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Cannot stop my food "issues"


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I need help, advice, a pat on the head.... something.  A bit of back story.... 3 years ago I did my first Whole30.  Loved it, felt great, did very well, kept going.  Over about 6-8 months I lost 36lbs.   Kept it off within 5 or so pounds of that for another year or so.   Then came some major stress, and all the old habits started coming back - mainly my urge to put something in my mouth when I am stressed.  I've done a couple of resets, did ok, but not great.  Today I'm 10lbs heavier than I've ever been in my life - 12 lbs heavier than I was before my first Whole30.  Depressed, stressed, feeling like a failure.  Again. 

I want to start over, but I need to stop my stress eating, my boredom eating, my depression eating... you get the idea.  What can I do - particularly if I'm at work - that isn't eating every time my job throws me a zinger - which is multiple times a day!     The first hour after I get home from work is another huge trigger.  Kind of like the after school snack I used to get everyday as a kid. If I don't go straight home I do better, but then I'm probably shopping.  That's exchanging overeating for overspending.  

Help!  What worked for you?  I keep reading all these stories about people whose food issues were resolved.  I want to be one of those people! 

Thank you in advance.


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First, the biggest thing I'd recommend -- and you may have already figured this out last time you did Whole30 -- is to make sure you really make your meals match the template. It's a lot easier to not eat if you're not hungry, and it's a lot easier to know you're not hungry if you know you just ate a big meal with plenty of vegetables, protein and healthy fats. Don't be afraid to eat enough at meals to keep you satisfied for 4-5 hours at a time.

Can you get up from your desk and walk around a bit? That's a good option if you can -- go fill up your water bottle, go outside for a few minutes, stand up and stretch, if you have something you need to tell another employee, go to their desk and tell them rather than emailing or calling. If you have something you do every day, like check the mailbox, or take a stack of papers to another part of the office, something that you have to get up and go do, try to save that for a time when you need a break.

When you get home, start a new habit. Take a few minutes to change into comfy clothes and fuzzy slippers. Sit down and journal about your day. Meditate or pray. Stretch. Do a light workout, walk around the block. Work on a hobby. Find something that isn't food, that gives you a sense of ending your work day and moving on to your personal time. 

I know there are people who do overcome bad food habits. I also know that for many of us, it's not a 30-day process, it's something that is ongoing. For myself, sometimes I do pretty well, and then sometimes I really, really don't. It's okay to mess up. I would be amazed if someone came here and said they did a Whole30, and suddenly every bad habit they'd ever had just went away completely, and they were eating perfectly from that moment on. That's not how it works for the vast majority of people. We have a lifetime of bad habits to overcome, it's going to take a while to change them.

You might like the book Food Freedom Forever, it's all about how to live the rest of your life after Whole30. There are also blog posts that you can read for free about life after Whole30 that might be helpful as well, you can find many of those linked here:  https://whole30.com/step-four-finished

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@ElizK68 I think @ShannonM816's advice is really, really good. Being able to think about your habits in a nonjudgmental, compassionate, constructive way is key.

For me at work, mid-morning break was a big issue.  I got into the habit of wanting a snack break around 10 am. Sometimes I actually need a snack, mostly I just want a break, I want a second coffee and a sweet thing, I want five minutes to myself, I want a legitimate reason to stop and have a break.  So I realized I should just take the break every day without the snack! Ten minutes, at 10 am! I find a place to be alone, I set a timer and turn my phone off so nobody can get at me, and do a two-minute breathing meditation, and I do some small act of 'self care' like washing my face (I work outside, so that feels refreshing) or stretching. It is a 'treat,' and it is just what I need, and it's actually way more of a rest than hurriedly eating a candy bar.

I think taking some time to think creatively and realistically about habits you'd like to replace your emotional or habitual eating with could be really helpful. I tried doing yoga after work every day, but that was NOT what I needed! I didn't need to push myself through an obligatory task for one more minute. What I actually need when I walk in the door at the end of the day is to lie down on the floor and be alone for a couple minutes and just be aware of the shift between working and not-working. And then I stretch a few minutes. Nothing 'productive,' just ask myself 'what do you need right now?' and do that (usually it's just sitting in forward bend and resting, wiggling a little). This replaces the cracking open of a beer and bag of chips and plopping down in front of the TV for me. It's a pretty simple habit: lie on the floor, sit up and ask myself what I need from a stretch, and stretch. But it gives my mind the time to shift 'home,' and it's exactly the kind of thing I know I can do. And maybe sometimes I still want to go watch TV after that and zone out for a bit, but I allow myself to do that, just removed the mindless eating part. It might be important not to try to replace your emotional/boredom eating with productive activities--it was for me, anyway--or it feels like you're always trying to 'be good' and never slip up and just REST. Clearly, what you need is to just REST, you need time where you're off, you just need to find a method that is actually restful, and that's not eating for the sake of it.

I wish you the best!

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