I remember that well.
I learned, at the age of 20 (actually a late starter) to soothe myself with food. At that age I experienced a traumatic event that left me upset, isolated and ashamed and unsure of how to deal with those emotions.
I struggled to come to terms with what had happened to me and I began to blame myself, although it was not my fault.
The details aren’t really important, what is important is how I dealt with it and the impact it had further on. I became a shadow of the former gregarious outgoing girl that I had been and hid away in my flat for months.
You see, rather than deal with the way I was feeling. Rather than talk about it, work through it or get some help. Rather than allow myself to ‘feel’ the emotions I had, I buried them deep with food and alcohol.
My flatmate at the time would drive me to ASDA, where we’d buy filled doughnuts in bags and then I’d take them home and eat the lot straight away, sometimes two bags of them and wash them down with neat spirits until I felt sick but drunk enough to sleep. I did this every night for months until eventually I managed to move forward and eventually move on.
I also moved to a different city and a new life and things changed. But one thing didn’t; when I felt down or sad I’d eat. I’d eat loads of food until I felt sick and disgusted with myself.
Then I’d feel a failure and unhappy and so I’d eat more, developing a downward spiral.
As I became a mum I started to eat in secret, so my kids didn’t see me, shoveling in crisps, biscuits and chocolate rather than dealing with sadness and other emotions.
If you can relate to any of this, then hopefully I can help. To make this better you need to allow yourself to really feel and acknowledge and deal with your emotions. It can be scary at first but eating (or drinking) to cover them up isn’t helping and it does become a spiral.
Hopefully your story isn’t as sad as mine in the beginning but it can end like mine; I no longer eat to cover my emotions. I only eat when I’m hungry (or sometimes if I really fancy what’s on offer) and I’ve learned to deal with my negative emotions.
The first thing to do is acknowledge that you are feeling something.
Once you have acknowledged that you then need to try to give a name to it. It doesn’t matter if you give it the same name that someone else does, it matters that you give it the name that means something to you.
It may be anger, despair, shame, sadness, fear. Anything really. Once you’ve acknowledged that you have a feeling, then you can decide what to do about it and how to soothe it.
At this point, if that still means feeding it, so be it. But you may find that the urge has passed.
If any of this has resonated with you, you might want to have a look at these other blogs (just click on the images below).