compulsive eating


The Camera Adds 10 Pounds

by Heather Loeb

This weekend I’ve eagerly awaited the arrival of our annual family photos. This year we opted to do them inside our new home, so I’ve been dying to see how they turn out.

I’ve also been dreading the new photos. It’s no secret that I’ve gained almost 20 pounds since the onset of the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to see, especially in our family photos.


I know it’s been hard on everyone, and a lot of people have gained weight. I know that I should love myself no matter what. I hear others say that I’m beautiful no matter what, but my anxiety and eating disorders speak louder. They always have.

Because we just moved in, a couple of our bathrooms don’t have mirrors hung yet. At first it was annoying but now I’m relieved I don’t have to look in the mirror. It doesn’t matter how much positive self talk I spew — I just don’t like what I see. My weight is tied to my confidence, and sadly, my self worth. Right now, it feels like I’m worth nothing.

The family photos will just confirm what I’ve already been telling myself: I’m ugly, fat and unworthy.

Except, here’s the thing — my daughter is watching. And listening. If I admit these truths aloud, she will for sure hear them. And my voice will become her inner voice. My actions will becomes hers as well, and I’ll be damned if she cultivates this ugly self-hate that’s just rotting my worth and self-esteem.

I’ve talked about this before, many times. I have to change the way I talk to myself, treat myself. I’m raising kids, but really my goal— and what all our goals should be — is to raise healthy adults. I don’t know much about that, but I have my missteps to guide me.


The first thing I’m going to do is post the family photos — no matter what they look like. I’ll frame a couple in my house, not just because I’m trying to set a good example, but because damn, that’s what I look like now. This is what my family looks like after nine months of a deadly pandemic. We have survived, and even if I survived in a way that led to tighter clothes and an expanding waistline, I’ve survived. And that’s all that matters.

I want to thank Jennifer Stewart for capturing out family in our new loving home. I want to thank my body for supporting me during this time. I want to say that I do love myself and I’ll try harder to love it no matter my size. They say the camera adds 10 pounds, but maybe it’s time I stopped buying into that.

That I stop buying into diet culture and equating being then to being happy. I need to be happy now, instead of waiting until I’m a certain weight. Fuck that.

I’m going to be happy now, because both my daughter and son are watching. And that’s OK that they’re watching — it’s OK that they see me struggle, and even when I’m sad, but they’ll also see the fight in me, the determination and my grit. I’m all for them seeing me as human, because I am — just a perfectly imperfect human. That’s all we can be.

Edit: Our family photos were not available at the time of publication. I will add them in once I receive them.

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by Heather Loeb

A couple weeks ago I was flying high. I was very productive, making healthy choices and genuinely happy. Today, I am suffering. The weight of my depression is bearing down on me and I want to fight it so much. But I can’t. I can only go into survival mode and hope that I’ll feel differently in a few days.

I could feel this coming and what really sucks is that I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like I need to be happy in order to make good decisions but I know I need to make good decisions to feel happy. And I’m feeling the pain of not being able to do things I need to do like eat healthier. Today I had a healthy breakfast and lunch but then when I picked up the kids I binged on their fruit snacks because they were fighting and stressing me out. Then I decided to punish myself and eat an unhealthy dinner. I of course overate, which is very painful now since I got the gastric sleeve surgery in November.

I’ll try again tomorrow. And the next day and the one after that. Maybe I’ll get it right someday. Maybe I won’t have to have a “survival mode.” Here’s hoping.

Stay in the light, my friends. At least one of us should.

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Emotional Eating

by Heather Loeb

Update: I’m doing very well with my intermittent fasting but wanted to talk about emotional eating and what drives it.

Somewhere inside me, there’s a void. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know where it is – I just know that when I want or need to fill it I do two things: eat or shop. I’m always doing one or the other (or both) – a compulsion is always present. Mainly, emotional eating. As I mentioned in my Weight Gain blog, it’s the only part of my day that I feel happy, but that’s just it – it’s not real happiness and it brings on more guilt than anything.

I talked to my therapist about this today. I have a great life. I have everything I need and want: a great family, nice house, awesome kids and a wonderful husband. Where is this void coming from?

