Organic Melinda

healthy living with a Latin twist


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Day 30 – A Day of Work, Work, Work

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 I have switched my site to a new server. I will only be posting on this blog for the next week or two until I have completed the site transfer. 

To My Little Princess,

What a day this has been. Mami woke up to edit for a client, transfer my website to a new server, edit for another client, and work some more.

I am sorry for not being as attentive as you needed me to be, but I am glad that I got to hold you in my arms while I worked. You got to play with my hair and fall asleep on my chest.

I know that there will be many more days where I will have to work around the clock in order to establish my business.

I hope that this will be a temporary process and the income will flow in from Eat Like A Vegan and my Healthy Living Consultations.

I have faith that things will get better, soon, and we wont have to fret about whether or not you can run around and drop food on the floor here and there.

Grandma has been gracious enough to let us stay here for the month, but our time here is coming to an end soon. We have to find a place to live.

Luckily, Daddy has a job interview on Wednesday, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that he gets it. That would be so awesome, because he has been working part-time. But, we shall see what the future holds.

I am pushing through, applying to jobs, and continuing my efforts.

I really hate the thought of having to leave you for 50 hours a week, so I am trying my best not to have to, baby girl.

Now that it nears 5 a.m., it’s time for Mami to get some sleep.

Everyday of my life,

Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:
In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Day 29 – Somersaults

Dear Little Acrobat of Mine,

After my interview with Tasleem Jamila of Radio Islam where she and I discussed living gmo-free, supporting local farms, and my services, you and I had a ton of fun this afternoon.

I took you on a trip to the backyard and brought you to stand in the sun for a little while.

Afterwards, we came back home, and I played with you in bed. I would place the blanket over my head and you would lift it up and laugh so hard.

Then, we could go under the blanket together. You would giggle and put your feet in my face telling me to kiss your toes.

I tickled you as you laughed and laughed some more.

We sang capoeira songs. Now, you know two songs – la la la eu and oi sim sim sim oi nao nao nao. You sing them on your own, clap your hands, and then make me join along.

you and Daddy doing capoeira

During one of these moments, you did your very first somersault, today!

I am so proud of how athletic you are at only 18 months old.

You are flourishing so quickly and getting so smart.

Of course, you’re still my baby girl as you demand kisses and cuddles.

You always want to fall asleep in my arms and stay there the whole time you’re napping.

I am usually happy to oblige.

I have to breastfeed you, now, so I have to go.

With a boobie in your mouth,

Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:
In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Day 28 – Prisoner of Love

To My Love,

Hello, my sweet. You are rest, right now, and I am right besides you. I have a super long to-do list, but, even in your sleep, you want all of my attention.

Today has been an odd day for me. I was up much of last night working on my second book, editing my website, setting up the course material for DDFS, and I didnt get to sleep until about 8 a.m.

I woke up around 10:30 am because I had a meeting scheduled with Francesca, who has been a guiding light these past 6 months. She’s helped turn me into a more competent business woman. Today, she and I talked about my course design, workshops, and pricing. She’s been super helpful in helping me turn my skills into a business.

20131012-214728.jpg

You’ve been clingy much of the day. I am sure that you can feel how preoccupied I am with thoughts in order to secure our survival.

Because I have been so busy trying to build my businesses, I am just going to lay here next to you while you sleep and comfort you.

You’re more important to me than all of the money in the world. Mami is just trying to secure our financial future.

This series is coming to a close in just a few more days, but I have decided to keep writing to you at least a few times a week.

I cannot wait until you’re old enough to read these letters.

Every day,
Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:
In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Day 27 – Perfection is Myth

To My Little Love,

I was having a discussion about perfection with Annie Sanchez from Debt Free Like Annie.  She told me that she likes that I set goals and work towards them without obsessing over making every single detail perfect.

My response to her can be summed up in this quote:

“My farts will never smell like mangoes.”

The phrase just slipped out while I was writing to her, and while amusing, it gets to the heart of what I was trying to explain.

We often obsess over things being perfect. We want the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect body, the perfect meal, the perfect life experience, but it doesn’t exist.

If anything, it is the flaws and imperfections that provide detail and render life beautiful.

I learned many moons ago that my pursuit of perfection would, literally, make me go crazy.

I decided I would get my doctorate degree when I was roughly 10 years old. From that moment on, I worked super hard at everything. I joined almost every after-school program I could throughout middle and high school, and found myself at Barnard College of Columbia University where I pursued education with the same fervor I did as a child.

