I crumpled onto the floor and yelled to my mom to take me to the hospital. The world darkened and sounds started getting distant. Pure terror filled my veins as I broke out in a cold sweat.
I was 10 years old and had just spent the past few hours jumping on a trampoline with my friends. As I lie on the floor, my mom handed me some orange juice which I drank. Within a few minutes, I was feeling better.
I didn’t know what was happening. The experience was so scary, I thought I was dying. This was my first low blood sugar attack – even though I didn’t know it at the time. I knew what it felt like and I developed PTSD around this feeling. From that point forward, I became utterly terrified when my blood sugar started to dip. I was beginning to experience low blood sugar anxiety.
For the next two decades, I struggled with this issue. This was a big setup for my emotional eating escapades. When my blood sugar would dip I would get hangry, impatient, and silently anxious. All I knew is that food calmed me down.
I packed food with me everywhere I went. If plans changed and meals delayed, I became antsy.
I gained and lost a bunch of weight. Then I became a binge eater, primarily at night. I would wake up with a tummy ache and skip breakfast until I felt like I could eat. I ate lightly because I convinced myself that “Today I’m not going to overeat.” So I’d under eat until after dinner when my body was screaming for food. I’d crave dessert and make a run to the convenience store to grab some ice cream. I’d finish the entire pint and then eat more snacks around the house.
I did this every day for long stints.
It wasn’t fun. But I always felt calm afterward. And then the self-hate and dread would kick in.
What an awful cycle to be stuck in!
Here are some key things I learned that helped turn this all around.
MACROS FOR BLOOD SUGAR
The low carb trend was really bad for me. I would be running on low energy all day long. When eating low carb I had to take 1-2 naps per day just to function. Strangely, major histamine issues came up when I went low carb. Fermented foods are high in histamine, but they helped my digestion. With low carbs and fermented foods combined, my histamine levels soared. My ears rang all the time, my stomach gurgled, I itched all over with hives, developed frequent panic attacks, and experienced allergic reactions to food. My anxiety around food increased to an all-time high.
Once I added the carbs back in I could exercise and all the histamine issues went away. I tried counting calories to lose weight and I’d even be able to stick to it for some time, but my cravings were intense. Once I discovered how many carbs I needed to eat every day, I realized that my calories really didn’t matter – I needed to focus on my macros.
EATING A BIGGER BREAKFAST
Since I dealt with nausea most mornings, especially after a night-binge – I didn’t want to eat breakfast. It occurred to me that after not eating for 16+ hours I was starving my brain by lunchtime.
Once I figured out how to decrease my nausea, I started eating breakfast. I learned that if I ate bigger breakfasts I was able to adequately “break my fast” and get the nutrients and glucose into my bloodstream earlier on.
There were major emotional obstacles to eating a bigger breakfast. I felt like I was going to get fat. I worried that I would eat more all day long. This important step allowed me to get through to a healthier overall lifestyle but it took time to get accustomed to it. It was worth it to get over low blood sugar anxiety.
I WAS BLOATED, NOT FAT
I loved skipping meals because my stomach would feel flatter and I felt lighter. But skipping meals set me up to binge-eat later on in the day or night. Getting my digestion right was a major hurdle in the process of resolving my emotional eating.
I went low carb because grains caused bloating. Cutting out gluten and all-carb breakfasts were helpful. Now I eat oats for breakfast once a week or on days where I’m going to take a long bike ride or hike. It doesn’t bloat me anymore since practicing the Gut Rebuilding Method.
I eat 99% of my meals from home. I made everything until I found Daily Harvest. It has changed my life. Daily Harvest is the fastest, easiest, most delicious way to eat well. It is plant-based, perfectly portioned, frozen, and ready to eat in a maximum of five minutes. I'm obsessed! Enter code RE-B64K7V2 at checkout.
I no longer put off breakfast or lunch and when I’m working all day, I know that my meals are covered. The macronutrient profile works well for my carbohydrate needs.
I add smoked salmon or turkey to a salad and eat that with a harvest bowl for lunch. For breakfast, I have a harvest bowl, usually the butternut squash – chimichurri which has buckwheat in it. Delicious! I love how easy this is and it has totally helped me save time and money on wasted produce. Plus, I don’t overeat on nuts and fruit all day when I’m busy. Win-Win.
I tire early. I do better with an early dinner – blue hair special anyone? When I eat early dinner, I can easily go to bed by 8:30 or 9 and wake up at 4:30-5am. This balances all sorts of hormones and matching the body with the natural light cycles of the sun will do wonders for all parts of your life. Plus, I never get FOMO when I get to see the sunrise. This has been by far the hardest challenge of my life, but I made a Facebook Live video about all my going to sleep early hacking strategies here. Plus, a well-rested woman is a less stressed woman. Less stress = less emotional eating. Yay!
There are all supportive techniques and just a smattering of the things I’ve figured out over the years to address my emotional eating habits. But ultimately, I still have to get to the root. What is underneath the emotional eating? Learn more about emotional detox in my upcoming class —> Emotional Eating, Weight Loss, and Gut Health Connection.