Thursday, 11 November 2010

Emotional Attachment to Food

I have real trouble with food. I love the wrong types of food and today is day three of me attempting to lose more weight. I've lost a stone this year, but being only five foot tall, I don't carry weight well, so I do need to lose more. I know I'm not alone in this, because several thousand people are members of one slimming group or another. Statistically more woman diet then men, with almost two in five (37%) women dieting most of the time, compared to around just one in six (18%) of men.

Why is this? I don't believe it's just an urge to be thin. All the talk about aspiring to look like those women in the popular publications. I actually believe, for me, it's more about an emotional attachment to food and it's a pretty deep rooted one at that.

The minute I get stressed I start eating. If I'm sad, I eat. If I'm happy, I go out to celebrate, I eat.

Why is it I can just not see food as a fuel for my body, a means to function, rather than an emotional crutch with which I can support myself at required times.

Whilst I find that diet clubs do work, I feel they only work when you are in the right “zone” to enable you to follow the plan and once you follow the plan correctly, the weight drops off. But what about the times when your emotional place takes some bombardment and there's not a cat in hells chance of you sticking to the plan?

I've been off plan for about seven weeks now. I have been eating everything in sight. I have an urge to shove things in my mouth (mucky minds out of the gutter please!) A need for the food to heal something within me.

I genuinely feel it is this emotional attachment that needs dealing with. The disassociation from comfort, support and the shovelling until you can't move, type of feelings . We all know the way we should be eating, but recently I lost my brain, to pure emotive eating, which goes on to add a few pounds, making me even more miserable and away we go.

Is this emotional attachment to food, inbred into us? Or do we learn it?

I think some of it may be learnt. I had one of those upbringings where I was made to eat everything on my plate regardless of whether I liked it or not or whether I wanted or needed it.

Another time in life, when dating, we eat out a lot, or I did, so another emotional attachment to food was made. Happiness happens around food.

A life of different messages with food, have led to a middle aged short person constantly unhappy with her height and shape, yet seemingly unable to correct it. I'm not lazy. I've lost a stone. But with the stresses of a potentially ill child, boundary pushing teenagers and a busy working life, I seem unable to do what I know that I should.

Does anyone else have emotional food attachments to food and how do you deal with it?


  1. "mucky minds out of the gutter please!"

    *closes browser window*

    But seriously, this is an excellent dissection of your own personal link between food and happiness, I should really write my own version.

    Personally, I've always noticed myself eating excessively at times of stress, although I believe primarily that I simply feel happier when I'm eating food I enjoy regardless of my current mental state.

    However, I also feel equally as good when I'm losing (or have recently lost) weight. I seem to bounce between one and the other, and once I'm in that middle-ground, it's anybody's guess which way I'll go next.

    Very interesting blog post Jane, certainly given me some food for thought. (Excuse the awful pun!)

  2. My father forced us to eat, my mother didn't. Meal times with my father was a stressful, horrid affair and with knot constantly in stomach I found it very hard to eat. When my parents got divorced, I didn't stop eating. Now, when I am stressed I can't eat. Judging by the size of me, I'm not stressed too often. I do love food - the tastes, textures, etc. But have to constantly watch myself. When my son died, I starved myself in honour of him - which I suppose is a true reflection of my relationship with food - a very complicated one!
    Great blog and thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. Thank you both for your comments. It makes it easy to see where the connections are made when dialogue opens up, but not many people actually want to recognise that there are food issues rather than a simple diet to fix it all. I think It's something we can all work on now we know they exist. At least we are no longer fighting in the dark.

    Nicola - I'm so sorry about your son. I can't even begin to imagine the pain of that. I hope your writing provides some help through the days for you. x