I don’t remember when it all really started. Like the exact day or anything, but I do remember the day that I realized I had a problem. I had been eating for emotional comfort for years, like from childhood and dieting to try and fix the weight gain from it, but the day it finally clicked was such an AH HA moment for me that it really set me free. Not immediately, life doesn’t work like that but I had finally gotten to being aware of it. “Woke up” if you will.
I had had an especially rough day. I worked a full-time retail job that I hated. I had a crying baby that I couldn’t console and being a new mom didn’t help. My house was a wreck from baby toys and not having enough energy to clean it properly and nobody around to help and take the load off.
I was utterly and completely overwhelmed by life and after my latest diet not working (because I was hungry from starving myself) and feeling even MORE
worse over my body and not being able to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothing, I remember waking up from my binge in a puddle of tears feeling extremely bloated, beyond stuffed while still shoving chips, cookies, and frozen pizza down my throat.
Eating like this was something that I did often, usually at night after everyone was asleep, just me and the TV with whatever junk I had in the cupboards. But this particular time, my husband was at work, I had worked a super early shift and so I was tired and hungry because I wasn’t eating properly. And so, I started off with some chips thinking I would have some while my pizza cooked because screw it, I had had a donut that day anyway and I wanted pizza damnit! Which turned into eating chips with the pizza that then turned into wanting something sweet.
When I, how I describe it, “snapped out of it” I was horrified. I was so full. Like so sick to my stomach full. I was surrounded by food and wrappers of food that in a wakeful state, I didn’t want to eat. I couldn’t actually believe that I had eaten it all. Like, how the heck could that all fit in my body is what I had thought and why didn’t I stop. I was in pain and I felt ashamed. I called myself fat ass and pointed out all my flaws as usual and then proceeded to quickly clean up the “evidence”.
As I sat there in complete disgust and feeling so hopeless, I said out loud, WAIT!! STOP!! No, No, No.
The room got brighter. My eyes opened wide. I said, this isn’t it. This isn’t how it has to continue. I can figure this out. I don’t have to be at the mercy of food. Food doesn’t have to be the bully, I am and I can figure this out. I knew I wasn’t stupid. I knew I had overcome a lot at this point in my life and that this isn’t how my story was meant to go. I saw clearly that it was a problem but one that I could figure the heck out. I really saw that I was eating when I didn’t want to or need to. I saw that I could have had some chips and maybe a slice of pizza and walked away.
But how do I keep knowing this, having this awareness and not letting it go further into as I call it “autopilot”. I had to “figure it out”.
Figuring It Out
I eventually came to understand the concepts of hunger and with that the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Most of us know when we are hungry and when we need to eat and that’s the end of it all. As my husband says, “It’s a means to an end” but I always need to make a big fuss about it and think of something amazing to eat every time. For many, there is no guessing, no asking yourself if you are hungry and definitely after you eat, there is no immediate “need for something sweet” to round off the meal. It’s just you eating, fulfilling a biological need and you don’t care how. But for me, not so much.
I never paid attention to my body and hunger signals. Most of the time I would get excited if my body was needing more food so quickly because “I get to eat!”. It was a brain involved activity over a basic primal need, and most days right as I would wake up, “What can I eat for breakfast!” type excitement would take over. But most days that was then followed by a, “ugh, I am on a diet so I have to eat whatever boring food there is.”
But It was hardly ever in my life, a real food for fuel need and as I continued to diet, I would just eat when a diet told me to eat (every 2 to 3 hours) or a followed plan that would actually mapped it out for me, like 7 am, 10am etc. I didn’t have to know if I was actually hungry or if I was needing something else. Something else like on an emotional scale, something that either I was not fulfilling or allowing myself to get from others around me. I grew up an only child and didn’t have involved parents, so I didn’t know how to let people into my world well or even ask for what I need because I was told I had no needs.
That made it hard for me to get my non-food needs met. It was tricky but that is how I became well versed in what I call and so many others who suffered from chronic dieting and eating disorders, “self-care”. And once I was able to introduce that into my life, I was able to call myself out and recognize the difference from physical or emotional hunger.
Emotional Hunger VS. Physical Hunger
Do you know the difference? Are you aware that there is one, or maybe you don’t realize that your “troubles with losing weight” aren’t actually in knowing HOW to lose it, but just simply realizing that you aren’t fulfilling your emotional needs like I was.
There are ways to fulfill your own needs without others being to blame because that was a whole other story for me on my journey but know that you can’t control other people at this point and that you and only you are responsible for how you feel. And that is why self-care is important to master. Along with understanding when you need it by knowing the difference between real hunger and something else.
Emotional hunger or eating, is like stress eating. Like me, I had an overwhelming set of experiences that triggered it. I wanted to feel better or I would explode and to not explode I ate. Chemically, the eating gives us a hit of feel good chemicals temporarily but of course that is an illusion and doesn’t take care of the root cause. Like my house was still a mess even after I ate al of that food.
But it is still easy to be tricked into thinking that emotional hunger is physical so it’s good to know the difference and learn how to call it out for yourself before you end up in a spiral out of control. Emotional hunger comes on all of a sudden. It feels urgent and like if I don’t eat now I will die type of feeling. Physical hunger, is more gradual and taken care of by eating anything. Emotional hunger can only be curbed by something specific, like I really want a burger or chips or pizza even.
And unlike physical hunger when you eat it stops and is curbed, emotional hunger isn’t even filled. The “but it tastes good” is a sure sign of emotional hunger, versus the, I am full and ready to stop eating variety. And if you were to connect with yourself and see where the sensations are coming from you would notice physical hunger is coming from the stomach. Unlike emotional which all comes from the head.
And the biggest one to help you recognize the difference is after you eat when you are physically hungry you aren’t beating yourself up. You eat and move on. Emotional hunger ends with you feeling like I was, ashamed or guilty.
How To Go Onward
If you have read all of this and have perhaps realized for yourself that you have an issue with eating and that you aren’t getting the weight loss results you desire because you are caught up in this cycle of emotional hunger like I was, know that there is hope. My 12-week program called Undiet For Life was created to help correct and balance your physical hunger along with your emotional hunger. I designed it to help women like you, lose the weight for the last time by transforming your mindset.
I originally created it to help me and what I found was that with my one on one support, other women also could be transformed. It helps that I know the journey, I understand the pain and more importantly care because I know what it feels like to sit in a puddle of tears stuffing myself and not knowing where the heck to begin.
But just like me, you too can figure it out. Click HERE to start that figuring out process today. And also, understand what your triggers are in order to give you relief right now. What situations, places, or people bring these feelings or desires out more than others? Are they celebrations that have you binging because you want to feel good or is it that when other people don’t do something that triggers this desire. Know yourself. Your patterns and write them down.
And if you need to chat I am always here. I want you to know that you aren’t alone. And this journey can be figured out and turned around. I am living proof of it and I want to help you.
With Nourishing Love,