Friday, September 17, 2010
Within the whirling dervish that is life at the moment, I've had a few minutes to look hard at the different person I've become. Before, when I would be heavily stressed and looking for an outlet, I would reflexively turn to food for comfort. Often I'd "wake up" holding an empty bag of chips or go into the kitchen for another slice of pizza to find the box already empty, having forgotten that I'd eaten the entire thing a few minutes before.
I was every type of emotional eater: I ate when I was happy, sad, lonely, with friends, in large groups, all alone, feeling worthless, feeling like a million bucks - any excuse for cheese fries, really. Bored, busy, rebellious, tired, hyper. On the fly or on a lazy Sunday morning.
Now, my mind turns to running. Or biking, which I have been doing a lot of lately. Maybe simply taking charge of the situation and DEALING with it rather than allowing it to gnaw on my guts. It's still hard - dealing with changing homes, packing and moving, adjusting to a new schedule and person in life - but it is amazing how much better I am at handling things compared to a few years ago. I still struggle with compulsive eating but am able to stop, look and listen to my body before a morsel crosses my lips. The new rules are now the old rules.
When did that happen!?
For anyone out there who thinks they will never overcome emotional eating, I am here to tell you: You can. Forget drinking a glass of water; stop and think: Why do I want to eat right now? Think about it while you're cleaning the bathroom or folding clothes: What can I do right now to help change what's upsetting me? Do I need to act, or do I need to deal with this internally? Write it down if it feels right or find the courage to let go of the people and situations that make you feel worthless or angry. Put nothing in your mouth until you know you could just as soon walk away from it.
It takes time - years, maybe a lifetime - to change your relationship with food. It's constant vigilance that heads off emotional impasses and thwarts emotional eating. Might sound a bit like navel-gazing, but evaluate your emotional state before you eat anything. It could take a while to decide on an order in a restaurant and could even keep you from going out at all. It's your issue to deal with - it's not your mother's fault, your grandmother's fault or the fault of your carousing band of merrymakers - and it's up to you to break the cycle.
I say this because rather than falling headlong into the typical food traps that arise during times of stress, both good (new boyfriend!) and bad (moving is hard!), my "new" thought processes are FINALLY overriding the old habits. Not that the cravings aren't there or the niggling sensation that a brownie could make it alllll better, but my brain chirps back, "Cheer up, emo kid. Go ride your bike, ya big weenie!"
And I don't have to think about it at all. :-)