At the end of that pursuit, I found myself with few friends and on the verge of insanity when, upon graduation, I was unemployed, back at my mother’s house, and had to make that terrible trip to the Department of Social Services and apply for food stamps.

I cried the entire walk there. I cried quietly in the waiting room. I cried after I applied, and yet again when I got home.

I continued to send my resume and landed a job, again, which I worked at very hard, but the pressure that I had placed upon myself to live a life I had dreamed of when I was 10 years old caused me to have severe panic attacks.

I couldn’t even keep the job, which was a high paying research analyst position in Wall Street, because my entire existence became consumed with panic attacks.

Perfectionism often comes with the consequence of high levels of anxiety.  The more pressure you put on yourself on having a particular item be perfect, the more your level of anxiety increases until you are in a state of panic.

Once you are used to being anxious most (or all) of the time, your body transitions faster and faster to the flight or fight mode activated by anxiety.

I began to unconsciously hyperventilate all of the time.

My battle with panic attacks resulted in an extreme fear of death. The more I tried to control my environment, the worse my panic attacks got. This battle lasted about a year.

And, then, I had a breakthrough.

One day, as I laid in bed having one of the worst panic attacks of my life which convinced me that I would die, a thought occurred to me – just relax Melinda.

I took a deep breath, said La illaha il Allah, closed my eyes, and decided that I would allow myself to die if I was going to.

The next day, I woke up.

I felt refreshed. Maybe, even renewed.

When I gave up the illusion of control and my anxiety over dying before that perfect moment I envisioned in my head, the panic attack stopped.

I have had very few, if any, panic attacks since that day.

That moment taught me that life would never be exactly what I wanted it to be, and insisting that life be some ideal version will only cause me anxiety, fear, and imbalance.

Good mental health is not about life being perfect. It is not about always being happy. It is not about everything always falling into place exactly how you want it.

Instead, you can only be a truly healthy person when you learn how to cope with the difficulty around you, how to make the best of it, and how to appreciate what you have.

Letting go of the twin illusions of perfection and control does not mean that you don’t work towards the betterment of your life. It doesn’t mean that you half-ass things and don’t put your all into them.

Rather, it means that you become even more responsible for your own actions, because you have a deeper understanding of your own accountability.

I believe in being able to shape things through my actions.

Things will never be perfect, but they will be what you need to grow and expand into a full human being.

Always by your side,

Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.

 


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Becoming a Healthier Me

Health, to me, is holistic. It includes your body, yes, but also your mind, heart, and spirit.

Physical health will quickly deteriorate if you are experiencing anxiety, financial difficulty, stress, and fear.

This year, I have made a lot of gains (or losses) when it comes to my weight.  I went from 162 pounds post-partum to 129 pounds, but I haven’t been as healthy as I want to be.

In Progress

In Progress

Emotional eating has been a really big struggle for me this year. I tend to turn to food when I am anxious or overwhelmed with my situation.  But, the tips that Yaritza, Lori, and I came up with have been helping me overcome emotional eating.

Now, I want to make greater strides for my mental health – end my anxious mind.

Exercise is an essential part of that.

I began doing yoga this month, and, mostly, for the spiritual aspect of it.  Holding each stance forces us to quiet our minds and be at peace with the limitations of our own bodies.

Limitations, have, especially, been hard for me this year, because I am used to being strong and capable of taking care of myself.

A car accident in May left me with spinal damage, and I came to discover that I have nerve damage in my left hand.

The goal, now, is to strengthen the nerve in my hand and re-align my spine, so that I can continue my journey towards physical fitness.

Yoga will strengthen my core and improve my flexibility, so that I can do what I really want to do – CAPOEIRA!

I have started doing capoeira, again, but I have lost a lot of my stamina and endurance due to the months that I had to take off from practice. I am also not physically able to do a full range of motions without being in pain later.  I have to be super careful with all that I do and ensure that I do not get hit.  It’s been frustrating that I cannot even play the pandeiro for more than a few minutes because my hand weakens super fast, now.

I really want to go back to the basics of capoeira and re-learn the movements.

So many capoeiristas are in a rush with their careers. For me, I just love the strum of the berimbau and the total feeling of connectedness to the universe that I feel while I am swaying in the roda.

Capoeira is a place of peace for me, which replenishes my mind and spirit while toning my body.

My mental health is my primary concern, right now, because I want to be a conscious parent while raising my little girl.

I know that eating well, exercising, meditation, and self-control are the foundation that I need to be a good, sane, stable mother and a good role model.

On the physical front, I really want to get toned – like super toned.

My original goal prior to my car accident was to compete in a Fitness competition in the Bikini Category.  I had started preparing for it, and had to quickly halt the process.

