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I have been suffering depression since last year. Also, I was diagnosed with ADHD,OCPD, and bipolar disorder. Contrary from the past years before pandemic, I was a highly discipline with my diet. But since last year, I have been experiencing emotional/stress eating. Definitely my mind knows what to do but it has been really a struggle to come out from this status. 

I am now alone and gained my independence finally after so many years from my toxic family, I am now focusing on finding job and self-development. But struggle is real.  I have been taking care of my granny for five years. It was very exhausting. Now, her absence in her home makes me feel sad. 

I can rationalize things. But it was really hard to apply what are the corrective actions in my life.

 

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I used to be quite an emotional eater, as I found comfort and love in food.  It didnt judge me or make me feel bad.  It was mostly due to the way my mother treated me.

Over time I've figured this out and work hard to not fall back into that trap as it is self destructive.  I have learned to distract myself from food and to keep health snacks on hand when I fall down.

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I have done emotional eating and emotional nibbling.  Here are some practices/tips that have worked great for me- especially during covid.  I increased my water intake to about 10 glasses a day (one third consumed when I work out, which is daily).  I do not eat between meals unless I am starving.  If I am starving I eat things that I don't nibble on/don't trigger me -a dried fig, some apple slices.  This lessens the focus on food.  I do not have any other beverages including diet soda (which triggers me to nibble/want carbs) - but I'll have a little sparkling water (no sweetener) at night and I have coffee but with only milk, no sugar.  I do eat sweets, junk, all of that -but at or around meal times -I don't just eat all day or "snack"  I also relearned my hunger/fullness cues after a bout with undiagnosed eating disorders 30-40 years ago.  So when I eat meals they're reasonable, reasonable portions, not past the point of fullness.  Hope this helps!

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I'm the opposite.  When I'm upset, anxious or depressed I cannot eat anything.  I have zero appetite.  I had extreme anxiety and some depression due to Covid fear and I went from 135 pounds to 106!  I was so, so skinny.  I looked awful.

But before, when I wanted to lose weight I tricked myself.  I ate something that tasted sweet but was healthy like sugar free yogurt or sugar free jam on whole wheat toast.  Yum. And I baked chicken instead of frying it and added seasonings for flavor.  Yum again!  Fortunately I love vegetables so that's never an issue.  Just don't coat them with cheese sauce!  Roasted asparagus is also YUM and is made delicious with some olive oil and seasonings.

Also, find things to do that you enjoy that don't involve eating.  Whatever it is, make sure you can't sit there and snack while you do it!  Exercise is excellent for this.

Good luck with your healthy eating goals.

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On 3/17/2021 at 12:06 AM, melancholy123 said:

I used to be quite an emotional eater, as I found comfort and love in food.  It didnt judge me or make me feel bad.  It was mostly due to the way my mother treated me.

Over time I've figured this out and work hard to not fall back into that trap as it is self destructive.  I have learned to distract myself from food and to keep health snacks on hand when I fall down.

 

Thanks for the advice.

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On 3/16/2021 at 11:46 AM, amihan said:

 I was diagnosed with ADHD,OCPD, and bipolar disorder. 

Talk to your doctors and therapists about the disorders themselves as well as treatment and medication side effects.

It seems like whatever eating situation there is, is related to these other disorders, so when you address that, you'll address the eating, stress, anxiety, etc.

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  • 1 month later...
On 3/19/2021 at 5:06 PM, Wiseman2 said:

Talk to your doctors and therapists about the disorders themselves as well as treatment and medication side effects.

It seems like whatever eating situation there is, is related to these other disorders, so when you address that, you'll address the eating, stress, anxiety, etc.

Thanks for this advice. It came up to my mind few weeks ago this idea. 

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In the past,  I've eaten emotionally, too.  However, I don't enjoy how I feel shortly after eating something unhealthy or in excessive amounts.  What helps me prevent from eating what I'm not supposed to or eating too much is reminding myself of the consequences such as feeling lethargic, exhausted, pudgy and grouchy.  Also, unhealthy food causes pain and inflammation in my joints for me.  Whenever I eat smart, my aches 'n pains disappear. 

I don't like wearing tight clothing due to weight gain and I refuse to buy large sized apparel.  I lose weight instead. 

I exercise regularly which is a strong motivator to remain on my strict diet.  I don't even cheat because I know how awful I will feel afterwards and for some odd reason, whenever I cave into my cravings, those craved foods don't taste quite as good as I had remembered. 🥴 Funny how that is. 

