Hungry For Comfort

My struggle with emotional eating has not been an easy one to conquer. You see, it all began in my childhood. The fight to meet everyone else’s expectations became too much for me. I was already dealing with the wounds of being overweight and the insecurities of not measuring up to my peers. The added pressure of wanting others to like me became too much. I longed to be good enough. I longed to be affirmed for who I was and treated with respect, even though I was different from others my age.

Food became my friend.

Anytime life got to be more than I could bear, I would reach for the comfort of food. Whether sweet, salty, soft, hot, or cold, it didn’t matter. I found comfort knowing food was available to me when I wanted it. It got to the point where I would eat even when I wasn’t hungry. Of course this isn’t an addiction that can be hidden easily when you are already dealing with low metabolism. My waistline became my giveaway. Then to top it off, I was hospitalized in the seventh grade because of constant headaches. After a series of tests, the doctor diagnosed me with high blood pressure. Needless to say, I had to go on a strict diet to lower my sodium levels. It worked for a while, but because I never realized how deeply rooted my problem was, it didn’t take long for the problem to show up again. This time it was in healthier foods or simple things like bubble gum or eating a bag of sunflower seeds in one sitting.

As I got older, I realized that I had an unhealthy attachment to food. At my heaviest weight, pretty close to 200 pounds, I began to educate myself on what I needed to do differently. I had to come face to face with the fact that I was addicted to food, mainly sugary foods.

I had to come face to face with the fact that I was addicted to food.

This was not an easy realization for me. I was always the one who was supposed to have it all together. I was always the one helping others with their problems, and here I was secretly struggling. The more I dealt with a series of health issues related to my eating habits, the more I knew something had to change. That change wasn’t easy to make. I began to make better choices for a while, but when things got too much for me, I fell right back into the same patterns.

One day within the last two years, I realized I had enough of going around in circles with this issue and I decided to make some positive changes. I knew I had to find new coping skills to deal with the way I handled stress. This was the real issue. All the other changes I made were just dealing with the eating habits, but when I changed how I coped with stress, I began to see real progress.

One of those changes was journaling. Whenever I have a rough day now, I try to journal how I feel. I put on paper all the negative emotions that surround my heart and cause me to feel overwhelmed. I also began walking or doing other forms of relaxation techniques to let go of the stress of my day. One very important lesson I learned over the years is that I am not responsible for anyone else’s behavior or their attitude about me. I am only responsible for me. This was a huge weight off my shoulders.

I will admit, I still have my moments, but every day gets better. The struggle to maintain healthy coping mechanisms is not as huge as it once was. If I do fall back, I simply take a moment to get myself back on track. The time between incidents are not as close together now. I am making gains every day.

I have been fortunate that dealing with my comfort eating did not lead to anorexia or bulimia. I know many have not been that fortunate. If you are facing this issue today, I implore you to reach out and speak with someone on our team. Leave your email address below, and we'll contact you. There is always hope.