The doctors have put me on severe no weightlifting restrictions, right now, though, due to herniated discs in my spine, but I am convinced that I will be able to tone my body without necessarily lifting weights.

As my financial and living situation improve, which I know they will, soon, I will really be able to dedicate myself to the craft of bodybuilding and represent vegan bodybuilders and Latinas on that stage.

I have to remember that every meal I consume will either heighten or hamper my chances at strutting myself on that stage.

I want to body build, because I just want to see what my body is fully capable of.  I want to feel like a warrior – strong and confident.

A long time ago, I dedicated myself to being a lot more than just average, and I am on that journey.

Being a #healthyme is vital to being a #successfulme.


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Confronting Mommy Guilt

I never really felt loved as a child.  Perhaps, this is the sentiment of many middle children – the older kid gets the attention, and when it’s your turn, another kid is born.

As excited as I was to be a big sister when my baby brother was born, I felt cheated  by the lack of attention my mother was able to afford me.

Naturally, then, when my daughter was born, I, often, feared that she would feel as unloved as I did growing up.

I felt like I had to spend every waking moment of my day by her side, and needing a break or leaving her with someone else was selfish.  After all, I birthed her. She was MY responsibility, right? And, I wanted her to feel loved!

Regardless of how far feminism has come, women are still the primary parents, in my experience, during the early stages of child development.  I’ve discussed many times why I believe this to be the case.

Some reasons are:

1. Many men have not been socialized to be caregivers.

2. Many men feel incompetent taking care of young children.

3. Some men just feel like it’s the mother’s responsibility.

4. Some men aren’t present.

5. Even when the dad is present and wants to help, the baby wants mommy, anyways.

All of the reading and mommy blogs do not prepare you for the transition from living as an individual to having a small human being be 100% reliant on you for everything at ALL times of the day.

What does this really mean?

Being a mom is HARD, and it’s a lot of work.

The days of peeing and/or pooping in peace are long gone. Much of your spontaneity is lost, and your sense of adventure is limited by your need to always be prepared to meet the needs/demands of your baby.

Naturally, after 16 months of nonstop, around the clock baby time, I began to feel worn out.

Well, let me back up a little bit.  It was not being a mom that made me feel worn out. It was juggling starting my own business (Organic Melinda), writing and editing L.I.V².E.,  marketing, applying to PhD programs, and learning that I had spinal injuries ON TOP of being a mom that overwhelmed me.

So, a few days ago, after not sleeping for a few weeks to get the book together, I had a little break down.  I had to work around the clock and through the baby’s naps and sleep time to complete the project. I mean, seriously,  I am blogging now at 5:30 a.m. while my daughter plays with my hair to soothe herself back to sleep.

I called my sister crying because I, actually, (God Forbid) doubted my decision to be a mother for a moment.

I had a particularly rough day.

My daughter’s father was out the entire day, and I was trying to listen in on a workshop about how to better build an internet company.  At the same time, I was communicating with people about how we could market L.I.V².E.and my daughter was having one of her “mommy hold me all day, every day” moments.

So, there I was, sitting on a computer chair, listening to a talk, emailing, and I had my daughter in my arms.

On top of all of that, I discovered that I have nerve damage in my left arm a couple of weeks ago, which sucks doubly, because I am left-handed.  I had received physical therapy in my arm to start healing the nerve damage.

And, of course, my daughter in all of her toddler glory decided that she did not want to lean against my chest. NOPE. She was going to put all of her body weight on my left arm, which was causing me excruciating pain.

So, once again – I was sitting at my computer desk, listening to a chat on web marketing, sending emails, and holding my daughter who was causing me a ton of pain.

I tried to reposition her like 20 times, before I just got pissed off, and I put her on the floor.

She was letting out her banshee, toddler, how dare you not hold me screams.  Just non-stop, and the exhausted human side of me just wanted to scream, SHUT THE EFF UP!

But, I didn’t.

Instead, I took out my frustration on the lecture by turning it off and cried with her. Begging her to please just stop crying.

Mommy is trying to hold you, babeh, but you’re causing mommy a lot of pain. Just calm down, my love. Please. I beg you. You are hurting momma, and that’s not nice. 

I mean,  there I was trying to rationalize with a 17 month old begging her to please relax while I, myself, was crying.

That’s what predated the call to my sister.

Please, take this kid. I cannot take it any more. Right now, I wish I had an….

What a shitty thing to say about the one person who I love most in the entire world.

