This week I asked myself: Why it is so hard to NOT emotionally eat?
The best way to get out of my head and understand what I am thinking is to do a thought download. I did a TDL this week after work and found a lot of things to discuss with my brain! I found a series of WHY questions helped me understand what my thinking, actions, and results were.
If we do not understand “WHY” we do anything it is inevitable we will lose our sense of direction. Having an answer as to WHY we do anything is our compass. I know why I do my job at work, it is all about my patient and giving them the safest, best experience possible – everything I do at work comes back to this! Why I want to get to a healthy weight is to feel physically and mentally better than I do now. So all my choices need to support my why.
Here is a bit of my discussion with myself:
Everyone has their times of day or situations in life when food is used to sooth, calm, fill, distract, and create meaning RIGHT NOW. For me it is after work every day.
Why is it hard to not emotionally eat when I intellectually know I am not physically hungry?
I have a meal planned but I don’t want it. I have food prepared but I don’t want to eat it. I want “something” else to fill the emotional discomfort inside me because it has always worked that way in the past.
Why is it so hard to ignore the immediate gratification I will get from that bag of chips, jar of peanut butter, half a cake, or entire pizza?
Because my brain remembers how it tastes and doesn’t care how fat it makes my thighs.
Why do my taste buds rule over what my “self” really wants?
Because it can. Because I let it. Because I ignore what I planned ahead of time when I had the size of my thighs under consideration!
Why can’t I stop making the choices that will lead to gaining weight?
Because I choose to avoid feeling my emotional discomfort. I choose to ruminate over what happened at work, how I spoke to someone, how someone spoke to me, what happened with that patient, equipment, doctor, or in traffic on the drive home.
Because I have been choosing the immediate gratification of food in my mouth and not delaying my gratification until my stomach is starting to growl with real hunger signs.
It feels like an epic struggle in my head, the dialogue is adversarial, combative, negative, and overall “feels” really terrible. I want to avoid it and seek comfort in food instead.
But it is just a feeling! There is no epic battle where people are injured or killed. I keep my thinking at a dramatic level because “epic” stimulates a dopamine release in my brain. And my brain wants that “other” food for the glucose spike to generate more dopamine!
Today I made a different choice. I fought the epic nonexistent battle in my head for 15 minutes instead of eating as soon as I got home from work. After 15 minutes the fight was over and I wasn’t injured or killed. Unbelievable! Now I am feeling better!
I waited 15 minutes longer to eat and will eat my planned food. After all, it is delicious and healthy, colorful and aromatic. “But it isn’t cake!” says my primitive brain!
This battle will continue because my brain wants a dopamine hit to combat my stressed out thinking after work. My established habits of soothing or entertaining myself with food are not leaving my brain. But I am now thinking and feeling differently and am building new habits that will take me off this fat generating battlefield more often.
I want to win these battles because I know delaying my gratification will make me feel better, healthier, confident, motivated, successful, in short, only good things! This is what I realize after sitting with my emotional discomfort for only 15 minutes. Next time the battle begins inside my head I will say: “I can wait to eat for 15 minutes, easy!”
I don’t want to “think” I have to battle with my body. I want to live happily with it! I am willing to seek delaying my gratification again and again. Hope springs eternal it will get easier.