Personal discovery: I eat my feelings


I have always loved food.

In particular, I have always loved sweet food.

There was no such thing as too much icing on a cupcake, too many yummy choc chip biccies, or too much chocolate – oh man, there was never too much chocolate.

I have always known this about myself, and I have been okay with it and kept it in check – I am not drowning myself in food or binge eating by any means (except when emotion REALLY strikes), and despite the occasional fitting room meltdown due to my bloated belly not matching the rest of my size 12 frame, or just generally succumbing to wanting to be a size 8, I’ve managed to keep things relatively together.

To accompany my sweets fetish, I have developed a love for the savoury as well – and when I mean savoury, I mean chips – both hot and off the supermarket shelf. And let’s never forget my love of white bread: that baby has been there from the beginning. It has often been said by both me and my family that, if I had too, I could live off vegemite sandwiches.

I am not domestically inclined, I do not like complicated recipes, and pre-FODMAPing I did not have a large variety of baking and cooking ‘staples’ in my pantry ready to whip something up – unless you mean packet cake mix and icing mixture that is, there was plenty of that! It wouldn’t have been harsh to say I didn’t have a far-ranging diet – I ate well in general, but they were simple and basic meals,generally repeated over and over. There was room for improvement yes, but having just turned 30 and realising that it was time to make a change, I was working on it, and I was doing okay.

Then BAM! The IBS that I have had all my life kicked up into another gear at the start of this year, prompting me to actually talk to someone about the scourge I have lived with for as long as I can remember, and get diagnosed.

Enter stage left: the low-FODMAP diet.

Yes it has been hard, but it has been a life changer. For weeks now I haven’t been doubled over with crippling cramps for weeks, I haven’t missed functions or gatherings locked in the bathroom wishing for death, I haven’t felt like I would be sick because I felt so full (despite not having actually eaten a lot) my throat felt like it was choking.

It has been a revelation.

But there has been another revelation along with it. To everyone else that knows me this is probably old news, but to me, I never realised the depth of the connection for me…I am an emotional eater.

I feel like crap? I turn to some cake.

I feel great and want to celebrate? Where is the cake?

No energy? Here have some cake!

Lots of energy? Hey you feel great, you must be doing something right! Have some cake!

Okay, perhaps a bit of over-exaggeration for comic effect there.. but at the crux of it, it is true. Especially when I am down.

I have had some challenging times of late, and these have seen me on a slight (translation: insanely intense and crazy) emotional roller coaster. Also, since turning 30, for some reason my hormones have decided that they have been giving me a (relatively) easy PMS ride up to this point, and that now is the time to make up for it. The result: I am now a raging hormonal emotional mess of biblical proportions every month. And what do raging hormonal emotional messes like? Chocolate. And lots of it. Now. Here. More. Yes, more. Thank you.

So how did I come to this realisation?

Being in the elimination and then re-introduction stages of this diet, I am having to chart everything that I eat, when I eat it, and what symptoms I have. I also have to take notes about things that may be contributing to symptoms (ie stress).

Now it isn’t so much the charting that has made me realise that I eat emotionally – not the physically ‘writing it down’.

It has been more the thought of my dietician reading it, and judging me. And that thought process has made me realise that it is actually ME who is judging me, because my dietician is lovely and supportive, and because I know what I am considering eating at that moment (two of those amazing microwave cakes back to back washed down with a few hundred cups of yummy warm tea anyone?) is just a big emotional bandaid.

So, what to do about it?

I have thought about wide declarations of ‘no more sweets’.

But I don’t think that is the answer.

Perhaps, it is just a more moderate approach that is needed (well, duh).

But to achieve that? I think there is more to add to the mental cycle.

“You can’t eat sweets, you shouldn’t, you don’t need them, you emotional eating mess, it is just a bandaid, what are you doing!?” – that dialogue is not gonna help me AT ALL.

So, instead, I am going to try something different. Writing (after all that is why I started this blog, as an outlet), stretching, reading, planning, whatever. Distraction and comfort elsewhere. That is where I shall start.

Don’t get me wrong – I will still have some biccies with my cuppa for afternoon tea. I will still have some dessert. I like my food and I like my sweets and I will have them dammit. Life is too short to deny yourself small pleasures like a yummy afternoon tea or some cake…as long as you aren’t hurting anyone or yourself, do what will make you happy, that is my motto. But what I won’t be doing, is letting eating be my first port of call to make myself feel better anymore.

Well, that is the goal anyway. Wish me luck!