I cannot even type it out, because I know that I do not feel that way. I know that while I advise women to please take their “me” time and not try to be a super hero, I was still trying to be one myself.

I cracked, and I felt and still feel like shit about the horrible thing that I said.

And, so, here I am blogging about it, because I know I am not the only woman who has said some shitty, shitty comment in a moment of utter and complete stress.

I knew my sister probably judged me, and thought I was a total bitch for my comment.

But, let’s be honest – being a working mom is really fugging hard.

I, literally, forwent showers last week, just because I couldn’t get to certain tasks and I would just pass out on the couch.

Following the terrible statement and the deep feeling of shame and guilt that I could ever utter such a thing about my daughter, who I love more than life, I realized that I really just needed to relax.

I took too much on too fast, due to the urgency of our financial situation and the fact that we are on the verge of homelessness.

I have to build Organic Melinda. I have to find a way to make the money that I need for my security deposit and to make sure we have a decent apartment to live in.

So, the solution – stop trying to do everything myself ALL at once. It’s not going to happen. I am just going to be frustrated, and my beautiful daughter is going to pick up on my energy and be antsy, too, which is probably why she wanted me to hold her nonstop all week.

Now, I am making sure to implement some rules for myself to ensure that I never utter a phrase like that, again.

1. Stop trying to do it all AT THE SAME TIME.

2. Ask for help.

3. It’s okay to cry.

4. Ask for help.

5. Put the work away and spend real quality time with my baby.

6. Ask for more help.

7. Create a work day for myself – no more around the clock tweeting, instagraming, etc.

8. Have faith.

9. Ask for help, again.

10. It’s okay to choose sleep when the only options are sleep or shower.

11. Talk to friends and family when frustrated.

12. It’s okay to need a break from your baby – I actually need one to regroup.

13. Remember that I am building Organic Melinda to secure our financial future.

14. Put the damn phone/computer down for a few hours a day.

15. I will not accomplish EVERYTHING, today.

I have to forgive myself for my flaws, and stop putting so much pressure on myself.  I’ve begun by asking my mother to baby sit my daughter so that I can have some “me” time, which is a super big step for me.

I am setting up 1 item I want to accomplish for my business each day and working exclusively on that item.

Today, I put away the cell phone and computer and spent quality time with my daughter. Just the two of us – no interruptions.  It resulted in us passing out on the couch together.

I asked my mom to baby sit for a couple of hours and I went to the gym.

The bottom line is that if you are exhausted and overwhelmed, you’re probably not going to be in the right state of mind to provide for your child’s needs.

I am giving myself permission to take a break from my mommy duties when I need it.

I am forgiving myself for that horrible moment and that horrible feeling and that horrible statement.

I am taking it one day at a time, one task at a time, one moment at a time.

My daughter will be a healthy, happy human being IF I am a healthy and happy mother.

So, say fuck it to the mommy guilt.

Go for a walk, and BREATHE.


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8 Tips on How to Overcome Emotional Eating


In a previous post, I discussed the causes of and ways to overcome emotional eating through a discussion with Marriage and Family Therapist, Yaritza Zayas and Lori Brannen-Graham, Certified Personal Trainer and Registered Holistic Nutritionist.

Below, I have taken out a section from that post to facilitate readers in finding the tips section.

If you or anyone you know struggles with emotional eating, please try the tips below.

1. Practice Mindful Eating

“Use hunger as your guide and eat until you are comfortably full. Practicing mindful eating can bring your focus and awareness to the food directly in front of you. If mindful eating becomes a habit it will become harder to revert back to emotional eating,” advises Lori.

2. Stay Hydrated

In our phone interview, Yaritza explained to me that our body signals are the same for thirst and hunger. Many times people confuse the two sensations.  If you have eaten in the past hour or so, and, all of the sudden, you are very hungry, drink some water.  If it satiates your desire to eat, then you were thirsty, not hungry.  Staying hydrated also helps you to feel fuller longer.  Most people require their weigh divided by 2 in ounces of water per day.  For example, I weight 129 lbs, so I would need at least 65 oz of water a day.

3. Recognize  Your Triggers

It is important to figure out what triggers your desire to eat or over-eat when you are not hungry.  Once you figure out what is causing you to eat when you are not hungry, then you can begin to stop.

Lori states, “When you are in a moment of wanting to soothe yourself with food, find something else to do. Replace that habit with something new.”

4. Keep a Journal

It is good to keep a journal of your feelings and a log of your food.  By keeping track of your feelings, you can begin to identify the emotions that trigger binging, explained Yaritza.  Keeping a food log makes you accountable to what you are putting into your body.  Keeping a journal has helped me a lot in my own battle against emotional eating.

