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What's wrong with me

I am a emotional eater I'm depressed so constantly I steal and take food from my little sibling or the fridge I am over weight and my brother always calls me fat my parents make me exercise while other people say I don't need to I get so confused I feel bad because my parents once put me on a diet of turkey sandwichs applesauce and crackers I don't want I go back because I did that for 3 months and was skinny but I can't even stomach turkey anymore I don't know what to do please help
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Hi Soulsinger

You say that you are an emotional eater.  From what I understand in your letter, you find comfort in food so you eat when you are emotional - and since you are depressed, you find that you are eating too much, even stealing food from your sister. You are not alone. This is what many people who are depressed do.

It is important to know that sugar and starches are drugs, as they can significantly alter or moderate mood. Comfort food provides comfort. This is a neurochemical process that mimics the effects, even the high of other drugs.  All these substances, i.e., food, alcohol, nicotine, enter the body and ultimately degrade to the same neurochemistry that is common to all pleasure, and all addiction. On the neurochemical level, you are eating so that the food will work like an antidepressant or like a drug or alcohol. If you eat too much food, you will get a 'high' and feel better, but then you will also experience the crash afterwards. Hence you likely get quite depressed after a binge of eating; see it as a hangover just like the alcoholic hangover for a drinker.

You may  be suffering from a food addiction. If this is the case, then the solution to stoping this cycle of depression - food - more depression, will be different from if you are using food only to soothe your emotional distress on occasion. See if these questions apply to you?

1. Have you ever wanted to stop eating and found you just couldn’t?
2. Do you think about food or your weight constantly?
3. Do you find yourself attempting one diet or food plan after another, with no lasting success?
4. Do you binge and then “get rid of the binge” through vomiting, exercise, laxatives, or other forms of purging?
5. Do you eat differently in private than you do in front of other people?
6. Has a doctor or family member ever approached you with concern about you're eating habits or weight?
7. Do you eat large quantities of food at one time (binge)?
8. Is your weight problem due to you're “nibbling” all day long?
9. Do you eat to escape from your feelings?
10. Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
11. Have you ever discarded food, only to retrieve and eat it later?
12. Do you eat in secret?
13. Do you fast or severely restrict your food intake?
14. Have you ever stolen other people’s food?
15. Have you ever hidden food to make sure you have “enough?”
16. Do you feel driven to exercise excessively to control your weight?
17. Do you obsessively calculate the calories you’ve burned against the calories you’ve eaten?
18. Do you frequently feel guilty or ashamed about what you’ve eaten?
19. Are you waiting for your life to begin “when you lose the weight?”
20. Do you feel hopeless about your relationship with food?
Copyright © 2000-2010 Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous

If you are a food addict, you may be happy to know that there is a solution. It is NOT about counting your calories or eating only turkey! or going hungry so that you can loose weight. It is also NOT about exercising, though this is good for your physical and mental health. Exercise is not the main tool to help a food addict.

How to help yourself is to deal with the obsession to eat the foods that you are tempted with. Once you have dealt with these, you will crave foods nor need to loose weight - since the weight will come off without exercise. So how to deal with the obsessions and the temptations? You will need to identify the triggering foods - Sugar is probably the most addictive food substance there is. Most of us struggle with sugar cravings at various points in our lives, but for food addicts, it is an all consuming daily struggle that we always loose if we keep eating sugar. Remember: sugar = comfort = depression = cravings for more sugar or other similar foods.

Probably the only way that you can deal with the cravings for sugar is to STOP eating sugar completely. And  you will have to stop eating refined flours, like breads, pastas, potatoes; these are all metabolized to become sugar within minutes.

This may seem difficult to do at first.  It is a 'one day at a time' venture. At first, you need to know that you will very likely feel withdrawal: this will feel like increased cravings, agitation, irritability, and depression. You will probably find yourself giving in when you are hungry, angry, tired. These are the times that people relapse the most, as with any drug addiction.

The good news is that it only takes about three weeks for cravings to start to subside IF you stop eating junk food completely. Your mood will probably improve as well. Unless you sneak in a few treats here and there (like on a weekend or as a special treat)-this will serve to prolong the cravings and depression indefinitely.  If your addiction has advanced enough, even a small treat will be enough to make the cravings return even worse that before.

You might find that you can 'get away' with eating junk food once in a while - IF you are simply an emotional eater. But if you find that you simply keep relapsing back to your depression and junk food fix, then you will have to stop completely. You can no longer 'cheat,' even once in a while.

You can find out more information about food addiction and resources as well as dietary suggestions on my website: addictionsunplugged.com.
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