The Plan

Why was I eating? Am I an emotional eater? Happy, sad, bored, or mad I always seemed to handle it with food. Or is it all about food? Am I a carb, chocolate, sugar and ice cream junkie?


All the eating, snacking, sneeking, seconds and thirds; all the eating is related to:

Anxiety (also called angst or worry) is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somaticemotionalcognitive, and behavioral components.[2] It is the displeasing feeling of fear and concern [3] The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness, and dread.[4] Anxiety is considered to be a normal reaction to a stressor. It may help an individual to deal with a demanding situation by prompting them to cope with it. When anxiety becomes excessive, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder.[5]

1. Anxiety. I eat (and overeat) to avoid feeling anxiety. 
It’s the uncomfortable feeling that rises inside you when you try to ignore a craving; anxiety feels like hunger. When I think about it, it's not surprising that dieting makes me anxious. All the triggers below contribute to the amount of dieting related anxiety that I feel. 
Solution: I ensure that I don't feel like I'm on a diet. This means no more Weight Watchers.

2. Waiting too long to eat 
If I wait too long to eat (more than three hours), it will trigger eating that lasts the remainder of the day. Typically consuming mini cupcakes, or someother treat picked up while running errands. Why? Along with increasing anxiety, it takes a lot of food to satiate the off the charts hunger from waiting too long to eat.
Solution: I eat every three hours and I take snacks with me if I'm running errands when the three hour mark comes up.

3. Telling myself that I can't eat "bad" foods
After twenty years of dieting, media messages and finger-waving people telling me to not eat bad foods, it's not surprising that the very thought of eating "bad" food and the guilty feelings for eating "bad" food is going to increase anxiety, triggering hunger.
Solution: I tell myself that I can eat whatever I want, but I'm choosing to eat healthy foods since it will make me feel better and I would like to lose weight.

4. Telling myself that I can't eat "too much" food
Dieting says that you can't eat too much food. Seconds and thirds are a no-no. So, telling myself that I can eat whatever I want but only a small portion still triggers anxiety and hunger.
Solution: I tell myself that I can eat as much food as I want, but I'm choosing to have this portion size because I would like to lose weight.

5. Eating the same foods all the time
The pressure to follow a diet program (stay within points range/calorie limits, eat the right foods) made decision of what food to eat difficult. So, when I found a food or a combination of foods that worked for my diet, I would eat said foods for months, until it was too late. Swiftly (and without notice) I sought out "bad" foods to satisy a need for variety (again, made worse by the fact that I was telling myself to not eat "bad" foods).
Solution: I actively seek out variety in the foods that I eat. I'm following food blogs and using Google to search out ideas. When my brain sends me a message to eat something different, I switch it up.

6. Eliminating all sweets from the house
My food anxiety increased when no sweets (I love sweets) were in the house. No access to sweets, was another way of telling myself that I can't eat "bad" foods. I would start to think about sweets, obsess about sweets, then seek out sweets and eat (or overeat) sweets.
Solution: My pantry is stocked with something sweet, but not with a food that I like too much. For example: Nonni's biscotti: it's tasty, but it's not a food that I typically overeat.

7. Food doesn't taste good (or as I expect)
If food doesn't taste good or taste how I expect it should taste, I eat more food to make up for the food that didn't live up to my taste buds' expectations.
Solution: I tell myself that sometimes food isn't going to taste good and that's ok.

8. Rebellion
So who does a thirty-something year old Mom rebel against? A thirty-something year old Mom. Yes, that's right, I rebel against myself. If I'm overly restrictive (or perceive a choice as overly restrictive) such as, I'm only going to have one serving/piece, a common reaction is to eat additional servings/pieces.
Solution: My therapist asked me what I would say to myself to tame the inner rebel. My Mom would find it very amusing to know that I put myself in her shoes to come up with the narrative.

The good news is that with practice (like anything, developing new skills requires practice) my food/dieting related anxiety has decreased and handling the triggers has become second nature.


  1. I never considered the "food does not taste good, or as I expected..." causing me to overeat, but I have read it here several times and I finally thought it over and to my utter surprise - - I do that. I had all your others, but thought that was not me. But I do that - I sort of try to make up for it not being so good by eating more - or feeling sated.

    I like the simple idea of giving myself my healthy weight loss portion. So simple, so effective and true.

    1. I did this quite a bit. I knew I did this, but I thought I deserved to eat something that always tasted good. Re-framing my thoughts worked really well in this case...


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