5. Exercise

Yaritza and Lori are very physically active women.  They exercise almost every day and both commented on the importance of exercise as a tool to cope with stress, anxiety, and other emotions that lead to emotional eating.  Exercise, also, releases feel good hormones into your bloodstream, which can curb negative emotions which may trigger food cravings.

6. Eat Enough

It might seem ironic to suggest that you eat more food when you are struggling with emotional eating, but I found that feelings of deprivation are a major factor in emotional eating.  Make sure to eat high quality, healthy food, and keep healthy snacks around you.  If you are not eating enough to sustain your body and activity level, you will definitely feel unwell, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

7. Switch Out Sweet Treats for Healthier Ones

When I find myself wanting to eat because I feel stressed or anxious, it is hard for me to find junk food in my household.  I really avoid it like the plague, because I know that the momentary feeling of goodness and satisfaction will soon give way to my stomach hurting and feelings of regrets and anger towards myself.

So, instead of feeding my emotions cupcakes and cookies, all I can find in my refrigerator are carrots, hummus, and fruits and vegetables. While this does not directly solve the problem of emotional eating, it serves as a baby-step in the process.

8. Seek Professional Help

It is always a good idea to speak to a therapist or psychologist when you are an emotional eater.  Therapy can provide you with a tool-kit in order to better manage your triggers.

Resources

If you have any more questions on this post or any of my previous posts, please send an email to organicmelinda@gmail.com.

To learn more about emotional eating and how to cope, click the links below.

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

http://www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org/


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The Causes of Emotional Eating and Tips to Stop

With commercials and advertisements constantly telling us to eat, eat, and eat some more, many of us feel hungry all of our waking hours. Yet, what often follows food advertisements is an onslaught of more advertisements about diet and weight loss.

We are constantly being told through media images that we must eat to enjoy life, to be cool, to hang out, BUT we must be fit, muscular, and thin while we do it.  These mixed messages often leave us in a state of confusion.  You add the fact that food is tied to so many of our identities and cultural memories, and eating can often become a blanket of comfort, a tool to deal with pain, and an escape from anxiety.

In this post, I will share information on the causes of emotional eating through my own experiences and those of Marriage and Family Therapist, Yaritza Zayas and Lori Brannen-Graham, a Personal Trainer and Holistic Nutritionist.

Defining Emotional Eating

Yartiza defines emotional eating as, “The use of food (any food) to cope with a feeling state that is overwhelming. This does include feelings that are categorized as “good” or “happy” (i.e. pride, excitement, etc) not limited to “negative” feelings (i.e. sad, upset, anger, etc).”

Lori states, “Emotional eating can be defined as using food to either comfort oneself in times of stress or ‘self-medicating’ through food.”

According to webmd.com, “Eating to feed a feeling, and not a growling stomach, is emotional eating.”

Unpacking the Definition

In other words, we all experience emotional eating.

Emotional eating is not a problem that is only experienced by people who are characterized as over-weight. It is, also, not a problem that is only experienced by women.

Having a celebratory drink or slice of cake after running a marathon or getting a job promotion is a form of emotional eating; as is the stereotypical image of a girl downing a pint of ice-cream and a box of chocolate after a break-up.

Emotional eating can also be seen in fitness models and bodybuilders eating weekly “cheat meals” to deal with feelings of deprivation after a week of strict calorie-counting.

Many people eat when they are bored; this, too, is a form of emotional eating.

When Emotional Eating Becomes a Concern

Celebratory eating is, generally speaking, not a problem if it is not excessive.

The concern with emotional eating rises when it becomes a cycle that an individual cannot break him/herself out of or an individual feels like s/he has little to no control in stopping.

If you eat, and then experience feelings of guilt, anger, or frustration, it is a good idea to ask yourself why you just ate.  Were you hungry or did other emotions spark your desire to eat?

In our interview, Yaritza and I discussed food as an addiction.  Like any drug addiction, food can serve to mediate anxieties, fears, feelings of worthlessness, and can make you feel good.  It has been well-documented that sugar has addictive properties akin to cocaine.

Emotional eating can also be form of self-sabotage and an immediate outlet to cope with unwanted feelings. Survivors of physical and sexual abuse are known to resort to emotional eating as a way to make themselves what they perceive to be physically unattractive or as a way to cope with feelings of emptiness or pain.

So, if every time you are sad, anxious, or angry, you run to the refrigerator, you are probably an emotional eater.

