Comfort Eating, a personal reflection

This week I would like to share a personal experience with you about where I am on my journey with regards to comfort eating.

Let me begin by sharing with you what happened to trigger the start of a comfort eating moment for me. As some of you know we were due to complete on a house sale on Friday. In the UK the system is all about exchanging contracts and money on the same day. We were selling our lovely cottage in Ashdown Forest and buying a larger house that we could eventually make our full time home. Everything was going well Friday morning. We had the furniture loaded on the truck and were waiting for the phone call to tell us the keys were ready for collection!

When we got the call we discovered to our horror that our cottage was sold but the building society would not release the funds to buy our new house. On further investigation we discovered there was a part of the paper trail missing. It was the error of the building society and they were waiting for someone to produce the paperwork. All within their organisation, no one we could chase and out of our control! Basically as I write our furniture is in storage and we still do not have resolution.

As you can imagine this was and to some extent is very stressful. So what happened with regard to my eating habits…..

That morning I had eaten a good healthy breakfast with lots of protein. At this stage no stress just excitement. I’d supplied chocolate biscuits for the removal men and had one of those too, still no comfort eating. By 5pm we were hanging around waiting to get into the storage unit so I went into a supermarket to get some sandwiches.

Here is where it starts to get interesting. I wasn’t hungry and had no cravings but forced myself to eat a sandwich. This was a new response, in the past I think I would have by now eaten all the biscuits and in the supermarket got lots of other goodies. So what had happened to my comfort eating? I realised I was still conscious about my eating and more aware of my body. Interestingly it seemed I had some beliefs about the importance of eating something to keep my body going. There might even be something positive in that.

My sister very kindly offered us a bed for the night. We offered to pay for take away Indian Food as a thank you. This is where things got a bit more intense. The food was good but I’m not sure how much of it I actually tasted. I ate quickly and kept going even after my stomach was giving me signals of discomfit and fullness. There was a part of me observing this but a greater part of me ignoring all the signals and eating more.

Did it make me feel better? Absolutely not. It was just a distraction.

Joe and I had not spent much time together during the day to process our experience because he had been driving the van and doing the heavy work (metaphor there I think). We now took a moment to express our feelings, acknowledge the situation and re-focus ourselves. We reviewed what action needed taking. We had taken all the action that was possible at this stage. There was nothing more we could do and still isn’t until tomorrow (Monday). We made sure we connected emotionally. We also did a reality check on our situation.

Is this life threatening? No.

Can we survive it? Yes.

Do we have the ability to take the action we need to take at the time we need to take it? Yes.

Have we asked for help? Yes, this was a big one for us. Both Joe and I are very independent and tend to avoid asking others for help. We allowed ourselves to accept help from a number of people and realised how much support and love we have around us.

This is what allowed us to feel better not the food. We took this further by adopting a perspective that may not be true. We asked ourselves what is the positive intention behind having this experience in our lives right now?

This is a very profound thing to do, it is making the assumption that on some level we create our own reality. It really doesn’t matter if this is true or not. What matters is that by taking this perspective we were able feel as if we were back in control of our lives. We came up with a list of positive intentions and benefits to this experience that allowed us to feel better. None of it was connected to food!

On a practical level, the problem is still unresolved. The chances are it will get resolved one way or another on Monday. Whatever happens we can handle it even if it is inconvenient. It may well cost us a lot of money however money is not as important as realising our value as human beings. Our value remains constant no matter what happens.

I’ve used the blog as therapy for myself this week and hope you will be okay with the indulgence. For me this has also been an opportunity to notice how much my relationship with food has changed. I would love to hear from you about comfort eating this week. I am interested in hearing from those of you who experience comfort eating in your life at the moment. The following will hopefully help you begin your transformed relationship with food, keep a diary about your comfort eating:

  1. If you notice the urge to comfort eat before you reach for the food write down what is going on for you. What is the situation? How are you feeling? What do you need? Once you have done this if you still want to eat do so. Afterwards write down how you feel now, did it help?
  2. If you eat first and then realise you’ve been comfort eating write down a review of what happened and how you feel now.
  3. Either way find someone you can reach out to and share your reflections. You can do so on my blog if you wish. It needs to be someone who understands that their role is to be a listener. Evaluation and advice are unhelpful in this process.

