Blog Post

The psychological eater

Last week I wrote about emotional eating; the five trigger categories that make us raid the fridge or paw the bikkie barrel whether we're hungry or not. I also added a downloadable worksheet to help you play along at home.

Today I'm tapping into the psychological category from my own point of view.

You might identify with this too if you feel drawn towards food when you're in pain or overly tired. Perhaps you skip meals and/or rely on coffee to get you through and then get the lightheaded, headache, trembling effects. Or you may feel an overwhelming pull to eat after meals that's not linked to a habit, that gnaws away at you until you give in.

For me, in my old life, I scored a tick on all of these triggers.


I was a binge dieter for years. Many, many years. Most Monday's I'd start a new diet. Unresearched with no science behind it. I'd follow a fad. Or I'd just not eat, instead, choosing coffee. A LOT of coffee. You see, in my mind, depriving myself of food HAD to mean I'd lose weight. Right? I now know how wrong that was. A lot of the energy we burn comes as a result of metabolising food. And we know that we need to fuel ourselves to keep our body functioning correctly.

So as soon as I starved myself, pretty much each and every Monday, by 2pm I had a massive headache, my arms would tremble and I'd feel like I could pass out. The solution, in my mind, was then to gorge myself on something sweet. Like a bag of mixed lollies, or a chocolate bar. Because my body was telling me it needed the sugar. Total B.S.


Back when I was 100kg+ my back delivered me debilitating pain. Of course, this was my diet and lifestyle that contributed. Not only was my body designed to haul around 40kg less than it was, it also couldn't function on the inflammatory foods I was feeding it. Something that did give me short-term relief from my achy body was food. That dopamine high of rewarding myself with a "treat" raised me from the pain and delivered (short-lived) happiness.


I'd never made the connection between feeling tired - like deep into my bones type tired - and the foods I was eating. In my mind it was the hours I worked, the amount of travel I had to do for work. Again, total B.S. When I felt depleted, food was the pick-me-up. Not healthy, nourishing food either. Fast, greasy, nutrient-less "food", because I was too tired to cook. This is the biggest B.S. of all. I was too tired BECAUSE I didn't cook.


The last micro-trigger in this category is after meals. I still catch myself falling back into this at times. Not habit-based or mindless eating. More like once I'd started eating for the day - mid-afternoon, coz, dieting - I wouldn't stop. There was no fuel gauge to tell me I was full. I never felt that. I just kept on eating. And eating. And eating.


So how did I break these psychological chains?

This work was all about replacing these triggers with a re-set. A Crtl-Alt-Del so to speak. I firstly created patterns, like meal times, to take care of the deprivation and fatigue. When I was in pain (which lessened considerably with each kilo I farewelled), rather than eat for temporary relief, I would stretch instead. Even if that meant on the office floor. And one I created designated meal times, both start and finish, after a few days I settled into the routine.

These were the easiest of the 5 trigger categories to break, but they also began to set up some habits that helped to break through the rest.

I'll be back in a few days to continue to share my emotions and triggers and how I worked around them.




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