I honestly don’t know.

I’ll tell you what I do know. When I binge or compulsive eat, the food will be bad for me and obviously I will eat too much of it. Sometimes, I’ll do it in private when the kids are at school or when David is asleep. I’ll even eat in my car if I think my housekeeper is at the house. I guess I don’t want them to judge me. I don’t want them to know I’m going to eat half or an entire pizza to feel good for maybe 15 minutes, if that, feel guilty but then do it all over again the next day.

This isn’t just eating unhealthy occasionally and gaining a few pounds. As I mentioned in my other blog, this is gaining 20lbs in two months. This is eating until I feel sick and uncomfortable. This is terrible.

And it’s usually comfort I seek when I’m eating. I make excuses like “oh, I had a long day” or “the kids were driving me nuts today.” I’ve got to realize that’s going to happen all the time. That’s life. I have to deal without food making it “better.”

But it’s not really the kids misbehaving or having long days that drives me to emotionally eat – it’s that emptiness inside. Where is it coming from? I just can’t figure it out.

I don’t hate myself. I don’t want to sabotage myself. I don’t lack self-awareness. But I don’t have the answers either.

I’m not asking for a psychoanalysis either, folks. Just getting it out there, because if your keep it inside it stays a secret and bounds you.


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So Much Weight

by Heather Loeb

We all know that depression is a huge weight to carry but do you know what else is heavy? Actual body fat and I’ve got a surplus right now. I mean it. I’ve gained 20lbs in the past two months and it ain’t pretty.

At first, the weight started to just creep up, then I ignored the scale, ate Whataburger everyday and threw caution to the wind (and chocolate in my mouth).

I am so uncomfortable. My back is hurting again – it hasn’t hurt since my breast reduction last year. None of my clothes fit me right and I’m just disappointed with myself. I feel embarrassed and judged by strangers and those I love. I don’t know why.

There’s nothing like getting depressed about your weight while you’re actually depressed. I know some depressed folk who won’t take medication, effective medication, because one of the side effects is weight gain. The struggle is real. And for me, compulsive eating is a coping mechanism so this happens quite often. I eat my feelings and as it turns out I have a lot of feelings. Sometimes eating is the only joy I have in my joy as sad as that sounds. Also, if eating a certain meal felt good one time, I often go back to the meal to recreate feeling good. Even if it doesn’t work the second time, I still go back for more. I’m not a fast learner.

I know what I need to do to be healthy; it’s just hard when I can barely take a shower. But if I can drive my ass to Whataburger, I can drive to the gym, right? We’ll see.

There’s a 5K coming up in November I want to do, so I want to start running again. Along with eating healthier, I’ll make that my goal and maybe I can get these awful extra pounds off.

See below when I felt sexy and hot and a picture I took Saturday and felt blah.



I know I’m still beautiful and all that, blah blah, but I’m just so uncomfortable – did I mention that? In the picture on the left, I felt so sexy and wore cute clothes all the time. On the right, I feel like a hot mess – like fat girl in a little coat. I hope y’all are old enough to get that reference.

I’m going to shut up about it now.

So here I am going up a hill, depression/anxiety riding my back with the added bonus of 20 extra pounds.

I’m already sweating.

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by Heather Loeb

I had an epiphany today. I realized that I am not mentally healthy, which is completely different from being depressed or having mental illness. I flat out don’t do anything that would promote mental health, which no doubt affects my depression.

Recently, I’ve had trouble with overeating. My husband and I order out a lot and every chance I get I order something unhealthy and then proceed to overeat. It’s not a new practice, I’ve done it for years. What starts off as “I don’t feel great, I need a treat” turns into a habit that are incredibly hard to stop. But today I decided to stop.

Not just the overeating, but the way I look at myself, the way I talk and treat myself – it’s horrible and I would never say or do anything like that to another person. I pride myself on being compassionate and nonjudgemental – the oppotisite of what this saboteur in my head does.

