You have probably heard the phrase « emotional eating ». It is a well-known phenomenon of trying to reduce stress, anxiety, fear, and anger through food. Of course, this is a very bad habit because you lose all awareness of what you eat and it can eventually lead to health problems, especially when ingested foods are high in sugar and calories. PKUers are not immune to this reality. Unfortunately, in addition to calories and sugar, they have to worry about something else: proteins.
Most people with phenylketonuria who follow their diet will have lapses in their dietary control from time to time. We all go through this. But I was doing great lately and I was particularly proud of it. Then, yesterday happened.
Yesterday was a bad day. From beginning to end. You know, the kind of day where everything goes wrong. Besides, I was hungry; the schedule of this day was really weird and did not help me to manage my diet and to take meals at the right time. Of course, I am a positive person and these events did not really taint my good mood. On the other hand, whether we are positive or not, such repetitive negative events, even if it is nothing serious, end up getting on our nerves and affecting us. That’s exactly what happened and at one point, I really wanted to send everything to graze and eat stuff that any good PKUers should even avoid looking at. I wanted to unconsciously « eat my emotions ».
In the end, I did pretty well, but it made me understand how this phenomenon is a sword of Damocles over people, particularly those with phenylketonuria (this is how I thought of writing this article). So I will share with you how I got through it.
5 tips to avoid « eating your emotions » (and avoid the proteins that come with it):
- Be aware of the problem. As I wrote above, I really understood at a certain stage that I was in danger of drifting. It’s not always easy to be aware of something so subtle, but I practiced a lot of visualization lately (secret of my success in recent weeks) and I have the strong feeling that it helped me to become aware of the situation.
- Always have low protein snacks on you. Another good habit I have taken lately. Luckily, I had Cambrooke’s « Complete » chocolate and peanut butter bars on me, which kept me going until I came back.
- Identify low-protein restoration solutions. As I was in an area that I know well of Montreal, I knew where to go to get food that would satisfy me enough, at least until those feelings diminished.
- Write down what you eat. I used to write down my meals in the excellent Lose It app (I’ll talk more about it in a future article). If you want to monitor phenylalanine consumption more closely, you can also try the Cambrooke application, Metabolic Balancer. It’s a great way to become aware of what you eat.
- Do not keep this to yourself. I had the reflex to verbalize my « flash » to my girlfriend who immediately encouraged me to stay on the right path. That’s probably what helped me the most not to go off the rails.
The feeling of wanting to eat bad things is unfortunately very strong in these situations and it is all of these elements that helped me get through it. Have you ever felt the need to eat things that you like a lot, but which you are not allowed to when everything goes wrong? Do not hesitate to tell me if that is the case (or even if it is not the case).