? Any helpful hints that you could let me in on? Take care and way to go. Keep it up.

  4. 14 August, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    I’ve never understood the emotional reason for eating, either…..with me it’s always been the lack of self-control. I will lose the weight when I’m in control and put it back on when I lose control….and I put the “lose control” into a category called “I don’t care”. It would usually happen after I’ve lost a good deal of weight and hit that “wall” where I would stop losing. Then I would gain a few pounds and be horrified…then I’d lose them again, but only those few….and then gain….and get disgusted with myself and then I would convince myself that it was too hard and quit altogether….so, how does one overcome the “wall”? Happens to me everytime! 😦 Guess I need to figure that one out, huh?


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