Eating Feelings

My father died close enough to the holidays which made it easy to justify eating lots of homeCookies baked treats, primarily carb laden scones and cookies as I dealt with the emotional experience of loss and grief.

All my life, food has been a twisted psychological solution to stuffing my emotions and protecting my body from abuse, but of course stuffing never worked. Instead of insulating me from problems and keeping me safe, the fat was like the lid on a pressure cooker with a valve that kept me on the brink of exploding with negative self-talk and self-defeating behavior.

So knowing this, why do I keep returning to the negative and destructive behavior pattern of stuffing my body with food it doesn’t need or want?

ChildrenAside from the obvious—that food addiction is what I know and must somehow make me feel comforted—I think I convinced myself that to not have food meant deprivation. Eating less feels like going without, raising feelings of childhood neglect, both physical and emotional. I grew up in poverty, lacking food, healthy or otherwise. Also, there was never enough love, affection, and attention with five other siblings.

Exploring my own inner demons has not been a fun trip, but I’m tired of beating myself up each time I hit an emotional crisis, and I want to be done with taking it out on my body.

And I’m too vain. I don’t want to die fat!

At the beginning of the year, I joined the local Y, literally across the street, and I started YMCA Logowalking on a treadmill and lifting weights. The machines are preprogrammed so after entering my membership number I simply read a screen telling me how many reps, how much weight to lift, and which machine to use next. Not having to remember these things has relieved me of some of the accountability that often feels like too much pressure.

Not wanting to be accountable is another effect of abuse, and I brought myself full circle to the same problem––not wanting to be responsible for my own health and well being because I wasn’t taken care of as a child, expecting that task to fall to others, like my boyfriend. This is referred to as a sense of entitlement, a common problem with adult survivors, especially burdensome to those we task with taking care of us.

BlamingThis led to blaming my boyfriend for keeping me fat. He is a saboteur, a first rate baker who is always willing to bake or buy me the fattening treats I love while ignoring the possibility of diabetes that runs in my family. Yet I let him sabotage me so I can have someone to blame for my outrageous physical condition, to feel safe in an old and untrue thought bubble–that fat keeps me safe!

If you see yourself constantly repeating a negative behavior—that is, doing something that doesn’t serve to move your life forward or something that doesn’t keep you emotionally, physically or spiritually healthy—it’s time for change.

A good thing about behavior is that it can be changed!

It helped me to delve into the past to create the change I needed. My old foundation of negative thought and actions had to be torn down and knowing how it wasOld roof structured made it a safer and easier process. I am finally taking action and making better pro-health choices.

If you can’t remember your past, try to at least find the help that feels right for you, be it a Journaltherapist, trusted religious counselor, reputable psychic, journaling, or start reading self-help books—whatever it takes to start trusting your inner voice to lead you in the right direction toward healing. Go with what feels right for you (but not necessarily what feels comfortable.)


About Carole Avila

Carole Avila is an award winning author in short fiction, memoirs, and poetry. Eve's Amulet, Book 1 and Death House are both published by Black Opal Books. Her non-fiction work, The Long Term Effects of Sexual Abuse, is under contract. When Carole isn't writing, she loves reading, walking, visiting her daughters and grandsons, and enjoys a hot cup of chai tea with a spot of cream.
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5 Responses to Eating Feelings

  1. Carole Avila says:

    Reblogged this on Carole Avila – Writing is Breathing and commented:

    Healing from sexual abuse at my blog, Healing Through Awareness and Self-expression. Today it’s about Eating Feelings.


  2. S.J. Francis says:

    Wonderful information. You put a great deal of your heart into this post and it shows. Thanks so much for this valuable insight and sharing so much. It is greatly appreciated. What is it about stress that makes us eat for comfort? Cheers! S.J. Francis.


    • Carole Avila says:

      Thank you for visiting, SJ! I think that we associate certain foods and their textures and flavors with positive feelings. For instance, my mom would stretch the budget by making homemade flour tortillas. Thick and hot right off the iron pan with a gob of butter (which was cheap in the “olden days”) is one reason why I think I migrate now to carb-rich baked goods. Also, when I was sick, my mom would make homemade soup to get nutrients into my system. So many times when I was a child I tried to deliberately get sick without any luck at all! Sweet baked goods are still great comfort foods for me–donuts, cookies, cakes…aargh! So hard to say no to them when they’re freshly baked. Conversely, in childhood we drank milk until it quickly ran out and then it was Kool-Aid with a ton of sugar until the milkman came around again. I think that for this reason as an adult I don’t enjoy sodas and overly sweet drinks all that much.


  3. Touching article Carole, from the hear! It resonates… xxx


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