Lifestyle Personal

My Struggle with Emotional Eating

// TRIGGER WARNING // 

I will be speaking about issues surrounding weight, body image, food, disordered eating and more. If any of those topics are triggering to you, please don’t continue reading. My intention is NOT to trigger any of my readers but more so share my story.

Hey guys! How are you doing? I hope you’re all doing well. Today I want to have one of those vulnerable chats with you guys. Like I did when I shared my mental health story, or my faith journey. Being vulnerable with you all is really therapeutic for me, and I hope it is for some of you as well. I’m going to talk to you guys about my struggle with food, specifically my struggle with emotional eating. My hope with this post is to share with anyone else that may also be struggling with emotional eating, that they are not alone.

Any type of everyday task that causes a struggle for you, can be very isolating and make you feel out of control. For a long time I felt a lot of shame around my emotional eating because of how essential eating is. I couldn’t understand why the chocolate bar made me feel whole. I already know this is going to be a long post so without further ado lets jump into it all.

My Relationship With Food Growing Up

As I sit here as a 25 year old woman, when I look back on my childhood I realize I shouldn’t have had a problem with my weight. Through society & others around me though, I was made to believe I did. For as long as I can remember I felt like the chubby friend. I grew up on chicken nuggets. My breakfast would be strawberry pop tarts, lunch would usually be cafeteria pizza, and dinner would be what mom made minus the vegetables if there were any.  Now I know this sounds like the typical American childhood when it comes to food, and it is. Only problem is, I never grew out of it. My house is still the house friends will come to when they want to “pig out” or have their cheat day. There is never a moment where my house doesn’t have chocolate or potato chips.

Like I said, I shouldn’t have had an issue with my weight when I look back on myself during those childhood years. I was the normal size for a girl my age, and my height. Last year when I was in therapy I brought up something that really opened my eyes to how deeply rooted my struggle with food and body image are. I was in 7th grade and Hollister was what the cool kids wore. I always struggled to fit in to Hollister jeans. My size ranged from a size 3 or size 5, and as a 12 year old that can make you feel some type of way when your friends are buying a size 0.

One weekend in 7th grade, I was shopping for new jeans. Since I looked about the same size as all my friends I decided to try on a size they picked. Now I don’t know whether I had just had a growth spurt and I slimmed out a little bit or what but, I was able to fit into a pair of size 1 Hollister blue jeans. Those jeans became my absolute favorite, can you guess why? Yep, it was because the number on the inside of those jeans was a 1. That made me feel skinny, which made me feel worthy. It wasn’t until I brought this up in therapy that I realized how long I’ve struggled. However, it wasn’t until years later in my young adulthood that my struggle with eating got worse.

How It Got Worse

I have one word for you, depression. That’s how it got worse. That’s not the whole reason of how it got worse but, it does play a huge roll. During college I was one to eat a lot when I got stressed, which in my junior & senior year was like three times a week. I got use to eating a party size bag of M&Ms all by myself over the course of a week and getting McDonalds three times a week because I didn’t feel like cooking. My eating habits were bad and I could admit that but I thought that would stop once I graduated college. Boy was I wrong.

This is where the depression kicks in. It is known that overeating is a symptom of depression. It’s also known that weight gain is a symptom of depression. Put those two together and you basically have me running in circles on a hamster wheel. When I was alone, I’d eat until I was ready to go to sleep. Eating the chocolate or the chips or the hot pockets would make me feel less sad. However since I ate right before I went to bed, all that food turned to fat and I gained about 100 pounds over the course of a year and a half. This weight gain would lead to comments about my weight from people close to me, which made me feel unsafe. This feeling of judgement & shame would cause me to over indulge late at night when I was alone, it was a vicious cycle.

Emotional Eating

Eating Disorder or Disordered Eating?

For a long time I was trying to figure out what was going on with my eating. Did I just have zero self control? Did I have an eating disorder? Am I just lazy? Is what I’m dealing with something others genuinely struggle with too? Now I am obviously not a doctor so I can’t say for sure but, in my personal opinion I have disordered eating.

According to Dictionary.com an Eating Disorder is defined as “any of various disorders, as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, characterized by severe disturbances in eating habits”. An eating disorder is something that given a number of certain symptoms or characteristic align with criteria determined by the American Psychiatric Association. Where as Disordered Eating doesn’t always meet the criteria for the specific diagnoses. However, you still have a skewed relationship with food.

The reason I categorize myself under disordered eating is because I’ve never experienced symptoms like, starving myself, binging and purging, or strict & vigorous calorie counting. I eat to find comfort which, at times is something we all do. What makes it a problem is, I was never dealing with the root of why I needed the comfort which was my depression.

Getting Help

As I start to bring to post to a close, I wish I could tell you that I have overcome my struggles with emotional eating and that I have a healthy relationship with food. I haven’t and I don’t, but I want to. Getting help is something I have battled with for a while. I have been in therapy where we do speak about my struggles but I believe I need to see a therapist that specializes in food, eating habits, body image, the whole nine yards. I’ve done my research & have one I plan on calling as soon as quarantine is lifted.

Another tactic I’ve been working on is to be mindful when I’m speaking to myself. My negative self talk is never going to get me anywhere, it’s only gonna cause me to go deeper into my hole. That being said, I also have been practicing being more graceful with myself. Meaning, if I do over do it and binge a lot I try to not be too hard on myself. What helps me is reminding myself that God loves me through my struggles. He forgives me for giving into the temptation of food instead of turning to Him.

Know You’re Not Alone

If you struggle with any type of disordered eating or a diagnosed eating disorder, I urge you to get the help you deserve. My hope with this post was that we could start to ditch that shame of our struggles and work through them together. While our struggles feel isolating, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one to struggle with this exact issue.

Know that whatever you’re working through, you are beautiful, you are loved, you are worthy and you are ENOUGH. Thank you for letting me ramble and share my story. Please leave your tips & what has helped you through regardless of your struggle. I would absolutely love to hear from all of you. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. You never know what demons they are battling on the inside. Thanks for stopping by, until next time…..

Be Nice. Be Good.

Mich.x

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Simply Michelle

Hi! I’m Michelle, but you can call me Mich. I’m just your normal 24 year old trying to figure out life and thought I’d share some of my experiences and interests with the world. This blog will cover all things under the sun from makeup favorites to mental health to religion and everything serious or not so serious in between! I want us to build a little community filled with love and support so please leave me comments and hit that follow button on your way out. This blog has a very special place in my heart and feels like a important part of my path in life so I hope you stay a while and check out what it’s like to be Simply Michelle.

Be Nice. Be Good.

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3 Comments

  1. Ah, Mich, this was such a wonderful post. I’ve never suffered from emotional eating but I’ve seen what it does to friends and felt pretty hopeless as to how to help them. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think your point about not being so hard on yourself is spot on. That’s great encouragement. Thank you, Lisa x

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this, I think it’s something that so many people can relate to in one way or another. I have a funny relationship with food when I’m stressed or feeling down. Sometimes I find comfort in it but I often don’t want to eat at all if I’m stressed or something is wrong so I guess the two balance out and I never see a difference in terms of the scales. I hope the therapist you’re planning on talking to can help improve your relationship with food x

  3. Great post and really important for people to read, especially if this is something they’re struggling with. They are FAR from alone. I’ve struggled a lot with disordered eating throughout my life so I can really relate x

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