Is Food a 4-Letter Thought?

Every day at some point I have to consciously think about NOT eating.  I don’t believe it is about hunger and cravings or even some unknown underlying emotional issue … but rather about habit and lifestyle.  For many decades I have had poor eating habits.  How long will it take before eating well becomes second nature and something I don’t have to think about?  When will I stop thinking about food?

It seems that my thoughts can be divided into two categories:  What/when am I going to eat?   And the harder to define thoughts that are something to do with wanting food even when I am not hungry.  Just thinking about wanting to eat.  Food, food, food… you are always on my mind.  (Sung to the tune of Willie Nelson here.)

Part of my problem is also that my new eating plan takes a lot of thought and planning to do it well.  I have to plan three meals a day now as well as healthy snacks.  And I am cooking more than ever before which, of course, takes thought and time too – time finding recipes, time planning menus, time shopping, time prepping and cooking meals, and more time cleaning up after.  So all this means I am thinking about food more… but these are good, healthy, necessary thoughts that lead to good, healthy eating.  This kind of thinking and planning is key to diet success for so many of us.

But those other thoughts.  Sigh.  Usually they start right after lunch, when my mind goes to sweets.  I know I am not hungry.  I know it is a conditioned response to all the years I ate dessert after lunch.  But I have to walk away and tell myself that I am truly not hungry and do not need to put something more in my mouth.  Distraction appears to be key here.  And brushing my teeth helps a little bit too.

Then the afternoon drags on – the hardest, longest part of the day for me.  I don’t work outside the house and I find that being home makes me think about eating.  Again, I am not hungry.  Bored?  Probably.  If I keep my hands and mind occupied or stay out of the house, I can go hours without thinking (much) about food.  But otherwise, I just find my mind wandering to food.  Again, it is not about craving; I don’t want anything in particular.  Am I just too focused on food in general right now?  Sometimes my thoughts are about how slowly the afternoon is passing while I wait to have my snack.  And then again until dinner.  Why do I do this?!  And how do I make it stop?!  (And why is there no good synonym for that 4-letter word that keeps cropping up in this post and my mind!!)

Blogging has helped.  As have all my cups of tea.  And despite the intruding and annoying thoughts, I am not cheating or overeating.  But the sane rational part of me says that this is not good and I need to figure out why I am doing it and how to stop.  Because I am in this for the long-haul now and I do not want to spend the rest of my life focused on food!

Am I am alone in this crazy obsession – or do you also think about food way more than you’d like to?  And if you have found a way to get your mind out of this gutter, so to speak, please share.

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23 Comments

Filed under dieting, emotions/emotional issues, food, making a change

23 responses to “Is Food a 4-Letter Thought?

  1. janhvi shetty

    im writing because just ten minutes ago i thought if i started blogging about my food issues it would help me and voila i see myself in your note.

    the best way to stop thinking about food is to think about the outfit u finally want to fit into

    also ive given up sugar for lent so cheating doesnt even come naturally

  2. Lexxiss

    I deal with this, too….and it has gotten better over time-except now that I’m in the headspace where I am sooo sick of winter-and a bit bored, my thoughts of eating bad foods are increasing.

    And I already know, Phase 1 won’t get rid of the thoughts I have when I’m not hungry AND bored. *thinking* I do think planning helps, so I’m planning ahead and mapping out my day.

  3. I do think about food more now. Sometimes that’s healthy, in that I’m planning and thinking ahead to what might jump out at me, but at other times it feels almost obsessive.

    Remodeling my house seems to be serving as a nice (if costly) distraction for now. 🙂

  4. I completely understand how you’re feeling. It seems as though maybe we are just wired differently. When I compare myself to my husband or other people who are of normal weights and don’t struggle with obesity, they don’t think about food all the time. They don’t plan, scheme, worry, wonder about what to eat next or when they’ll eat next.

    Also – one of the hardest things for me to overcome is the feeling that I need something sweet after lunch and dinner. Right there with ya!

  5. there is an entire world of women (and men!) who have the exact same food-thoughts/cravings/desires. “eat what you love, love what you eat” is one of my personal favorite books that deals with this.
    BTW, thanks for stopping by my blog and helping make my SITS day so wonderful! I really love your comment (poetic way to write about a non-poetic topic).

  6. losingmore

    I could have written this myself. I feel a connection to food which I believe is not totally normal…but then I see ppl on food network and read other blogs, and I realize I am not alone. I agree with Anna…wired differently.

    I can relate to the eating out of boredom in the afternoon…and the sweets cravings after lunch. If I finish off my lunch with a fruit, it seems to calm the need for sweets. I have also been making myself some choco fudge sf ff instant puddings…to help when the cravings are bad. I don’t really like to do too much artificial sweetners…but it helps when I need sweet and chocolate!

