Grieving Giving Up Overeating

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So, since the beginning of January, I've lost twelve pounds or so. I probably have another ten to fifteen to lose, but I'm taking a break for a bit and maintaining where I'm at for a while. Now that I don't have the excitement of losing weight, I'm finding that I am dealing with a lot of sadness or frustration with no longer having overeating as entertainment. I really enjoy eating, and used to use it as a way to fill boredom, to entertain myself when bored, to avoid things I didn't want to do, and just as a way to have fun. Although I have the maintenance calories to do some of that, I can't eat whatever I want whenever I want in amounts I want for any reason I want and still maintain my weight. I find myself still frequently wanting to use eating as entertainment and feeling frustrated - maybe even sad - that I can't. It's like a grieving process for giving up food as an always available way to fill time. Has anyone dealt with that? What helped? I remind myself that although I'm sad about giving that up, I'd be more sad and frustrated to have that and be overweight, and that reminder helps a little. Does that feeling go away?
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  • LivingtheLeanDream
    LivingtheLeanDream Posts: 13,342 Member
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    Its true that we get so much enjoyment out of eating, its a pleasure and thats why most of us are here because we over did that bit.

    It takes a while for new habits to form - I guess it is a grieving process of sorts. Just keep asking yourself, are you hungry? are you within your cals? if so then enjoy some food, guilt free. None of us can each as much as we want whenever, unfortunately.

    I keep busy when that notion to eat kicks in yet I've already had dinner - thats when I drink a large glass of water or have a cup of tea - that usually does the trick. Its a mental game, but new habits are formed over time and do stick :smile:

    Thats why a lot of people in maintenance focus on new goals rather than weight loss. They decided to become more active, perhaps work towards doing a 5k or incorporate strength training etc.
  • FitOldMomma
    FitOldMomma Posts: 790 Member
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    I completely understand what you're talking about. I used food in all the wrong ways for years, and I ended up paying the price for it. Extreme obesity.
    And for me...Yes, that feeling does go away for the most part. But it didn't until I realized one day that I felt so dang healthy and fit and I liked this feeling much more than any temporary satisfaction that food would bring me.
    Of course, I occasionally get a hankering for something ridiculously calorie laden and unhealthy-but it doesn't last.
    I don't deny myself anything, if I really want it I just try to eat a reasonable portion and make it fit my daily calories.

    But yes, it is a feeling akin to grief. I felt similar when I quit smoking a couple of years ago.
  • samwiserabbit
    samwiserabbit Posts: 153 Member
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    I don't have anything to help you, I just wanted to say I think it's cool that you're so aware of what's going on for you and you're able to articulate it and deal with it intentionally.
  • kyrannosaurus
    kyrannosaurus Posts: 350 Member
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    I have to remind myself of all the things I have gained. I can exercise without my feet hurting. I can walk into any shop and find clothes that fit. I don't have to worry about weight limits or whether or not I can squeeze into that carnival ride. I save money by not buying excessive amounts of junk food and can spend that money on much cooler stuff. I no longer have the enjoyment of overindulging on junk foods, but I have gained so much enjoyment in other areas of my life. Sometimes I just have to remind myself and put that in perspective.
  • Gamliela
    Gamliela Posts: 2,468 Member
    edited March 2016
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    Yes, I relate t the way you used food,for sure. Food was my god. I'm still having that empty feeling ( lol, along with feeling physically (hungry)empty too). I had got to apoint where I felt ridiculous and immature about how I was eating whatever I wanted whenever I felt like it. It no longer made sense to keep stuffing myself, grazing all day and feeling pretty lousy physically. I realized I was using food for every little problem, every slight I got from anyone, for every painful emotion I felt. The self pity and anger at anyone and anything grew. It got to where if I didn't have enough frustrating, uncomfortable emotions or events to get upset over, I could exagerate small ones and eat over those.

