Food, Feelings and… Eleanor Roosevelt?

Originally posted Aug 2008 at

I had a sort of crummy day yesterday. I don’t want to give details, but trust me when I say I had a total meltdown. David allowed me to order a (small) pizza (BLT of course!). I went back for a 4th slice David let me get to the box and then asked…

“Are you still eating because you’re hungry? Or because you are upset?”

“I’m eating cause I’m sad!” I wailed back at him. He opened his arms up to me and I very literally collapsed in them as I sobbed. He held me and kissed my wet face and told me it would be ok. After crying for about an hour, I pulled myself together. I went back to David and thanked him for stopping me. He said he just felt like he had to say something since I had asked him to help me stay on track.

I’m not sure he realizes just HOW much he helped. I mean, I made it to today. The world didn’t end, my heart is intact, though scarred, and I learned I don’t need to eat to feel better.

So, as I finish breakfast this morning (a protein shake, a banana, and 2 ounces of lean turkey) let me tell you this: “If hunger is not the problem, food is not the solution.” I don’t know who first said it (I saw it posted on the Weight Watchers forum.), but it is very true. You can’t expect food to make you feel better. It doesn’t work.

That leads me to the next thing- Feel your feelings, don’t feed them.” It’s ok to feel sad, disappointed, worried… But if you try to suppress them, well, we all know the effects of stress on our body! Eating to avoid dealing with an issue is not the way to go. When I feel some sort of negative emotion, I feel drained, empty inside. I eat to feel full- even if I am already physically full. There are healthier ways to be fulfilled and satisfied- working out, taking a walk, stretching, playing with your pets, volunteering, singing, reading a good book…

That leads me to the next thing- “It’s food, not love.” Yesterday, I wanted to eat because I was disappointed, worried, confused and sad. What I really needed was to David say “No matter what happens, I’ll be here and I’ll still love you.” I know that’s true, and he demonstrates it in lots of different ways (for instance, he makes me a healthy breakfast every morning, and he makes the bed when he gets up in the afternoon), but yesterday I need to see his lips move and hear it with my ears. If you need something, don’t be afraid to ask for it. I am shameless when it comes to fishing for compliments from my husband. But you know what- I always feel confident/beautiful when he responds. If you need a hug- give one. Identify the need and fill it- don’t fill your stomach!

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” . . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I put a nice little crack in my chain of bondage to food last night. Today I am a little bit stronger, a little bit more courageous and a lot more confident. I lived through a rough patch and I can take the next bad thing that comes. You can do it too. You can live through the negatives in life. You can break the hold that food has on you.

Eleanor Roosevelt was a wise woman. She also said “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built” I think she means that if we face challenges head on, without backing down then we grow a little stronger each time.

Let me close with a couple more encouraging quotes.

“Sometimes you have to fight the battle more than once to win.”

“You don’t drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there.”

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” (Robert Collier)

(I originally  wrote this in 2008 shortly after finding out I had a tumor and the possibility that I might not able to carry our genetic children. Obviously, we have THREE beautiful daughters that are very much ours. God can work miracles in anything.)


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