Why You Might Gain Weight in Early Recovery

Many men and women who turn to drugs or alcohol might have done so because they were living stressful lives at the time. They might have lost their job and feeling the great financial stress might have needed a way to ease the emotional pain. They might have lost a spouse or loved one and with the incredible grief, alcohol or drugs might have helped them feel a bit better. It’s very common to turn to substances as a means to cope with emotional pain.

But let’s say, you’re turning all that around. You’re in recovery now and you’re sober. Plus, the stresses of your life have changed. You’re not as anxious or maybe you’re not as depressed as you were. If that’s the case, then staying sober might get easier and easier.

However, for some people, there’s a chance that relying upon an external source to feel better still exists. Although you might not turn to alcohol or drugs again since you’re working on staying sober, you might find yourself turning to food. You might notice that you’re turning to food for emotional support.

In fact, emotional eating is very common, especially during early recovery. There are plenty of stressors that exist in recovery alone. You’re changing your life. You might be feeling changes emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Because of this, you might turn to food to feel better, just like you once turned to substances to feel better. Here are some common triggers for emotional eating:

  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Relationship problems
  • Boredom
  • Frustration
  • Facing an uncomfortable situation
  • Negativity
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of change

As you can imagine, there are some consequences to emotionally eating on a regular basis. Gaining weight is one of them. You might also experience nutritional difficulties, sickness, and even disease. For instance, type 2 diabetes is frequently the result of making too many poor choices regarding food intake. And if you were an alcoholic, the regular consumption of alcohol might have also contributed to diabetes. Also, if you’re gaining weight, then this might affect your sense of self worth.

If you find that you’re emotionally eating in recovery as a means to feel better, substituting drugs or alcohol, you might need professional support. You might work with a nutritionist who can provide suggestions for food and keep you on a regimen. You might also work with a personal trainer who get you exercising on a regular basis and help you focus on strengthening certain parts of the body. Lastly, you might track your caloric intake so that once you reach a certain limit, you know that you can’t eat any more snacks for the rest of the day.

Most importantly, however, you might ask yourself every time you go to eat, “Why am I eating?” If you answer because you’re hungry or because it’s time to eat, then there’s no problem. But if you answer because you don’t feel good or because you feel like snacking, then perhaps there’s an emotional component to craving food.

If you find that you’re emotionally eating and gaining weight, seek the professional and personal support to avoid any unwanted consequences.


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