Why dieting makes me miserable, or, An emotional eater's lament
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Ugh, dieting is such a ridiculous emotional roller coaster for me. One minute I'm feeling super motivated and positive -- I'm setting goals and genuinely enjoying a healthy salad for lunch -- and a few hours later, I'm low again.
I'd ask why, but I know why. It's because I have given food this huge power over my life. I use the pleasure of food, especially overeating unhealthy food, to sedate myself. I lose myself in the temporary pleasures of sugar and cheese, etc. (the types of foods that are proven to cause similar happy chemical reactions in your brain to narcotics, eep), and it's fun, and it passes the time, and it helps keep me from questioning whether I'm truly satisfied with my life. If my taste buds are satisfied (and then some), then I must be satisfied... right?
But now as soon as the diet starts -- as soon as the threat rises that using food for my emotional purposes won't be an option anymore -- part of me starts to freak out. I'm afraid of the things I'll have to face without anything to sedate myself and protect myself anymore.
This is something really, really insiduous going on in my head. I bet it is a familiar feeling for many people with a history of emotional eating. When you've spent your life letting food be a cozy security blanket that insulates you from the harsh emotional realities of your world... it is REALLY HARD when you suddenly rip that blanket away. It's miserable knowing that you can't enjoy a pint of icecream when you're miserable. Even if you're not feeling emotionally bad right now, it's still terrible knowing that those feelings are going to come by at some point in the future and you won't be able to use your old tricks to deal with them anymore.
It's like I'm at war with myself. There is the part of me that is the emotional eater... and then there is the part of me that wants to change, and live a healthier and more fulfilled life. The emotional eater is trying very hard right now to convince me that I won't be able to handle my life without having her methods to lean on anymore. It's crazy how powerful she is! But I guess it makes sense when you realize than I'm 30 years old and I started those habits when I was, I don't know, in middle school probably. That's a long time for a habit -- emotional eating -- to become so powerful that it can start to fight back at you the minute you start to think about quitting it.
I just have to trust myself -- the healthy part of myself who wants to change -- that this truly is the best thing for me. I believe it is. I do. I believe that if dieting makes me miserable, it's a temporary misery that can be replaced by something much better afterwards.