I can’t tell you how many times this would happen during my four years as the primary caregiver for my brother: We would spend hours on the phone a few times each week. When we were done, he would say, “I feel so much better having talked this through.” And me? I’d head straight for the kitchen to ease my emotions with food.
I gained 40 pounds during those years. And after I lost my brother to suicide, it took me a while to even realize that I had gained so much weight. But I finally decided to own my emotional eating, and to deal with my lifelong complicated relationship with food.
I tried a million things, and lots of people in my life gave me advice. Eat less, exercise more, you are what you eat – all the mantras we hear all the time. But for me, nothing worked until I joined Weight Watchers and discovered that a change in lifestyle was the key. They taught me how to change my choices and habits regarding food, and to be mindful of what I eat.
Now, I ask myself these questions:
WHY am I eating right now? Am I really hungry or am I eating just because something happened to me?
WHEN was the last time I drank some water? Maybe my body is dehydrated, not hungry.
WHAT have I eaten today? I try to eat only when I’m truly hungry, and to have something with protein every three hours.
WHERE am I eating? I’ve always eaten a lot in my car, so every time I would get in the car, my body would tell me I was “hungry.”
Those are some of the things that have helped me. For more practical, easy, mindful tools that may help you have a more peaceful, healthy relationship with food, check out this website from Dr. Susan Albers, a Cleveland Clinic psychologist and bestselling author on mindful eating.
Becoming more mindful about my emotional eating not only helped me lose almost 50 pounds, it also made me realize that – I matter.
And you matter, too.