It was December of 2006. To say I thought my life sucked is putting it mildly.
I'd resigned from my job because it wasn't a healthy environment. My lease had ended so I moved back in with my parents while I figured out my next step. And since it was the middle of holiday season, I was eating every sugary thing in sight. Cookies. Fudge. Chocolate-covered cherries. None of them stood a chance if I was nearby.
For many years, I'd wrestled with low-grade depression. I was consistently sluggish, overweight and had suicidal thoughts on a regular basis. Medication was always an option, but something inside me was telling me I wasn't depressed because I was lacking in whatever the latest drug was.
Yet I still didn't know what to do or that there were other options, so my depression increased and my desire to live decreased. There were times I spent entire days in bed, lacking the physical, mental and emotional energy to move. I thought of ways to end my life that would be quick and painless.
But then, I thought about my nieces and nephew. Did I really want my legacy to be that of an aunt who took her own life?
And that's when my life changed.
I remembered reading somewhere that sugar can cause depression, so I decided to stop eating sugar for one week and see how I felt. If I didn't feel better after that, I'd give myself permission to end my life. At that point, what was one more week?
If I did feel better, I told myself I'd explore what a life without sugar looked like, and how it could impact my way of living. It was in that moment I decided to become an emotional eater by making the choice to only eat things that were healthy for me.
At the end of the week, I felt better. It wasn't a total fix, but the dense, heavy fog that had surrounded me was lifting and I felt hopeful.
I went back to school to become a health coach, then culinary school to become a natural food chef and to learn everything I could about emotional eating. As my brother likes to say, I was "obsessed."
Through my research, I came across an idea found in traditional Chinese medicine that says every food has a different energy, and by varying what we eat based on how we feel (or want to feel), we build a stronger sense of health and well-being.
If I want to feel grounded and relaxed, I'll eat root vegetables, meats, fish and beans. If I want to feel lighter, creative and flexible, I'll go for leafy greens, fruit, sea veggies and chocolate. If I want to feel more connected to where I'm living, I'll purchase foods from local farmers. I'm always thinking about how I want to feel and what foods can help me feel that way.
Knowing that I have the ability to control my emotions by how I eat has been the most profound and powerful tool I've ever learned.
Of course life happens and things are bound to make us sad — not everything can be dictated by what we choose to put into our bodies. But now I know that those feelings and emotions don't have to be permanent. If I want to increase. It's my choice.
What about you? Have you been on a roller coaster of emotional eating that hasn't given you the life you want? What changes can you make today to become a proud, happy emotional eater?
Here's to being a proud emotional eater.