 Causes of Emotional Eating

Emotional eating can start at a very young age, such as when children receive food as a reward for good behavior.  In my conversation with Yaritza, we discussed the prevalence of this behavior in the Latino community. While treats as rewards, in of themselves, are not a problem, they create a connection between good feelings and food, which can last a lifetime.

Here is a free-list of other factors that cause and/or contribute to emotional eating:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • a break-up
  • anger
  • sadness
  • lack of impulse control
  • wanting comfort
  • inability of coping with and handling difficult emotional states
  • feelings of deprivation
  • eating below caloric requirements
  • boredom
  • psychological difficulties or mental illness
  • having an eating disorder

Each of these factors can work together to create an environment conducive of emotional eating.

Personal Stories

Lori shares her difficulties with emotional eating when she was a bodybuilder a few years ago.

 “I had developed ritualistic eating habits and patterns that consequently led to some health issues and the feelings associated with emotional eating. I would restrict myself all week knowing that I had a planned ‘cheat’ on the weekend. During the week it’s all I could think about….I dreamt of chocolate. It was always the same disappointment each time, though. I would spend the following day lethargic and cranky, promising myself to not binge until the following weekend. I led this lifestyle for so long it just became normal to me.”   

While Lori struggled with feelings of self-deprivation and extreme calorie-counting to maintain a competition-ready physique, Yartiza shared her emotional triggers.

“I have battled with overeating and my trigger was anger. I have a quick temper and to avoid getting violent or to calm the anger feelings I’d overindulge to get so stuffed that I couldn’t move and essentially  become helpless and a non-threat.”

I have also struggled with emotional eating as a way to mediate anxiety, stress, and even as a way to stake claim over my body.  Perhaps, the last part was more triggered by anger.  In a previous post, I shared my struggles with having a positive view of my body.  I discussed some of the difficulties that arose from constant name calling, and my mother policing everything that I ate.  At times, I would eat just to defy her.

Anxious and stress-related eating began when I was in college. I had to work multiple part-time jobs while going to college full-time and maintaining a high GPA.  During mid-terms and final exams, I would sit down with a giant bag of chips, a large container of salsa, and a jug of purple soda.  All of the junk food would provide me with a sugar rush that would keep me awake long enough to study and finish papers. However, I would feel the damaging effects of eating so much and so unhealthy for days after these events, especially when I would binge eat to stay awake for 3-4 days straight.  

Dangers of Emotional Eating

Emotional eating, for many, is a coping mechanism to deal with difficult times, but it can actually cause further difficulties.

Certified Personal Trainer & Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Lori explains, “There are many dangers associated with emotional eating, including (but not limited to) many psychological troubles such as self-loathing, guilt, frustration, disappointment, shame, and/or feelings of failure. These feelings can perpetuate stress and keep the cycle on-going. Emotional eating can be habit forming and long term can cause metabolic damage. It can also lead to yo-yo dieting (to compensate for an emotional food binge) and lead to major body weight fluctuations. “

Family Therapist, Yaritza asserts that emotional eating can lead to “lifestyle diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. [and it can be] linked to other addictive behaviors (not limited to high risk behaviors like drug use, for example).”

Another danger of emotional eating is that individuals might not learn other ways to cope with difficult emotions or times.  It is important to have healthy ways of coping with life’s difficulties and celebrating good times without turning to food.

Tips on How to Stop

Now, that we have an understanding of the factors that lead to emotional eating and the potential dangers, here are 8 tips shared by Lori, Yaritza, and I on how to overcome emotional eating.

1. Practice Mindful Eating

“Use hunger as your guide and eat until you are comfortably full. Practicing mindful eating can bring your focus and awareness to the food directly in front of you. If mindful eating becomes a habit it will become harder to revert back to emotional eating,” advises Lori.

2. Stay Hydrated

In our phone interview, Yaritza explained to me that our body signals are the same for thirst and hunger. Many times people confuse the two sensations.  If you have eaten in the past hour or so, and, all of the sudden, you are very hungry, drink some water.  If it satiates your desire to eat, then you were thirsty, not hungry.  Staying hydrated also helps you to feel fuller longer.  Most people require their weigh divided by 2 in ounces of water per day.  For example, I weight 129 lbs, so I would need at least 65 oz of water a day.

3. Recognize  Your Triggers

It is important to figure out what triggers your desire to eat or over-eat when you are not hungry.  Once you figure out what is causing you to eat when you are not hungry, then you can begin to stop.

Lori states, “When you are in a moment of wanting to soothe yourself with food, find something else to do. Replace that habit with something new.”

