Real Story: Are Those Ho-Hos Calling My Name?

Thank you to HealthyGirl.org reader Stacy, 22, for sharing this tale of  emotional eating and very loud little Ho-Hos. Have you ever felt like a food was calling to you?

I searched for "chocolate" on flickr, and found...this cute puppy! So much better than a picture of chocolate, no?

I wanted to scarf down HoHos today.

If you’ve never had a hoho, I’m referring to those black and white cream cakes, the kind you ate as a four-year-old. I had a bad day. I left classes and walked to the subway, the wind blowing through my hair as the rain poured down. From the five blocks to my apartment, I daydreamed about the HoHo cakes sitting in my cabinet. I pictured the creamy white center and imagined myself devouring the cakes, bite by bite

I have a problem with emotional eating.

It started when I was a teenager. At thirteen, I went through a painful adolescence. Around my classmates I found myself tongue-tied and quiet. Most days, I would hop on the schoolbus, book in hand. I’d lose myself in the latest John Grisham thriller or Nancy Drew novel.

But I couldn’t keep out the outside world. A classmate of mine, a boy named Arthur, would sit behind me on the bus with his friends. Close to my ear, he would whisper about my body, commenting on my chest, hips, and legs. I would bite my lip to keep myself from crying. I didn’t know then it was sexual harrassment.

At thirteen, I took it as something you had to endure in order to be a woman. And when I went home, I would stuff myself with every piece of junk food in the house. I’d pick up a bag of potato chips and eat them so fast I could barely enjoy the taste.

I would eat to cover up my own feelings of self-worth. I would buy two chocolate bars and swallow them in less than ten minutes. With the lingering taste of chocolate morsels in my mouth, I would sneak downstairs for dinner. Throughout the years, I would turn to junk food to soothe my anxiety and fears. Uncertain about the future? Pizza. Bad day? Potato Chips. Menstrual cramps? Ben and Jerry’s Fudge Brownie Supreme.

So tonight, when I got home, I reached for the HoHos. I was having one of those self-defeatist moments we all suffer from. On a rational level, I knew the HoHo’s weren’t going to solve my black mood.

Just one.

I picked up the box and held the blue and white box in my hands. The swirly letters of the Hostess brand beckoned to me. Eat me, Stacy. Eat me. Eat me and I’ll make all of your problems go away. Just one bite, and you’ll feel better. I reached in. God, I could almost taste the chocolate. Just one.

I pulled my hand in…and stopped. It’s been five hours. I still want my HoHo’s. Can you imagine? I’ve been thinking about chocolate cakes for the past five hours. Clearly, I have an attachment to food. Junk food, in particular. Tonight though, I can say I didn’t give into my emotional eating—my HoHo’s are still sitting in my kitchen cabinet. I came pretty close, though. —Stacy
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5 Responses to Real Story: Are Those Ho-Hos Calling My Name?

  1. Heather says:

    Stacy…I know what you mean about the food calling out to you. It’s weird. There was a restaurant that is 1.5 hours from here that was calling me the other night…I almost got in my car and drove an hour and a half so that I could get a sandwich.
    It was your comment about “Arthur” that got me though. I had one of those too, in the 5th grade, named Ronny. When we were at swimming lessons I walked by in my bathing suit and he said “boom babba boom babba boom”. I developed a little earlier than the other kids. Anyway, Ronny, over time, has become Ron and now owns a record store. I happened to go in there one day and we started talking and have since become great friends…one day we were chatting and I told him about that day when we were kids. I told him how it made me feel, made a few jokes about it, and then pointed out that over 20 years later, I still remember what my bathing suit looked like, and the exact words that he used. I’ve never seen a man’s face get crushed like that. He’s been apologizing since, but all I asked for was for him to go home, relay the story to his 11 year old son.
    Good luck in defeating the HoHos!

  2. Sunny says:

    Yeah…it was usually peanut butter calling out to me. I’d wake up from a dead sleep craving it.

  3. Kate says:

    I didn’t have a Ronny or an Arthur. I did have an Andy and a Willie who would sit there and make comments about my size, how fat girls are unattractive, and try to make me squeeze through doors held 12 inches open. Even if they saw me in the street–being driven home in a car they would mime my size. I felt I could never leave the house without a parent present. Both boys have now head at least one long stint in jail–I still don’t know what I would do if I came face to face with them again.

  4. CC says:

    I’m reading a book right now called Radical Acceptance that is helping me deal with things like the HoHo’s calling my name (for me it is anything with sugar) and memories of kids like Ronny. The author, Tara Brach, talks about “pausing” to feel what we’re really feeling when trapped in a HoHo’s moment. I recommend the book so far…

  5. Emily says:

    For me, it’s the food in the office kitchen. There’s constantly something. As an office, we celebrate everyone’s birthday with treats, have a bunch of bakers who bring in whatever they just made and host a lot of events with leftovers.

    You can see where this is going. Pair the absurd abundance of food with a very stressful work environment and it doesn’t matter what is in the breakroom, it’s calling my name.

    I have mixed success with coping. On very stressful days, it feels like I’m constantly eating whatever is in there. So I’m working on acknowledging the stress and trying to find alternatives to bring it down. Whether that means going back to my desk and checking five things off my to-do list, going outside for a walk or even just saying a prayer, it helps me to try to gain some perspective on stress before I head for the food.

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.