I listented to a great podcast, Brook Castillo’s Self Assault, and learned that what I’ve been doing is assault – inflicting harm or attacking. This is what I do to myself day after day. Not only verybally but chemically as Brook Castillo put it – using chemicals and substances to inflict harm. That includes overeating, drinking massive amounts of Diet Coke and abusing meds, which I have a tendancy to do. I always need a hit whether it’s food, shopping, soda or relying too much on my anxiety pills.

So I threw out all my Diet Coke. I wrote down positive affirmations. I jotted down mean things that I said to myself and then disputed them.

And even though I begged my husband to order out tonight, we cooked a healthy meal. It was good but also sucked because I couldn’t overeat or have Diet Coke with it. I realize now that I’m constantly seeking false pleasure in things. I actually cried because we didn’t order out. But that’s just me being uncomfortable with change – losing my blankie, if you will. I have to get uncomfortable. I have to stop treating myself like shit if I don’t want to feel like shit. Again, this behavior can not be helping my depression one iota.

I also realized that I didn’t have any goals set for myself anymore. I used to set goals, acoomplish them and make new goals, it was just what I did. The fact that I don’t have any goals told me I don’t think I’m worthy or even capable, which isn’t true. Where does all this hate and sabotaging behavior come from? How on earth did I learn to talk to myself with such animosity and disgust?

Wherever I picked it up, I’m trying to put it down now. I know it’ll take sometime to break bad habits but I just have to do this. I have to be as healthy as possible. I have to set an example for my kids and husband. I have to love myself and feel worthy of that love.

Tell me, friends, how do you self sabotage and what do you do to be mentally healthy?







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by Heather Loeb

The past few days have been great – I’ve had more energy, been in a better mood, going to the gym and I can see hope on the horizon. I’m so busy during the daytime but it’s after the kids go to bed, when night falls, that I start to struggle again. How can you have such a good day and then crumble? I don’t know but as soon as I’ve tip-toed out of my little girl’s room in the evening and head downstairs the anxiety attacks at full force.

Is it because I know I only have a few hours until I have to sleep and wake up and do it all over again? My daughter’s having some potty training issues. It’s very frustrating.

I don’t know.

Is it because I know there’s an internal battle coming up?


I have a few options: I can take an anti-anxiety pill. I could color in my adult coloring book. I could read a book. I could meditate. I could employ any positive coping skill I’ve ever learned but I usually don’t. See, I have certain compulsions when I’m depressed and anxious, which is pretty common for a lot of people. My fallbacks are compulsive shopping and eating. Not binge eating per se but overeating foods that I know are not good for me. When I’m in turmoil, I cannot stop these behaviors. I wish I could and sometimes there is inner dialogue with a lot of cussing and arguing but usually the compulsions win out.

The shopping is easier to control because you have to have money for that but it’s the eating that I have real trouble with. It’s especially hard to talk myself out of it at night after I’ve had a long day and the anxiety has already hit me. I need something good to eat after all I’ve been through that day. I need a pick me up. I need that high. I need to forget about the anxiety.

And of course it’s worse on Sundays. Tonight I ate an entire pizza. I’d say I have no regrets but my pajama pants disagree. I didn’t get much of a high, I’m still anxious and my pants are too tight.

When I’ve asked my therapist about this, she agreed that these are compulsions and sometimes I will not be in a good place to stop them. She continued saying I can’t stop these compulsions anymore than I can stop a migraine with my thoughts. She also said I need to be an adult and learn to say no to myself. She’s right on both counts, especially me saying no to myself, but that part sucks so let’s get to that later.

I know it’s my brain that makes me depressed and anxious. I know these aren’t character flaws or personality issues. After all, medicine doesn’t go to your heart and change your feelings, it goes to your brain to fix misfiring neurotransmitters and such. But I can’t help feeing a little despaired that I’m not able to control these compulsions 100% of the time. I also know it could be worse.

I don’t know what it is about the nighttime that does this to me but it always has. I think about having alone time all day and then when I get it and have the opportunity to relax I’m the furthest thing from it. The only time I’m at peace at night is when I’m sleeping and I need a pill for that.

But as weird as this all sounds, I’m still improving from where I was. I’ll take being happy/content during the day and anxious at night. But at least there’s sleep.

Anyone care to share your compulsions? Your negative or positive coping skills?

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