4. Keep a Journal

It is good to keep a journal of your feelings and a log of your food.  By keeping track of your feelings, you can begin to identify the emotions that trigger binging, explained Yaritza.  Keeping a food log makes you accountable to what you are putting into your body.  Keeping a journal has helped me a lot in my own battle against emotional eating.

5. Exercise

Yaritza and Lori are very physically active women.  They exercise almost every day and both commented on the importance of exercise as a tool to cope with stress, anxiety, and other emotions that lead to emotional eating.  Exercise, also, releases feel good hormones into your bloodstream, which can curb negative emotions which may trigger food cravings.

6. Eat Enough

It might seem ironic to suggest that you eat more food when you are struggling with emotional eating, but I found that feelings of deprivation are a major factor in emotional eating.  Make sure to eat high quality, healthy food, and keep healthy snacks around you.  If you are not eating enough to sustain your body and activity level, you will definitely feel unwell, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

7. Switch Out Sweet Treats for Healthier Ones

When I find myself wanting to eat because I feel stressed or anxious, it is hard for me to find junk food in my household.  I really avoid it like the plague, because I know that the momentary feeling of goodness and satisfaction will soon give way to my stomach hurting and feelings of regrets and anger towards myself.

So, instead of feeding my emotions cupcakes and cookies, all I can find in my refrigerator are carrots, hummus, and fruits and vegetables. While this does not directly solve the problem of emotional eating, it serves as a baby-step in the process.

8. Seek Professional Help

It is always a good idea to speak to a therapist or psychologist when you are an emotional eater.  Therapy can provide you with a tool-kit in order to better manage your triggers.

Resources

If you have any more questions on this post or any of my previous posts, please send an email to organicmelinda@gmail.com.

To learn more about emotional eating and how to cope, click the links below.

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

http://www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org/


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A Body Under Constant Scrutiny: My Struggle with Loving the Body I Am In

Because I have been on a 20 year journey towards healthy living and eating, some people think that I have perfect eating habits and that my self-image is always at an all-time high.  I am writing this blog post to let my readers know that I understand your struggles with weight, body image, self-loathing, emotional eating, food deprivation, and so much more.  I also understand your journey towards self-acceptance, self-love, and the painful, and I mean painful, work that it takes to overcome the trauma from your childhood.

kid me

me at age 6

My struggle with body image issues began in the third grade.  After a summer of hanging out with some neighborhood girls, whom had recently traveled to their home country, I wound up having a head infested with foreign lice.  My mom and aunts tried every home remedy and commercial brand de-lousing product they could find, but the suckers just would NOT die.

“Córtale el pelo,” my aunt suggested, and cut my hair my mother did.  I had all of 2 inches of hair on my head, which would look awesome on a lot of chicks, but a prepubescent me looked like a hot mess to other people.  That school year was, particularly, brutal as every day boys would ask if I was a girl, and I would have to keep asserting that I was.  It was frustrating to have my sex questioned just because of a haircut.

The fourth grade was a walk in the park compared to what I would experience in the sixth grade – the year I struggled with anorexia.  I had some prepubescent chubbiness, or so that was the perception.  I just had a big butt compared to my 11 year old classmates and I was short.  Apparently, that made me fat.  And by age 11, I was already a vegetarian.

I remember quite viscerally all of those terrible experiences.  People making jokes about my food.  You shouldn’t eat that, Melinda, you’re already fat. How are you so fat if you’re a vegetarian? Give me your food; you don’t need that.  And, then, there was that day, when Robert, this giant asshole of a kid, pinned me down to the playground floor and smeared bologna out of a garbage can all over my face while yelling, “You know you’re hungry, so eat it, fatty.”

Would I have had the strength to actually eat when I was hungry in front of other kids? Would I have had the strength to eat at home?  I wish I could say that the bullying stopped when I walked into the house. But it did not.  Not at all.  My mother’s favorite moniker for me was butter ball, and she made a comment about EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING that I put into my mouth.  She had her own pathologies and struggles with weight, and over the years, she apologized for all of the emotional and psychological trauma that she caused me with those comments.

But alas, I was being ridiculed in school EVERY single day, and then going home to: Don’t eat that, Melinda, because it’s going to make you fat.  If you keep eating, you’re going to get fat. Come here, butterball.

I was being PUNISHED for being hungry every time I ate, and the saddest part of it all was that I was an incredibly healthy kid who was ALWAYS on the honor roll.  With all of my accomplishments, all that anyone could see was their perceived inadequacies about my body.