Since I exercise diligently, I'm certainly not going to ruin my hard work by eating anything off my diet.  Whenever I eat anything off my diet, my workouts are unnecessarily strenuous, fatiguing, horrible and taxed.  There are negative results from not putting proper fuel into my body.  Then when I eat smart all the time, I'm a lean mean machine during and after my workouts.  I like what I see in the mirror and I feel great.

I've been through my fat phases and after losing 35 pounds, I'm never reverting to the way I was.  I don't like my thighs rubbing together as I walk.  To me, that feels uncomfortable.  My clothes fit better, I feel self confident and strong due to smart dieting and my fitness regimen.  It's also a great stress reliever and I can cope with life better.  My interactions with others is smart and very good as well.  Exercise clears the cobwebs out of my brain and I'm able to think with clarity and logic.  If I eat badly and neglect my exercise routine, I feel mentally and physically lousy. 

I have other outlets whenever I need emotional support such as my faith, prayers, hobbies, library book reading, extremely supportive husband, sons and I'm very busy with work and daily household chores.  After all that, often times I don't have time to eat.  

I've observed mainstream society.  Mainstream society is unhealthy and overweight.  I don't want to look like them.  Also, my maternal grandfather had two heart attacks, my maternal uncle is diabetic, my father died of a heart attack at a young age and my mother is pre-diabetic.  It's all so scary for me and I don't want to be next.  Therefore, I'm very self disciplined with my strict diet and exercise regimen.  To me, it's a matter of taking care of my health for my longevity's sake and quality of life.  I certainly do not want to end up like my ancestors nor become just as unhealthy and overweight as the majority of society.  

Whenever I attend my relatives' or in-laws' houses or restaurants, I'm never tempted to eat whatever is off limits on my diet.  I observe other people eating to their heart's content while I eat "safe food" for myself.  I can still enjoy socializing without paying the unpleasant price later.  Nowadays, I look at certain food with disdain.  I know it will make me feel awful plus cause weight gain so it's easy to behave for my sake.

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Like Cherlyn, working out daily -now outside cause of covid- motivates me to eat properly and to hydrate.  I also stopped enjoying feeling too full - or even "full" many years ago.  And since I do like "eating" what I do instead of eat is I drink plain water.  I drink it from a reusable bottle I like and I drink -I treat it as medicine because I drink no matter what - about 11-12 glasses (8oz) of plain water a day. I drink a little unsweetened sparkling water at night, I drink coffee with a little milk no sugar.  I gave up diet soda several years ago.  I whittled it down to less than once or twice a month and in the last few years- nothing -I don't want it either.  

I maintain my weight because I only needed to lose after I gave birth 12 years ago.  I also was slightly overweight in the early 1990s for about 6 months because of a bad birth control pill.  But even though I wasn't overweight, I weigh now 12 pounds less than right before I got pregnant.  And I'm 54.  My sister -almost 60 -and mom -in her 80s -have never been overweight and got thinner as they got older.  My mom never dieted.  She just eats normally and has a good sense of portion control.  At her heaviest -in her 20s-40s - she was not overweight at all. 

Just because people get older or women go through menopause doesn't have to trigger obesity.  Some weight gain -I get it - I do -but obesity -I think with rare exceptions that can be avoided (i.e. absent a medical or thyroid condition).  But I'm not a doc just someone who's been into diet and fitness personally since 1982 -and no I've never been in the field -this is just for me.

But I know I can emotionally eat which is why -for me -I'm very strict about that -I only eat between meals if I'm starving and no nibbling -I'll eat a dried fig or maybe a banana.  Nothing that triggers me to eat too much or more.  I don't do the eating leftovers from my kid's food -I really try to avoid mindless eating because I lost about 5-7 pounds over the last three years just giving up that silly nibbling. Yes, once in awhile I do not toss out the ice cream container that can be scraped for one more spoonful but many times I will force myself to throw into the garbage something that will otherwise, needlessly, go into my body. It's a habit I like.

Oh and yes I eat junk food, and ice cream - but in normal or small portions and mindfully.  Makes a huge difference.  

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In the past, I would do emotional eating.  However, lately, if I'm distressed, I don't have an appetite and push food away.  If anything, I lose weight instead of gain weight.

Even though I drink plenty of water, I don't drink too much water because this becomes a logistical problem.  I don't want to rush to the bathroom all the time and I avoid using public restrooms.  I work full time and remain hydrated.  However,  I don't drink a lot of water.   