    I quit doing overeating in December. I did that gradually, sort of weaning myself off the bottle so to speak.
    I feel better now and I'm working on myself by looking at these things I mentioned, also doing more meditation to find constructive ways of dealing with unresolved emotional pain etc.

    What a great topic, you really rock for the honesty like sam said.

  • mommarnurse
    mommarnurse Posts: 515 Member
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    So, since the beginning of January, I've lost twelve pounds or so. I probably have another ten to fifteen to lose, but I'm taking a break for a bit and maintaining where I'm at for a while. Now that I don't have the excitement of losing weight, I'm finding that I am dealing with a lot of sadness or frustration with no longer having overeating as entertainment. I really enjoy eating, and used to use it as a way to fill boredom, to entertain myself when bored, to avoid things I didn't want to do, and just as a way to have fun. Although I have the maintenance calories to do some of that, I can't eat whatever I want whenever I want in amounts I want for any reason I want and still maintain my weight. I find myself still frequently wanting to use eating as entertainment and feeling frustrated - maybe even sad - that I can't. It's like a grieving process for giving up food as an always available way to fill time. Has anyone dealt with that? What helped? I remind myself that although I'm sad about giving that up, I'd be more sad and frustrated to have that and be overweight, and that reminder helps a little. Does that feeling go away?

    It goes away when you fill that need with something positive. (Like a type of fitness class, running, painting, roller blading etc.)
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 48,752 Member
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    I can't think of many activities that people enjoy where some form of eating isn't involved. Celebration is for enjoyment and we thrive on having fun and part of that fun is enjoying food.
    There's no hard rule that you can't enjoy what you like to eat if it doesn't affect your health directly. It's usually going to come down to portions.
    Habitual behavior can sometimes take a year to change, so try to be consistent as you can. It does get easier if your outlook is for a positive result rather then dwelling on the negative of it.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

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  • awnurmarc
    awnurmarc Posts: 125 Member
    edited March 2016
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    OP, this is an incredible opportunity for you to grow as a person, to acquire more health-conducive diversions, more productive habits and hobbies, and the mental toughness to be able to endure and become less susceptible to boredom.

    As a stroke survivor, boredom helped me push my recovery (nothing made me want to leave the house like being stuck there). I know of one stroke survivor who was far worse off than I ever was who wanted to give up. Boredom wouldn't let him and he now seems completely recovered. I bring this us because, despite what I said about mental toughness above, I am sure boredom can be a helpful feeling that forces a person to make progress. So my suggestion is to think about how to use it.
  • snowflake930
    snowflake930 Posts: 2,188 Member
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    It is hard for me sometimes to think I will never eat the way I used to.
    I love being a normal size though and would not go back for anything.
    I do sometimes miss eating anything I want, any time I want to. So I can really relate to your post.
    I am sure that for some people it goes away, but so far (28 months on maintenance) it has not for me.

    {{{robingmurphy}}}
  • Francl27
    Francl27 Posts: 26,371 Member
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    Well I've been on MFP for over 3 years and it hasn't gone away.

    I'm like you, it's always been about food. Holidays, vacations, parties... I'm always thinking about food! I guess I never really considered food as entertainment though... I just ate because it tasted good, not to pass the time or anything (that's what browsing the web is for... lol).

    But yeah, my advice is to find hobbies... reading, watching TV shows, exercising, those things keep you busy and get your mind off food.
  • SueSueDio
    SueSueDio Posts: 4,796 Member
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    OP, you've articulated that feeling very well! I've also lost about 12lbs in the past 8 weeks, and decided to take a 'maintenance break' because I want to see how much I've learned so far about portion control and good choices.

    One of the first things I did was start eating more chocolate just because I could, without considering whether I'd rather spend the extra calories on something more filling. (I say "filling" rather than "satisfying", because I love chocolate and find a couple of squares of the really dark stuff very satisfying from an emotional perspective!)