Let me know how you get on.

I’d also like to hear from people who have already changed their relationship with food. How did you do it? Sharing your ideas in the comments will help others so let’s hear from you.

I’ll let you know next week what happened with the house! By the way we do have somewhere to live for those of you who are wondering.



About Melody @ GWizlearning

Melody spent fourteen years gathering experience of the business world working in banking, telecommunications and the public sector before co-founding The GWiz Learning Partnership in 1993. Melody has a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology, a degree in Psychology and a diploma in Psychotherapy. She is an NLP Master Trainer which allows her to run NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner and NLP Trainer Training courses certified by the Positive School of Intrinsic Neuro-Linguistc Psychology. She is also a qualified Myers Briggs practitioner and EI practitioner and added to all this is five years Transactional Analysis training, meaning she is able to help organisations access the hidden potential in their staff. She is also in demand for her work in transforming average or even troubled teams into high performers. Melody is a visiting lecturer at University of East London, teaching "Wellbeing and Positive Psychology" to undergraduates. Additionally, she is a member of the CIPD and is ILM accredited. Melody's interests are many and varied. She has a keen interest in personal development, canine and wolf psychology, conservation, movies and running. She also enjoys western horse riding, walking the GWiz dogs, nature watching and stage combat (particularly sword fighting).
This entry was posted in Emotional Awareness, Life in General, Metaphor, NLP, Personal Development, Reality, relationships, resilience, Self Esteem, Weight loss and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Comfort Eating, a personal reflection

  1. Pingback: “food” ~ #MondayPrompt for week 22/10 – 28/10/2012 « Phoenix's Poetry & Stories

  2. Sousa Hari says:

    Hi Melody, my sympathy is with you – the UK system is only good if it works, which is not often…

    My experience is taken from this weekend. I went to my daughters for 1pm (2 hrs travel), we were to spend the weekend with my nephew in Kent (another 2 hrs travel) but as it’s mostly A roads (main roads) and motorways, it’s not usually a problem. There was a huge delay due to roadworks and volume of traffic and just as we started making progress, an accident caused more lanes to be closed. We arrived in Kent at 9pm….
    As my daughter and I had eaten a snack at the start of our journey, we didn’t take extra food or drink with us in the car. During the delayed drive, neither of us felt hungry – just thirsty, so we stopped at a Services cafe en route.
    Although my daughter is a very slim size 10 she believes she needs to lose weight and says she has a large stomach and bottom. She has a phone app that calculates the calories of her food/drink intake and how many calories she burns during exercise, which offsets it. I really worry how obsessive her need to enter data is. While eating a salad she was entering it on her phone app. She wouldn’t allow herself a sachet of mayonnaise because the app told her it was high cal. She calculated she needed to run up and down my nephew’s stairs for 2 hrs to burn off enough calories to offset her days food intake, as she’d had no exercise.

    Surely this isn’t a healthy way to live your life? I didn’t tell her my concerns, as she doesn’t appreciate her mum interferring with her choices at 27!! How can she learn to listen to her body’s needs if she relies on a phone app to guide her?


    • Hi Sousa

      Watching our loved ones and feeling unable to comment is a challenge. It sounds like you love your daughter very much and understand that feedback is not always welcome.

      Have you had any general chats about body image, self esteem etc without making it about her? It might be interesting to find out her opinions about such topics. This might make it possible to share your thoughts without her feeling you are interfering. Ultimately if she does not perceive that she has a problem she may not be open to discussion.

      Thanks for sharing your story :0)

  3. Michelle Flynn says:

    Hi Melody. Great blog. Just a small comment. When i was reading your post, i didnt see any mention of lunch? It’s quite a long time for your body between breakfast and 5pm. I totally agree with you that stress and anxiety can affect our eating habits. I think you have a point there that you ate the sandwich even though you didn’t feel hungry. Sometimes perhaps we need to get into a habit of eating to get our brains to settle emotionally. I try to eat little and often and have found that some foods seem to have more of a calming effect than others.

    • Thanks Michelle

      You are right I didn’t eat lunch that day due to circumstances. What was interesting for me was that in the past my response to stress would have been to get really hungry and to eat a lot. Instead I didn’t want anything. From a health perspective that wasn’t healthy either however it was an interesting shift.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s