I don't get hungry easily.  I'm very busy with working full time, taking care of my family and household and if I have time, I enjoy my hobbies, cooking, down time, reading books and having time for myself. 

I avoid "off limits" food and I'm self disciplined.  I don't even crave "cheat" food at all because I've grown accustomed to my daily diet for years. 

Everyone is different.  Some people either eat emotionally or they're hungry frequently.  I don't get hungry and as mentioned previously, if I'm not feeling well, my appetite decreases significantly as opposed to an increased appetite. 

For me the key to weight loss or maintenance is habits so ingrained that I don't have any temptations to eat whatever I'm not supposed to eat.  It becomes easy so there really isn't any self control or will power.  I simply don't desire eating what other people eat and I prefer my personal choices whether at home, dine out / restaurants or in home social settings. 

I don't even eat other people's prepared food just to be polite.  I always stick to my strict diet with healthy choices whether during holiday time, special occasions, social settings with family and friends, their homes or wherever I am.  Food prep, home made food at home and meal times are predictable and my healthy choices. 

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I totally agree with wiseman about talking to the doctors. There could be more going on than just trying to control your eating.  And the pendulum can also swing in the other direction.  Being too limited and also causing a problem.

I have been an emotional eater.  It's easy to do.  Feel bad?  Have a cookie.  Feel good-- celebrate with cake.  I know for me and probably a lot of people, the relationship with food can be troublesome.  As throughout my life I've been up, I've been down with my weight.  

Over the last year, I've done a better job being more realistic about food, calories, and what I am eating.  I use an app food tracker on my phone.    That helps me be honest with myself about what I am eating and it's not just a mindless free for all.  

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I never made a connection between food and mood.  I never thought "I had a bad day, I'm going to eat something fried/greasy/full of fat/full of sugar and then I'll feel better!"  I love my desserts but that's because I like the way they taste, not because they make me feel better emotionally.  I'm not sure where the connection was made that food would make one's mood improve.

I think it's best to find rewards other than food.  Such as going for a drive to see some pretty scenery, walking through a beautiful garden or along the beach, listening to music or watching an enjoyable film, seeing friends and family, even saving up to buy something fun.

I like to fix up my apartment so my current reward is to buy a plant or a scented candle to spruce up my place.  

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3 hours ago, boltnrun said:

I never made a connection between food and mood.

Likewise, Bolt.  There are actually times when I forget to eat lol. 

And anyhow, I don't particularly like sweet stuff, don't like chocolate, and prefer savoury dishes.

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4 hours ago, boltnrun said:

I never made a connection between food and mood.

Sometimes I want a steak 🥩, but yesterday I had mint chocolate chip ice cream because it was warm out.🍦

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I think those that never made a connection between food and mood, or food as a reward make a great point. 

I definitely did make a connection of food as a reward in the past.  not even knowing I was doing it.  In my case, it was the relationship with food that was the problem. 

But I never recognized that.... I figured it out in a completely random way. I went through some health issues.  When none of the medical tests or doctors were able to pinpoint the cause.  I started an elimination diet, along with many other changes to soaps, products etc... 

That was a big change for me.  And I chose to do it to improve my health.  I think in the long run, it changed my relationship with food.  Because I don't really use food as a treat or a reward.  I try to plan when have something that is higher in calories and then make adjustments to my other meals that day.  

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I definitely have cravings, but not because I feel stressed or upset or depressed.  I'm quite the opposite; if I'm upset or stressed I cannot eat a thing.  That's why when I had my bout with severe anxiety I went from 135 pounds down to 106. But when I crave something it's because that food sounds good, not because I'm trying to improve my mood or erase negative emotions.

And I love food!  I love trying different foods because I believe they will taste good.  And I love to cook.  It's enjoyable and relaxing for me to prepare food.

I do wonder what the best way would be to remove the connection between food and emotions.  CBT, maybe?

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1 hour ago, boltnrun said:

I do wonder what the best way would be to remove the connection between food and emotions.  CBT, maybe?

Good question!  I am not sure.  But maybe replacing the behavior with something more positive?  Like if feeling stressed-- take a walk or call a friend.  Or if you had a really great day, buy a new dress or put $10 in your savings or do something else nice for yourself (depending on your interests). 

I don't want to always say monetary reward, because sometimes that's not an option. I think that's where food can get put in the place of a reward.... it can be inexpensive to just have a candy bar or something.  

