Saturday, 18 June 2011

Comfort Eaters Anonymous

I'm being a bit naughty as I should be interview prepping right now, but after a three course meal for lunch and half a bottle of wine I'm feeling a teeny bit sleepy and lazy. Plus I've been trying to work out how to create and add my photo to this blog - hard work you know and very important stuff!

Anyways, I'm also feeling a bit sleepy as I woke up at 7 am today - on a Saturday, not good. The reason being was because I had absolutely awful cramp in my left calf muscle. This displeases me for many reasons, not just for waking me up and causing me pain, but primarily because I know it's a sign I've put on weight again and am eating too much crap.

A couple of years back something in me switched and I decided I was fat and I was the fat girl of my group and I didn't like it. Now at the time if I looked at photos of me I thought I looked okay and if you ask any family or friends they didn't particularly think I was this huge Shrek-like monster, BUT if I look back at old pictures now...OMG was I big...We're not talking 20-stone or ready to be a contestant on Biggest Loser or Supersize vs Superskinny (two favourite trashy TV indulgences of mine), but I was I'd say a big size 16 (and possibly an 18 but stuffed into size 16 clothes). Not good.

So I decided to change and I took it all very seriously - sorted out my diet and my exercise routine and I lost around two and half stone or so. This did me the world of good, boosted my confidence, meant I could fit in size 12-14 clothes and ensured tons of compliments from those around me. I felt more confident in my clothes, on nights out and even at work weirdly for some reason.

However, in some odd way I also found losing weight meant some people started to treat me differently (or not bother with me at all) and weirdly when I lost weight was when it all started to go a little Pete Tong for me at work (I am SO showing my age using such a reference).

Well what has this got to do with life now you ask, am I now a stick insect-like creature who is super happy with the prospect of soon leaving my awful job??? In a word, no. I am becoming a bit of a porker again - or at least I feel that way. My clothes are getting tighter again (admittedly my new 12-14 size clothes) and I can't remember the last time I was in the gym. The reason for this is I've been stressed and when I get stressed this means chocolate - well it kinda means chocolate, wine, takeaways, crisps, cakes, name it I'll eat it. Yes, like a lot of women out there I comfort eat. I love my food and oh how I wish for the day to be one of these people who says they eat because they have to and when they're stressing out they 'just can't eat'. Oh no, not me I stuff my face and comfort eat until I can eat no more.

So why is it that some of us comfort eat (and in turn put on weight and undo all our good work) and others just can't bear to eat more than a few crumbs when times are tough? 

The problem I've got now is that I've eaten lots, which helped me feel better at the time, but now I've got guilt because I've not been exercising and I'm putting on weight, in turn leading to lower self esteem because I know I don't look as good.

This study  suggests that there could well be a gene which causes us anxiety when we're stressed and triggers us to eat what we refer to as comfort foods. So is it down to my genes as to why I like to eat when I'm stressed?... Is it somehow linked to control? So often people get eating disorders where they starve themselves or binge to make themselves sick just because to them it means they have control over things. 

Your parents/family life could also be to blame according to other studies so perhaps if you associate a particular food that maybe your parents used a reward when you were younger and had an accident, then you could turn to it in later life too.

Sometimes I've even found I'll try and comfort eat in secret so as not to look too much of a pig, which some could argue is a sign of an eating disorder if you start to consume food secretly.

A proportion of studies have even found that some people actually do the opposite and eat comfort food when they're happy. Come on guys, surely you're the messed up ones?! The clues in the name - eat to feel comfort...

Who knows what causes it, there could be a whole host of reasons, but for now I'm off to find my old uni mate (who often ate sticks of celery after a night out whilst we ate our toasties/burgers) and a close friend of mine who recently admitted she's got an addiction to grapes. Perhaps they can give me some tips...

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