Emotional Eating-Learning to Cope

I keep hearing that Bright Line Eating is not a “diet”, it is a lifestyle. I have heard that before with other plans as well. Heck, the whole reason I knew I could do the 14 day challenge was because of the last “new lifestyle” I tried, Whole 30, which is where I got the inspiration for the name of this Blog. I did Whole 30, for a whole 28 days. And then, I broke the rules. But instead of “starting over on day one” as the book suggested, I quit. And within about 3 weeks, I gained back the 15 lbs I had lost. Story of my life.

So what makes this plan different? Why is it that now all days are “Bright” and if they are not, the next meal is and I just keep going? I don’t know, other than to agree with the notion, that this is not a diet, and that weight loss is a side effect of healing your brain and changing your habits, which are the real plan.

In the past when things in my life got difficult, I would almost always default to soothing myself with food. Over the course of this year I have started using other techniques to calm my anxiety when things get hard. Difficult work situations, Covid, stress with the kids, and now a wild fire is burning 1.5 miles from my parents, threatening my childhood home and turning my stopping grounds to ash. These things stress me out. But after 8 months of practice and patience with myself, instead of raiding the refrigerator for leftovers or scooping myself abundant portions of ice cream, I have a cup of tea. I go to bed early. Snuggle down with a book or take a bath. I might do some art or sometimes, I take a walk. Sometimes, I set a timer and meditate for 5 minutes focusing on slowing my breathing and easing the tension in my chest.

A year ago, none of these things would have crossed my mind as an option for making myself feel better. A year ago, I would not have even recognized that I was reacting to a trigger. I certainly would not have had the thought pop into my head that recognizes I am feeling bad and suggests I be easy on myself, that I “put on my bunny slippers” and treat myself with kindness. But I do, these are the things the voice in my head now suggests when I get the itch to panic. All by itself, no weight loss considered, I would call this a win. Recognizing these actions and reactions is a true non scale victory (NSV).

This is the power of Bright Line Eating. Go beyond the diet and learn to cope with difficult feelings, the right way.

My Story: The Origin Of My Food Addiction

“Rachel! Come in, honey.”

I look over my shoulder and see my great aunt standing on the front steps of the house on Cooper Avenue calling me to come in. It’s still early and light out. I turn, reluctantly and start making my way back down the street to her house. She’s in her 70’s, I am 5 or 6. I want to play with the neighborhood kids, but she’s worried she can’t keep track of me and beckons me into the house.

I come in and sit down on the floor in front of the couch. She offers me some candy from this blue dish she has that stacks, one bowl on top of the other, each higher one acting like the lid of the one below until the top little one which has a lid ends the stack. Chocolate covered raisins. Yum, my favorite. I grab a handful and settle in. She turns on Nick at Night and we wait for my parents to pick me up.

This scene repeats itself day after day all summer. Before you know it, school is starting and the lack of activity and ample supply of treats has contributed to an already brewing dependency developing in me; food addiction.

I didn’t know it then, I was a kid. But I was developing life long habits for emotional eating and sugar addiction.

Sitting here, watching my own children, I worry about what I am teaching them. I don’t want them to grow up facing the challenges I have faced. I want them to be free of these chains.

I grew up in a family and in a time, when separating food and emotion wasn’t a science people talked about. We celebrated with food, we comforted with food. We did holiday’s and traditions and condolences with food. And just like that, I went from a “healthy” weight kindergartner, to an overweight first grader. In the 30 years that have followed, I have yet to return to a “healthy weight”. But that is about to change…