anonymous Asks ...
I feel like my eating is getting out of control and I am gaining weight and I am not sure what to do about it. Maybe I need some help?
I am 20. All through high school I did a lot of sports and I never gained weight. When I moved out and started to work 2 years ago I started to slowly gain some weight and then by about a year ago I had gained 15 pounds and I knew that I was no longer one of those people that just didn’t get fat from good genes or whatever. So I started to diet. I kept a food journal and counted calories/limited carbs. It was not too difficult honestly and I lost weight slowly but steadily. Then once I got down to a weight I was feeling good about I decided to ‘maintain’ by eating carefully all week and then eating whatever I wanted to on the weekends.
It started off OK but after a few weeks I was just pigging out so much that I was gaining back all the weight I had lost. So I went back on the diet all the time and things were going Ok until I let loose over Christmas time and I just pigged out and gained even more and I was the heaviest I had ever been. Now I am going like a week or two on the diet and then a few days off where I just pig out and binge and then I feel so disgusted with myself that I start dieting again. Now all I can think about whether I am dieting or pigging out is food all the time. I am heavier than I have ever been and I look terrible and I feel ashamed of myself.
Jill Palmer Says ...
It sounds like the dieting yo-yo has been very frustrating for you and now you understand why diets don't work. We end up feeling deprived and then over eat in response. I think the biggest problem with dieting is we think about food all of the time. We think about what we can eat, what we can't eat, and when we can eat again. Keeping food in our focus is the absolute worst thing to do when we are trying to control what we eat.
But there is hope. I would definitely get some help to get you started in the right direction. Either a therapist to work on emotional eating or a nutritionist to get you on a healthy food lifestyle. I think the key is to eat healthy most of the time for the rest of your life. It can't be a thing you do until you want to maintain. It's forever. When you do choose to eat something unhealthy, eat a small portion of it and appreciate that portion (stick to the size of your palm for a portion size). Enjoy it. Get the emotional enjoyment out of it so you don't feel the need to continue eating unhealthy food. Accept that you need something unhealthy every now and then and indulge when it makes sense.
It also helps to have a shift in attitude. Instead of feeling deprived by saying you can't have something, say you are choosing not to have it now but you can at some other time. It's all about letting yourself know that this isn't punishment or a lack of anything, but rather it's a love for your body and your overall health. Feeling good about yourself is way more satisfying than the few minutes of overeating will give you.
It might also help to keep a food diary for the times you feel like bingeing or eating extra unhealthy. Write down why you are wanting to eat the certain food to assess the emotional state you are in. If you see patterns, then it's easier to find other ways to cope with those emotions.
The goal is to not think about food much. You eat when you are hungry and you stop when you are full. No emotional attachment necessary. It's ok to seek help to get closer in this direction since we live in a society with eating issues.
I hope this helps. Good luck with your journey and I wish you the best.