I have a lot of things that I’m not especially proud about. However, there is particularly one big problem that I want to fix because it’s bad for both my physical and mental health.
This big problem is my stress-eating.
Especially during the final season, my eating habits just crumble. I gravitate towards sweet, oily, savory foods that I know should only be eaten as indulgences, but soon become regulars. It’s a vicious cycle – I surrender to stress eat, then when I come back home for break, I get mad at myself for stress eating from all the weight I gained. And then I try to lose some of the weight while I’m back home, but because I get so easily stressed, I easily gain all that weight back.
However, I realized that when I was stress-eating, I was stress-eating because I was trying to cope with my stress. But I was trying to cope with my stress by eating – and eating too much and eating not well. Other people cope with stress and challenging emotions in different ways. Some through drinking, some through exercising (I wish right?), some through getting cranky and venting their anger at their friends, some through shopping (aka retail therapy). It just happens to me that I cope with stress through food.
It might be because I had so much control over food when I had my eating disorder. During those (miserable and dark) days, I religiously counted every morsel and calories. 1,200 calories to be exact. I exercised every day or else I felt guilty. And when I mean exercise, it was mostly running and cardio as I was worried I would “bulk up.” I had so much control over my food and my exercise.
But once I realized that I couldn’t live like this through a number of events and close family and friends, I suddenly lost all that control. I ate so much. I gained back the weight I lost and then some more. I continually kept on eating because I had restricted my body for so long.
So maybe it’s because of this history and background that when I undergo stress or unwelcome feelings, when I feel like I’ve lost control of my day and my life, I continue to lose control by eating.
But this is bad. And I’m not proud of it.
These days, as I’m studying for SATs (as that is the high school life haha), my mind often times wander and starts craving food. But I stop myself and think:
“Stephanie, what do you really want?”
“I want food.”
“Are you sure? But you’re not hungry…”
“I just want something else to do. Something else other than studying. I’m getting so bored just studying so I want to do something else. And that something else is food.”
That’s the key. It’s not that I want to eat because I’m hungry. I want to eat because currently, at the present, I don’t want to do the thing I’m doing. I want to go away from it. I want to take a little breather, a little break, go away from studying. But guess what? As soon as I’m done eating, studying is going to be still there.
Or sometimes, I want to eat because I’m tired. So when I really need to sleep and relax, I want to eat.
While I haven’t figured out the magical key to stop stress eating, I’ve realized that it’s so important to LISTEN to your body. It takes lots of practice. But when your mind wants to eat, wants to do _____, stop and ask yourself: what do you really want right now?
Your body is your temple. If you don’t listen and respect it, nobody else will.
So what are you hungry for? Comfort? A place to hide? Something enjoyable?
Well you can find this without having to eat food. You can find comfort by hugging a close family or friend and telling them your current mood and thoughts. Need a place to hide? I find that a lot of times when I’m in this situation, I like to listen to my favorite music and take an hour long nap. Just to take a break and a breather from life. Something enjoyable? Go watch some YouTube videos, go hang out with friends, go do what you actually enjoy!
What are you hungry for?