The operating assumption is that when it comes to weight loss, men are from Mars (like the candy?) and women are from Venus. In particular, there is a frequently cited belief that men are not emotional eaters. We eat because we are hungry, not because we are sad. Or do we?...
The past six weeks have been pretty crazy, and they have certainly not be devoid of stress. New program launch, new marketing campaigns, annual budgets, etc. etc. Rewarding and exciting, but more than a little intense. Last week was particularly so. Take the nuttiness of the first week of January when we get crazy busy and add on top a few unforeseen personal dramas, and I was a slightly over-wrought little puppy. As I sit here on Saturday, I've already forgotten and/or put into perspective most of the things that were causing me stress. What I do remember very clearly is how I channeled my emotions.
For example, I was flying down to Dallas, and the nice flight attendant offered me a cup of warm nuts (and I love nuts). I didn't need them, but dammit, I had a tough day. I deserved this food that I didn't need. I came home late from work another night, and I was a little wrecked and exhausted. There was a nice piece of fudge in the fridge. I wasn't really hungry, but dammit, I deserve a nice piece of fudge (don't we all).
In the broad context, I had a pretty good week in most of my eating choices, but I found myself being fascinated by these little food salves that I was applying to my wounded soul. Holy cow. I was self-medicating with food! Put on some Barry Manilow, throw in a box of tissues, and I could have let loose a pretty respectable cry. This was no good! I was at risk of being kicked out of the Little Rascals He-Man-Woman-Haters-Club (please don't shred me if you've never heard of this 1930 cultural reference). I am already bracing myself for the abuse I will likely get from some of my friends who read this blog. [Then again, they are reading a weight loss blog, so who are they to judge?]
Yet, I have a sneaking suspicion that more men are emotional eaters than would like to admit. "I had an awesome day working the stock market. I deserve a steak!" "I lost all my money on the stock market. I deserve a steak." "It's Friday, the work week is over and I deserve to eat an entire still-living bovine. With a nice Bearnaise sauce." "I'm bored. I want to chew off my finger tips." "I just got dumped. I want some ice cream." What? You don't think men say the last one? They may not say it, but it doesn't mean they don't do it.
|So! Professor Plum in the Library with a Wrench! |
The Limbic System made me eat the cake!
So what to do? Cognitive behavioral therapy would seem to suggest that I find a way to recognize in the moment when I'm reaching for the food "medicine". For the short term, I need to remind myself that what ever is polluting the Limbic system of my brain (the part of the gray matter that houses the weepies) is not best cured by the self-pitying food grab. Proactively and thoughtfully analyzing the underlying problem and source of the emotion seems at least slightly more useful. And it's certainly less caloric.
Here endeth my self-applied therapy session. Thanks for sitting in!
For any of you other guys who want to come clean about emotional eating, this blog is a safe place devoid of harsh judgment. Also, as I've now made the case that emotional eating is not a gender-specific issue, all women inclined to share should freely do so too!