    Fortunately I realised what I was doing before it got out of hand and was able to rein it in right away, but I did experience a feeling of sadness that even once I reach my goal weight I'll never be able to eat whatever I want to again unless I'm prepared to put on weight. It would be lovely to reach goal and then feel free to stuff my face, but I now know that isn't going to be possible. I'm glad I realised it now, so that I can work on that over the coming months and hopefully be in a good position to maintain my weight when I do finally get there!
  • try2again
    try2again Posts: 3,562 Member
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    Nice post and I can absolutely relate to it! In fact, this was the dominant feeling when I started on MFP about a year ago. I was feeling terrible and knew a change had to be made, but I was depressed and even resentful that it was going to require giving up one of the few things that gave me enjoyment in life- food! I see all these threads about people lacking motivation, and boy did I lack motivation! Looking back, I'm shocked I got past it. A year later, I am down 40+ lbs, and even though I'm not on a highly restrictive calorie allowance, I still sometimes yearn to be able to eat freely w/o regard for the consequences. I think it literally is like mourning a death. You don't stop missing the person, but with time you get used to the new normal and maybe dwell on it less, while starting to focus on some of the more positive things. I am so much more fit now. I am not constantly plagued by heartburn & stomach aches. I don't struggle to get up off the couch. I no longer fear becoming disabled. I feel like I'm 48 instead of 80. But unless something magically changes in the future, yeah, sometimes it's still a bummer.
  • veggiecanner
    veggiecanner Posts: 137 Member
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    I'm a stroke survivor too so I am replacing food with the ability to bike ride and plant my garden. Those with loosing the weight have made alot of difference in the deppesion I had. I cann't really say I miss eating the way I did , I always have wanted to eat healthy, lots of veggies, way less meat. I was a vegetarian for 10 years . Not sure why I gave it up now. But now my husband cann't say anything when I opt of eating meat.
    I did quit my deficit eating ahead of time too. but more because I was wore out from it, I think because bike riding was a little harder than walking. So far I am the same 146 pounds I weighed when I added calories 2 weeks ago. So I added more this morning.
    But I would recomend finding a hobby , something to do in place of eating.

  • AllehRising
    AllehRising Posts: 1 Member
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    I don't think I've ever related more to a post here on MFP!
    It seriously does feel like grieving. Make sure you hold onto the knowledge and passion you have! I've been experiencing the same thing. If anyone tells you you're "stupid" for having these feelings, kindly tell them to F off. :) If you would have told me a year ago I was going to go through a grieving process where no one is dead, I would have called them crazy. It's almost like a part of yourself/myself is dying and being reborn.
    What has helped me is going back to old hobbies and reading. I've found they're a welcomed distraction and better habits than the old ones.
  • rhtexasgal
    rhtexasgal Posts: 572 Member
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    Francl27 wrote: »
    Well I've been on MFP for over 3 years and it hasn't gone away.

    I'm like you, it's always been about food. Holidays, vacations, parties... I'm always thinking about food! I guess I never really considered food as entertainment though... I just ate because it tasted good, not to pass the time or anything (that's what browsing the web is for... lol).

    But yeah, my advice is to find hobbies... reading, watching TV shows, exercising, those things keep you busy and get your mind off food.

    Ok, this right here ... this is so me! While some people I know just eat to live. Well, I LIVE to eat. I love food - the smells, textures, experimenting with it, trying new cuisines ... to me, food is an experience to be had :) It was quite hard to reign this in! However, I turned to the internet for food ideas and turned fattening favorites into low-cal options. I started visiting local ethnic stores and the Penzey's spice store to purchase new spices I haven't tried yet. Simply things to make my new way of eating more enjoyable. I started noticing that I was not obsessing so much about food, in terms of "boredom" or keeping my hands and mouth busy. Oh, I was still thinking about food, but from a different perspective.

    Now, when I hear the siren song of Hershey's kisses or jalapeno chips, I will chew a piece or two of gum or pop some air-popped popcorn (only about 30 calories a cup!) and spritz it with jalapeno juice (weird, I know but oh so flavorful for no calories virtually). Still, there are times when I want to sit on the couch with a bag of Lays and just veg with my favorite Die Hard movie :) I just don't make it a habit.
  • try2again
    try2again Posts: 3,562 Member
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    Francl27 wrote: »
    Well I've been on MFP for over 3 years and it hasn't gone away.

