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This comes from a reader who would prefer to remain anonymous:

Question-

I wondered if you could give me some advice. Sometimes when I feel distressed or tired, I find myself having food fantasies. They are very intense and vivid where I imagine myself eating high-calorie food like cake and other sweet, fatty, high-carb foods. I imagine the taste and the pleasure it would give me. I’m not sure what to do when I have these fantasies because they make me want the food.
To give you some context, I used to be 17kg/37pounds overweight. I recently lost the weight over a period of a year through diet and exercise. However, I have fallen off the wagon and cannot get back on. When I was losing weight, I felt like a new person. I was disciplined, I was extremely fit, I was positive, I had energy and I felt in control.
It’s been six weeks since my fall off the wagon and I can’t get back into that mindset, and now all I can think about is food for comfort. I’ve started to re-gain the weight through comfort eating and no exercise. Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what to eat or how to eat or how to get back to the place where I was exercising regularly, eating healthily and being happy.
Many thanks for your help.
Answer-
Hello and thanks so much for your question.
I have a question for you, if you weren’t thinking about food, what do you think that you would be thinking about?
You very insightfully state that your mind turns to food when you are feeling distressed or tired. This tells me that food is very comforting to you. It’s something that you turn to for comfort and so when you are feeling distressed, you begin to think about food and eating to soothe yourself.
You might want to try using an alternative choice journal. When you find that you are feeling distressed, or your thoughts are drifting toward food, fill this out:
Feelings: Describe what you are feeling right now- happy? sad? anxious? angry? tired? lonely?:
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What led to this feeling? Can you pinpoint the trigger?
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Describe what kind and how much food your are fantasizing about:
___________________________________________________________________________
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How do you hope that this will make you feel? What outcome are you looking for?
___________________________________________________________________________
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Is there something else that you can do that might be able to give you a similar feeling as you are trying to achieve with food? 

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___________________________________________________________________________

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For some ideas on self soothing or self care activities see here and for distractions, check here.

I would encourage you to concentrate on health  and well being rather than losing weight. Instead of trying really hard to refocus on losing weight again, think about giving yourself health by exercising in ways that you enjoy. Focus on being emotionally healthy by validating your own feelings and talking to safe people when you’re feeling distressed. Take care of yourself by being gentle and kind to yourself instead of beating yourself up for not being where you think you should be. The irony is, so many people get so angry at themselves when they binge, but the fact that they are bingeing indicates that they need compassion, yet they beat themselves up. If you are bingeing or fantasizing about food, you probably need to give yourself some more attention. Let yourself nap when you are tired and eat when you are hungry. Try to engage in intuitive eating rather than dieting or restrictive eating. Be kind and gentle with you.

A very similar one was asked a few months ago, you might want to check out that answer as well.

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location.

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Most recent quote from community member: "Unbelievable progress. I had a slice of cake, wasn't that fussed about it and moved on. Cake is just cake! I never thought I'd get to this place. I keep thinking back to an earlier meditation when all the negative energy left down through my feet. That was really powerful. I'm planning to play it again. I've also drawn up a weekly meal plan of healthy balanced meals. This just helps to give me a bit of guidance and planning and eliminates any need for impulsive decisions when I often feel stressed after work. Amazing, thank you so much. I always hoped for hope, but n ow I feel like I'm living hope! I'm so grateful Leora. Thank you."
  • sunshine

    I am going to try this. Thanks so much!

  • Jennifer

    I know this question was a while ago but I am going through the exact same thing at the moment, I feel like the person in the question is me.
    What a good answer, Im definately going to try this whenever I next have these feelings, this blog is fantastic.. just came across it today and really helping me with all the tips. Thankyou so very much.
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