Weigh This Instead!

Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Tales of An Emotional Eater in Recovery

Emotional eater eating a sweet rollI am an emotional eater in recovery and I’m watching that truth play out as I wrap up an emotional trip home to see my Mom.

Today is the last day of my visit with my Mom. I fly home today at 5pm. I always have such mixed feelings on the last day of these visits. I’ve made about 30+ trips in the 6 years, since my Mom’s first of two strokes. I’m sad to leave and I also can’t wait to get home; back to my normal routine.

Emotional conflict like that used to lead to a binge. Not so this past week…

Being at the nursing home all day is exhausting. My Mom’s comprehension is fine, but she can no longer speak or write. It’s hell! Frustrated and depressed because she can’t communicate, she is very often in tears. Then, there’s what we see all around us all day long; disabled and elderly people whose health is failing. The nursing home smells. It’s hot; kept very warm because the residents often feel cold…the sounds; residents screaming…her roommate’s new and unpredictable mood swings. Every time I entered their room this trip, this roommate told me I didn’t belong there…and when I tried to understand what my Mom was trying to tell me, by asking a series of questions, this woman would scream for me to stop. And this is one of the best nursing homes in Boston! The staff is amazing! Still…it’s a terrible place for my Mom to be…

As I pack to leave this morning I wonder if this is the last time I’ll ever see my Mom … or will I be making these trips for six more years…so many feelings all at once!

And I am feeling it all! I’m not stuffing these intense feelings. Never thought I’d ever be grateful for that but I am! There was a time, not so long ago, when even the thought of feeling such intense feelings scared the heck out of me. Now I welcome them…because they’re part of being fully alive… and because now I know, now I trust that I can handle any feelings that come my way, without going numb through emotional eating. I didn’t know that before. I used to think if I felt all of my feelings, just sat with my feelings, I’d be so overwhelmed with emotion that I wouldn’t be able to cope, or function, or tolerate being alive (even if the feeling was boredom).

On this trip to see my Mom I have eaten a little more than usual because I’ve been bringing in take-out food for the two of us. The food at her nursing home is terrible–she has lost a scary amount of weight. So, I do what I can when I’m here. Normally, I would not be making food such a priority…but bringing her food is one way I can make a difference when I’m here.

Being a little more food focused, eating more on a trip than I would when home, used to scare me. The fear was about whether I was headed back down that old path, back into old habits. Not today…today, it just is what it is…something I can do to care for my Mom. Nothing more…

This is what recovery from being an emotional eater or a binge eater looks like! It is not perfect and recovery from emotional and/or compulsive overeating does not stop intense feelings from happening. It just stops the need to go numb with food when strong feelings happen. Today, with new skills and tools and a lot of practice, I have become competent at emotional regulation.

I have grown confident that I can tolerate and manage any feelings that come my way…

What a relief!

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I’m Ellen Shuman and I am a Recovery Coach who works with emotional eaters, with people who struggle with compulsive overeating and binge eating disorder. I am the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

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