    I'm like you, it's always been about food. Holidays, vacations, parties... I'm always thinking about food! I guess I never really considered food as entertainment though... I just ate because it tasted good, not to pass the time or anything (that's what browsing the web is for... lol).

    I'm like you, @Francl27 . You see all these threads about food addiction and it's like nope... I just really, really like it ;)
  • mmmpork
    mmmpork Posts: 133 Member
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    The way I cope with it is by not putting any restrictions on what I can eat, just on how much I eat. I recently went to a fancy restaurant and had a 5 course chef's tasting menu. The servings were well portioned but I still didn't feel compelled to clean my plate. I don't like feeling stuffed and bloated after eating. Not feeling like crap after stuffing myself is my main motivation for not overeating. I don't see any reason to mourn that. But I do understand :smile: If you find yourself wanting to eat because you're bored, you just have to find other things to replace it. If I want to snack or have munchies I usually chew gum, or I'll take the dog out for a walk and if I still want a snack when I get back I'll have one. Or even better, if it's been a few hours since my last meal I might just eat a proper meal. Sometimes I eat dinner at 4:30pm and then have a snack later, just because that's when I get hungry.
  • mmmpork
    mmmpork Posts: 133 Member
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    Oh, another thing, as I'm reading other people's responses and thinking more about what you're saying... you should really think about why you want to binge so bad and see if there's a deeper emotional issue going on. In my case, my parents were very restrictive with regards to food when I was growing up and my aunt was also always on some weird diet where they couldn't eat this or that. Growing up, I had learned to associate certain foods with guilt and so whenever I had access to them I just wanted to eat as much as I could. My family was verbally and mentally abusive, and it wasn't until I addressed the emotional issues I had around those relationships that I was able to overcome this constant cycle of restrictive denial and all out binges.
  • rgbmore
    rgbmore Posts: 85 Member
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    I LOVE buffets. Love them so much--trying out new foods, having a few bites of each thing, eating until I'm going to pop. It's a sad day when you find out you're consuming 5000 in a sitting. I really enjoyed those meals, but they are gone. I can sympathize, my favorite thing is food! This will always be my battle, but the knowledge that this "deprivation" is for a good reason is the only thing that keeps me on track.
  • try2again
    try2again Posts: 3,562 Member
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    mmmpork wrote: »
    The way I cope with it is by not putting any restrictions on what I can eat, just on how much I eat. I recently went to a fancy restaurant and had a 5 course chef's tasting menu. The servings were well portioned but I still didn't feel compelled to clean my plate. I don't like feeling stuffed and bloated after eating. Not feeling like crap after stuffing myself is my main motivation for not overeating. I don't see any reason to mourn that. But I do understand :smile: If you find yourself wanting to eat because you're bored, you just have to find other things to replace it. If I want to snack or have munchies I usually chew gum, or I'll take the dog out for a walk and if I still want a snack when I get back I'll have one. Or even better, if it's been a few hours since my last meal I might just eat a proper meal. Sometimes I eat dinner at 4:30pm and then have a snack later, just because that's when I get hungry.

    Eating foods you enjoy is helpful, but it's not the whole story. I once heard a comedian talking about pizza and how, to fully enjoy it, at least 3 slices have to be involved. The first one, you are just registering the fact that you are eating pizza. The second one is good, but you can't really enjoy it if you know it's your last one. But if you have 3, that kind of rounds things out and gives you the full experience. It was meant to be silly, but I think there's some truth to it. For many of us, 3 slices of our favorite pizza isn't feasible anymore. 3 slices of modified, slimmed down pizza on extra thin crust (i.e., not as good), yes. 3 slices of our favorite... no. Not that we can never have it, of course, but then we have to do so much *thinking* about it, which=less enjoyment.