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Grieving the Loss of Food as a Friend

Monday, November 05, 2012

Recently a good friend asked me a whole series of questions about how I lost weight and how I am keeping it off. I talked about portion control, increasing exercise, healthiest food choices, and the commitment to quit quitting - no matter what. I mentioned the importance of sleep and water and controlling sodium. Of course, I told her about SparkPeople and how SP helped me get all the way to goal. I gave Weight Watchers credit for getting me started and the YMCA for helping me learn to love exercise. You know, the usual, the kind of things I read over and over in success stories.

But I heard me say one thing that was so true for me and I have never read in any other success story. And that was the importance of grieving. There came a point when I hadn't lost weight for several weeks. I thought about chalking it up to age and genetics and being happy with what I had accomplished. And then I looked at my food trackers -- really looked. Reality stared me in the face. If I was going to continue munching in front of the TV in the evenings, I would weigh more than I wanted. I knew I had already drastically changed what and how much I munched in the evening, but I saw it was still my primary overeating issue.

I decided to give up the evening munching and to substitute a small, planned evening snack if I had enough calories left. It was a hard choice. And here comes the grieving process. I'm not kidding. I felt like I had lost a great friend. My chest hurt right during the time I would have been eating; I truly felt heartbroken. I searched for new activities to keep me busy in the evenings and focused on other things, from computer games to pilates. I found herbal tea and bubble baths and talking to real friends as alternative forms of comfort. I learned that sometimes I just need to go to bed rather than eat.

So in addition to all the usual things, for me I would add grieving the loss of food as a friend as a crucial step on my way to a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle.

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  • _LINDA
    I never thought of it as grieving. I simply gave up TV as I recognized that was a major snack trigger for me. Two years of being TV free has given me a new lease on life. But I didn't grieve it as I realized I was getting nothing out of it but a huge time waster. Did I really want to be proud of spending 1/3 of my life watching TV? Now exercise fills that void, and boy, does it feel way better, which, I suppose, is why I did not grieve it because I found something enjoyed doing much, much better. But I have to be careful. The computer has replaced TV now, and while most of it is spent on Sparks encouraging and following others, it still is a time stealer all the same. But at least its not a snack trigger :P
    Great blog Marsha!!
    2476 days ago
    I never thought of it like that; the grieving part. But I know what it is like to use it for comfort when you are depressed or sad. It just seems so natural to do. It is always there for us; but then so is God. I try to pray or think about about something else instead.
    2477 days ago
    So much truth. I rely, as many people do, on the comfort of food at different times of the day. Tough to give up an "old reliable friend."
    2478 days ago
    2478 days ago
    2479 days ago
    You are so right about food being a friend, especially in the evening. I'm seeing a patter with that too. Like you, sometimes I just need to go to bed and get some rest. I think I eat my way through fatigue and medicate my chronic pain with food. I too will give this up except for a planned evening snack. Thanks for the thought provoking blog, Marsha!
    2479 days ago
    So that's what that was. I never thought
    about it that way. What an eye-opener!
    2479 days ago
    I feel like this at times. Just didn't have the words to say it. emoticon
    2479 days ago
    I feel like there are many things I have grieved and some others that I should. Great insight. I will think about this and may end up with my own blog. Thanks for the motivation.
    2479 days ago
    Grief at the loss of food as a "friend": yeah. I can really relate to this and appreciate you defining the problem. There are times (like pretty much every day) that I'd just love to sit down with a large bag of kettle chips and munch mindlessly. Can't do it, not even once in a while: because it's a trigger for me. And don't like having to give it up. Oh well.
    2479 days ago
    Yes, one of those "aha" moments. Hadn't thought about this concept before, but it is so very true. The payoff on the other side is so worth it, but you do give up what was a "friend". Thanks for sharing such a great blog!
    2479 days ago
  • FROSTY99
    I never thought of quite in this light but I think you are right-it is like grieving the loss of a dear friend-FOOD. I too am learning to substitute something else in place of food and telling myself I might as well slap that piece of cake or donut or whatever food is calling my name on my hip as in my belly and it is helping me visualize it there and it isn't nearly as appealing!
    2479 days ago
    That is such a good point. It's true, I grieve the loss of a glass of wine with dramatic tv (Grey's Anatomy, I'm looking at YOU!) and being able to go to lunch wherever I want and order whatever I want.

    That is awesome and definitely a great insight for me and my own behavior as well.

    emoticon emoticon
    2479 days ago
  • ANDI571
    I know exactly what you are saying. It's like giving up a way of life. Thanks for sharing. emoticon
    2479 days ago
    I completely understand this! But I agree I haven't seen it mentioned very often, if at all. Eating is a great comfort and pleasure so I suppose it's only natural that it feels like losing something to give it up (well some of it at least!) Having said that though, I had pizza at the weekend. Haven't eaten it in weeks and really fancied some. You know what? I've lost the taste for it. It seemed greasy and stodgy and completely unappealing. So maybe no grieving for me on the pizza front.

    Chocolate though. Hmm..... Take that away from me and I'd have a much bigger problem on my hands!

    Thanks for posting - really interesting!
    2479 days ago
    I agree that this element is there... and once in a while, I go visit the gravesite. So to speak. And find myself grieving all over again.
    2479 days ago
    What a fantastic insight, and SO profound! You have really given me my "aha" moment.

    I guess we need to bury that "friend" (eating in front of the TV, all-you-can-eat buffets, drinking, whatever it is) and grieve...but ultimately move on.

    Thanks for this!
    2479 days ago
  • MIRAGE727
    Love your perspective on this blog, Marsha! I resolved the evening situation in like fashion! Thanks for sharing and "brava" on the blog!
    2479 days ago
    I'm having trouble with wanting to give up eating after dinner (except for a planned snack). One of these days I'm going to get so disgusted with myself, want so much to be healthy, that I will make the commitment. It truly is grieving, for I dearly love food.
    2479 days ago
    well said. I do miss the mindless friend of eating in front of the tv and just not caring but then the after feelings of guilt are aweful. so I just don't do this anymore either. I have my planned for ceral and that's it.
    Good for us!
    2479 days ago
    2479 days ago
    That is so true! It is something I have gone through more than once.
    2479 days ago
    Some of the rules, I choose to ignore. Not eating in the evening is one of them. I really enjoy relaxing, watching TV and eating. That said; I do plan for it, count it in my calories for the day and have given up things I love (ice cream, which I do enjoy out) , for other things I love but won't binge on (frozen blueberries are my favorite ice cream replacement; I like pineapple too). No chips and salsa for me but I do enjoy popcorn and pretzels; again because I am happy with normal portions of those. I have made a lot of changes but I feel too good to be grieving about it and I refuse to be hungry or eat things I don't like. Granted here though that I had to learn to like lowfat dairy; too great of a protein/calorie bargain not to. You are so active Marsha; you should still be able to enjoy eating. Be well.
    2479 days ago
    You describe it so perfectly. I completely understand.
    2479 days ago
    Wow..this is a new one..but it make sense!
    2479 days ago
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