A few weeks ago I went to the doctor for a routine checkup. After the check up I was about to get up and leave when she turned and asked me, "You have gained weight, I know you have been stressed, are you an emotional eater?" I obviously got very defensive and denied it, blamed my thyroid, work hours and everything on Earth that I could. She understood that I wasn't willing to talk about it; I said good-bye and left.
I was unsettled and disturbed by her question -- was I an emotional eater? What is an emotional eater? I had heard that term on numerous shows (including Oprah). According to the Internet an emotional eater allows his or her feelings to dictate when to eat.
It is true that I eat more when I am stressed. But then if I look at it logically, I also eat more when I'm happy, during family gatherings, when I'm alone or with friends. So now I'm thinking that I'm eating all the time and I have emotions all the time? What does that make me?
I grew up in a family where mealtimes were the most important time of the day. On the weekends we woke up and it was all about what we would have for breakfast. Once that was done, the lunch menu became a hot topic, and the lunch preparations began. After lunch it was the 4 o'clock tea time and then dinner preparations started. Those were the times we sat together, laughed, talked about our days and actually got to know each other. Meal times were my most favorite time of the day. My mother was the best cook in the world and to just eat her food while surrounded by siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and anyone else who was visiting was always heartwarming.
Food always gave me a warm fuzzy feeling and it became my security blanket. When life got tough and I was alone I ate to relive those good times. When I was beaten down by the hardships of life or the betrayal of a friend, those times of eating with the family comforted me.
I feel sad and guilty that because of working different jobs and the way life has become, I can't give that to my kids. I make meals once or twice a week and we eat it for the whole week. My children will never understand the prior generation's fascination with sitting around a table to eat. For them, their cell phones have become more exciting than a family meal.
I admit my love for food grows every day. I can emotionally feel hungry 24 hours even though my stomach gets full easily. I really feel like I'm in heaven when I'm eating a good meal. Maybe that is why many religions talk about fasting as food is a big seducer.
Did the memories or the emotions that came up during dark times, make me an emotional eater? Maybe it has, maybe it explains my weight and why I enjoy food so much. When I eat good food I am so thankful for being able to value what a blessing it is. And so you know what, I admit I am an emotional eater. When I eat I am happy, thankful, fulfilled and blissful. Yes I might never become a size 0, but maybe someone who is a size 0 will never enjoy the big bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup the way I will!