Re-evaluating Your Friendship with Food


Originally published at The Buffalo Wellness Center.


I’m an emotional eater. My main trigger is stress, but sadness, fear, and worry have played a large role as well. I turned to food for comfort and support for a very long time. Thinking about it, my earliest memory of emotional binge eating was probably somewhere around the age or 10 or 11. I remember sneaking food like chips, brownies from the pan, or even ice cream directly from the container with a spoon. When I look back on this, I recognize that the food filled a void for whatever was missing at the time. Food became who I needed at the moment. I know this now. I can see it clearly. I am fully aware. That awareness has been key to my understanding, to healing, and to helping me put an end to the behavior. We can’t fix anything if we don’t know it’s broken.


Before I was aware of WHY I emotionally ate, I tried to stop this behavior by beating myself into submission. I would force myself to be on ridiculously restrictive diets, and torture my body with insane workouts…especially when I “messed up”. I allowed myself little joy when it came to food and movement. I never realized how that spilled over into everything else. The diets worked for a while, until they didn’t. Life would happen, and there I was, stuffing my stress or sadness.


I hated myself because of this. I was not patient, kind, or understanding with myself. I said some very mean things to myself, about myself. I kept thinking something was wrong with me. I didn’t know how to stop the cycle. I couldn’t allow certain foods in the house. No snacks, no chocolate, and definitely no ice cream. At times when we had an abundance of these “treats” (any of the major holidays), I would make my husband hide them. Unfortunately, hiding wasn’t enough. If I had a bad day at work I would search for it, and I would find it. I felt out of control with food, like it had a hold on me, and I couldn’t stop. I knew it was there, and I had to have it…especially on a bad day. I felt helpless. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I didn’t know how to shake it.


And then, I decided to get BARE. If you follow me on social media, then you’ve probably heard me talk about the BARE program. BARE is a coaching program and weight loss method that focuses on how to stop dieting, and stop emotional eating. Using this method, I learned how to start loving my body now, at my current weight, and how to treat myself with love and kindness. BARE helps to strip away all the negativity and nonsense we’re taught about how we should look, what we should eat, how we should feel, and so on. BARE also helped me understand my relationship with food. Turns out I was using food as pleasure, as support, and as comfort. Food was the friend who didn’t judge, who didn’t talk back, who didn’t question, who didn’t neglect. Wow.


I started to take a closer look at my behavior. I started journaling. I became the watcher of my thoughts, and actions. I started to see a pattern. I could see that I was running to the pantry when something went awry. I noticed that I was reaching for food when I wasn’t hungry. I learned how to listen to my body, and to know when it was hungry. I started getting curious. I began to ask questions. Am I hungry? Why do I want this? What do I need right now? Does Hershey have the answer? I noticed all of the answers pointed to an emotion.