Choosing Between Anorexia and Bulimia

Somehow, I had picked up on the existence of bulimia and anorexia as a kid, and I thought about which one I should be in order to lose weight.  Yes, you read right, as an 11 year old child, I debated the pros and cons between being bulimic and anorexic.

At first, I tried bulimia.  I thought it would be beneficial to eat something, and then, puke it up.  I tried, but I just could not get myself to vomit. I remember sitting there feeling overly stuffed and defeated. I used my finger, shoved the tip of my toothbrush down my tongue, and nothing would come back up.  I also really hated vomiting, so I decided that bulimia was not for me.

Anorexia, then, seemed like the easier choice, because I would, then, just not have to eat. I didn’t need to worry about the vomiting and cleaning it up. I didn’t have to worry about explaining it to people, either.  It was, perhaps, too easy to get away with it.  At that age, I usually ate breakfast and lunch in school. I would skip breakfast and I just gave away my lunches to other kids and went to the playground.  When I got home, my mom was usually too busy tending to my little brother to notice if I had eaten.  Or, I would lie when she asked if I was hungry. I would tell her that I ate late in school, at my friend’s house, or that I just ate something else.  She was never the type of parent to force you to sit at a table and eat your broccoli.  So, I didn’t eat much at all.

Once in a while, I would drink water, and I would eat a very small amount to calm the pain in my stomach.  I started losing weight, and, right around the same time, my boobs came in! Yay for boobs!

So, there I was, my waist thinning, my breast growing, and I began to feel so confident.  Everywhere I went people were so excited about my weight loss.  That’s got to be the worst part about having an eating disorder – all of the comments about how awesome and beautiful you look, NOW. They implicitly write a rejection of your total self in their praise of your body while you are standing there hungry and dizzy.

My struggle with total anorexia did not last very long.  I started to get really sick. I had massive dizzy spells and almost fell down the stairs at school a number of times.  I was having incredible stomach pain, and I wound up in the hospital.  I am not sure that the doctors caught on to the fact that I had an eating disorder.  I was always too smart for my own good, and I could lie myself out of anything as a child.  The doctor demanded that I eat or I would get even sicker.  Afraid for my life, I ate.

Still Struggling 

But my relationship with food has always been a struggle.  I will admit that I have had what I call my anorexic days.  When I feel bloated, I will not eat, at times.  My daughter’s birth changed a lot of that, but I still struggle with food.

And, now that I am 29 years old and the mother of a daughter, I wish I could say that my body was no longer under constant scrutiny.

A year after my daughter’s birth, I began to focus back on myself, and work towards getting in shape.  This time, it was for me.  I had lost a lot of my muscle mass and just felt out of shape. I wanted to be able to run, play, and have energy.  I also decided that I wanted to try bodybuilding.

booty

I changed my diet, went to the gym 6 times a week for 2 hours a day, and I began to lose weight.  My pre-partum weight was 150 pounds.  At 9 months gestation, I was 176 lbs.  Immediately post-partum, I was 162 lbs.  After working out and eating well, I weighed 129 lbs.

Once, again, people lauded me for my efforts towards personal health and fitness, but then, came the other comments.  Damn, yo, you lost your ass.  Where did your ass go? Your boobs got way too small.  You’re getting TOO skinny, so stop losing weight.

I mean REALLY? What the fuck, people!

Body Shaming

Women’s bodies are under constant scrutiny.  When you are thin, people tell you to go eat a steak.  When you are thick, you need to put down the fork.  If you’re muscular, you are too manly.

Post-partum bodies are under a special kind of scrutiny.  Do your tits sag? Do you have ugly stretch marks? Is your vagina back to normal?

Why should I even be asked these questions or have an answer prepared for them?  They are embedded with judgments that tell women that they must always have the body of a 14 year old girl.

The standards of beauty that women are expected to adhere to are just unrealistic – big tits, tiny waist, and a giant ass.  Those proportions are only possible with the assistance of spanx or surgery.

I just feel frustrated, and I wonder: Why do women have to constantly apologize for their bodies? And why does this start at such a young age?

I won’t pretend that I love my body every day of my life, because that would be an outright lie, especially, as I adjust to the changes post-partum.  But the shaming just needs to stop.

Most of my meals are healthy, and I love to exercise. But that is who I am.  Sometimes, I am a couch potato, and other times, I want to run 5 miles.

Learning to love myself has been a long journey, and my body is still there to be judged in private and public spaces, constantly.  This is true for all of us.  I find myself judging other women’s bodies, too, and for that I openly apologize.

Our goal should be towards striving to be healthy – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.  What good is a thin body, if your soul is dying inside of it?