    Food has a lot of meanings for me. I find its my canvas….its how I nurture my family….but I hate that I feel like it can control me sometimes, and I am not quite sure how one takes that out of the equation. maybe it will never get easier, we will just learn how to control it better.

  7. I can only shop once a week, so I have my meals planned out ahead of time. I think that helps. Now if I obsess it’s because I’ve run out of vegetables and can’t get to the store to get more.

  8. It IS emotional eating. Any time you want to eat and your stomach isn’t growling, it’s emotional eating. Whether that emotion is only boredom, or something more ‘sinister’…there is nothing but emotion involved. We have stresses we don’t even realize that we have, and when we reach for something sweet after lunch or dinner it’s to soothe ourselves. What does soothing ourselves say to us about our mental state? If you don’t accept that emotions ARE at play, you can’t get over this. 😦

  9. Hi! I’m stopping by from LBS. I can’t wait to read more. I am a yo-yo’er too. I think the same things everyday. I’m so glad I found your blog!

  10. I feel the same way about food. I work in an office, but the afternoons are still tough for me. I always want a snack of some kind because I get bored. Boredom makes me want to toss Hershey’s Kisses into my mouth. I do spend a lot of time thinking about food, and I almost think about it more now that I’m trying to get healthy. Good luck getting through the afternoon – I hope I do well too.

  11. You are not alone. The constant thinking is what gets me every time. I can be doing great on not overeating, making good choices, and then BOOM, I have this urgency to stuff myself with anything and everything. And it is terrible. I have been a bit better about it but I am still trying to work it out.

  12. *i’m so happy the comments are working!*

    If I can be busy-healthy busy, not stressed-it helps me a lot. Then I am distracted. If I am stressed busy and starting to freak out a bit, then it’s better for me to quickly have a healthy snack.

    You’ll figure it out!

  13. I seriously thought I was not normal in how much I thought about food. It would be the first thing I thought about when waking up, and the last thing before bed. A couple of things have truly helped me. Eating carbs (bread, pasta, rice, crackers, etc.) just makes me want to eat more, so I cut back on those. I eat unsalted, dry roasted nuts every day. And I almost never snack. I would rather feel full and satisfied after a meal, and have no snack, then to eat smaller meals, and be thinking about snacks all day! 🙂

  14. sunnydaze

    I can totally relate; seems like we all can. I’m struggling witht eh same thing that’s why I’m reading those books on emotional eating, hopefully it will help me like it has helped Sunny.

  15. You are NOT alone!!!! I hate obsessing over food. It’s hard. I think I obsessed more before I was eating healthy though. I would be eating something very bad and already be thinking about the next bad thing I was going to eat! So I guess it gets better. I’m hoping anyway. 🙂

  16. Thanks for you comments everyone! I have a family emergency this week … so I probably won’t have a chance to comment on YOUR comments. But I did read them all:)

    And you may not see me on your own blog comments for a bit until things settle down. Just wanted you to know that I am reading and happily finding a few moments of distraction in the blogosphere.

  17. You are not alone at all. I know for me, when I was obese, I ate all day long so I never really “thought” about food, but rather just ate mindlessly. As I was losing I consciously thought a lot about what, when, and how I was eating. Over time though, a lot of those thoughts became automatic and I didn’t feel like I was constantly thinking about food.

    I’m so happy that you are thinking about it, and making good choices. That is what will help you change your relationship to food and improve your health!!

  18. I just found your blog, and wow! Great post! This is exactly how I feel. Even when I’m motivated, and totally on track, thoughts of food still rule over me.. I wish I knew the answer!

  19. debby

    I think about food all the time. Sometimes that is a good thing, and sometimes its not so good. And I have changed a lot, but I still have the ‘I want dessert after lunch and dinner’ thing that I deal with all the time…

  20. Well the busier I am, the less I think about food. Maybe you need to find a hobby to take you out of the house in the afternoon? If that were my bad time of the day, you know I’d be in the garden, but my bad time of the day for cravings is after dinner, not after lunch. I always want to eat sweets after dinner even when I’m full.

  21. Jen

    I have the same problem working from home. If I get out I can go all day without thinking about food but when I am home working I have to eat by 10:30 am.

  22. amy

    Its all in our mindset, just make those natural healthy food your best friends and have an envy for them, just love them….and finally you may feel thinking of food is really good cheers!

  23. You are not alone. I left my job 3 years ago when arthritis in my hands cut my time as a massage therapist short. I try to put as much effort into staying busy as I do into planning meals, etc. Home improvement projects and volunteer work have been two things that not only pass the time, but make me feel productive. I have also joined a book club, something I had been wanting to do for a long time.

    Have you tried making a list of things that you would like to try or projects you would like to complete? When you are busy living your life, it takes the focus off food.

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