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Posted (edited)

I'm the opposite.  Whenever I'm stressed, my appetite decreases significantly.

If life is wonderful, I eat for sustenance instead of eating just to eat.  I don't like how I feel whenever I eat excessively or unhealthily.  I'm sluggish, fatigued and have zero energy not to mention pudgy.  Nowadays, I eat for health and weight maintenance.  In the past, I've lost 35 pounds. 

Try to eat healthy so you will feel better both mentally and physically.  Eat for longevity, too.  My ancestors had heart disease, heart attacks, hypertension and diabetes.  Therefore, I'm extra careful regarding good health maintenance.  Also, incorporate exercise.  I'm not hungry whenever I exercise diligently every week. 

 

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I definitely see a connection between food and stress for me. And it makes sense, when I think about it. Food provides a guaranteed sense of satisfaction when I am in an unsatisfied state of mind. So, I often allow myself that leeway, especially when my stress level is particularly high.

I think my real downfall is using food as a reward. I just love to do that for some reason. Maybe it also has to do with that natural sense of satisfaction that comes with eating.

 

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I don't want to remove the connection.  I love food and I love enjoying food for emotional reasons too -comfort, warmth (yes, emotional warmth comes from that), when I want to celebrate, treat myself.  But in moderation.  But in balance with my health and weight maintenance goals.  And fitness goals.  For me it no longer means overeating, making bad choices, on balance. 

For some people it means binging or eating too much in response to emotions. I've done both to an extent in my life.  I don't anymore.  For many years.  (Haven't binged in probably 35 plus years and when I did not to an extreme I've heard about).  When the pandemic started I doubled down on maintaining a promise I'd made to myself about 1.5 years earlier or so - that I would not nibble mindlessly which was an emotional response -I'd nibble when I made my son's food/snacks/lunches. 

I made myself focus on that goal even more because being home, the pandemic- recipe for disaster, pun intended.  So when I felt those extra, pandemic-related cravings I found substitutes.  Drinking water, reading, even once in awhile throwing away an extra in the garbage instead of putting it in my stomach (I visualize that and have for decades- better in the garbage than in me).   I've gained no weight.  I am thin/underweight and I'm almost 55 and in menopause.   I lost far more weight than I thought I would when I stopped the mindless/stress-related most likely -nibbling some years ago. 

And it's more relaxing for me - it's distracting to be constantly nibbling/putting food in your mouth - this way unless I'm starving I stick to my routine of meals and scheduled snacks -mindful eating.  If starving I have my go to tiny non-carb triggering snacks I will eat that are superfoods.

So yes I love emotions being part of why I choose what I eat - mac and cheese or scrambled eggs if I need comfort, hot coffee and some dark chocolate if I need a treat to get me through a hard work project, etc.  Many more examples.  I would get therapy if emotional eating affected my health badly in any way, or find a way to work on it because I see people with BED and other disorders where it's gone haywire. Just referring to my "emotional eating".  

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38 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

I definitely see a connection between food and stress for me. And it makes sense, when I think about it. Food provides a guaranteed sense of satisfaction when I am in an unsatisfied state of mind. So, I often allow myself that leeway, especially when my stress level is particularly high.

I think my real downfall is using food as a reward. I just love to do that for some reason. Maybe it also has to do with that natural sense of satisfaction that comes with eating.

 

I love food as rewards while also being mindful of moderation and portion control and whether I'm truly hungry.  I'm also comfortable with my son seeing the connection -it's part of a celebration, part of a reward, not all the time and also not overdoing it.  I gave him part of a snack cake my husband and I loved as kids but which is rarely available where we live now.  Not even a whole individual cake.  He was overjoyed -the whole experience -and didn't ask for more -because he also is mindful of his fullness cues.  I've seen him decline or push away parts of desserts because he's full.  Such a healthy mindset and yes he sees food as a reward at times.  There's room for both.

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Amihan,

Just a suggestion: Maybe try a light form of intermittent fasting?  It helped me with my ADD and a lot of other health benefits.  It is called a lifestyle and not a diet for a reason.  Basically, you skip breakfast or dinner and eat heathy foods and a few treats are OK. For anyone who finds disciplined eating hard, it is easier because you can only have plain water during your fasting period. There is no guesswork or special foods. It’s a lot easier than it looks and has so many benefits.  

Not for everyone, but far easier than KETO in my opinion. Once you get what you perceive as your weight issues under control, I feel you will be able to tackle other issues.

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