Can I tell you how many dirty day dreams I've had of velveeta mac n cheese or chocolate dipped macaroons? Oh yes, really.
I'm throwing that out there to expose you to how obsessed I have allowed myself to be regarding food over the years.
My pain management therapist helped me come to the reality that this is a coping mechanism that I have created and fed as a way to cope with my health and chronic pain. As Ethel grew and raged over the years, I have reacted in unhealthy ways. But he refused to condemn me for it. Which for some reason bothered me initially? I guess I was too busy blaming myself, and thus repeating a wonky cycle of ridiculous emotional eating. My thighs can confirm this. : (
After too many years of denial in allowing myself to truly FEEL my fears, my stress, my pain, my anxiety, in an effort to push through those moments, I've decided to embrace it all. Abandoning the food restriction mentality that clearly did nothing for me, except solidify that I would emo eat later, and continue a strange and windy road that I forced myself upon.
I am now trying to give MORE attention to rewiring my noggin and rewarding the 'homecoming' to the eating style I definitely had growing up (AKA normal eating). I'm kinda excited actually to be honest. To NOT sit near someone who is ordering off a menu, based off of their desire and true hunger, not torturing the waiter with menu changes - and silently hating them. Of course, I need to get well enough to get outta the house, but you know what I mean!
Speaking of brains, have you seen the advertisements for the Good Morning America anchor Dan Harris' new book? 10% Happier. How I tamed he voice in my head.
He had an anxiety attack on live TV a while back, and then went on a self help journey. The book pushes even just 5 minutes of meditation per day and how it can work wonders in your happiness bank account. I must say I am intrigued by it.
So what do you do when things get funky? You're a stressball over bills, maybe you've been sick for months and can't catch a break (or your breath)? When work is a bear (or the other B word)? How do you mellow out, bringing yourself back to being sane when your inner emotional brat wants to crunch out the stress?
Don't tell me that you come home and reach for a handful of carrots to satisfy that craving instead of chocolate covered peanuts. I won't believe you...
Prayer seems to be helpful for me, unless I fall off the food wagon (and under its wheels). Then I seem to feel almost too guilt ridden to pray, and I find I avoid it. Sad but true! Like I'm unworthy to pray. Who am I to say that God won't hear me because I have Nutella smudged on my chin? Why do I finish my prayers feeling like a shriveled raisin sometimes? What's that about?
Visualization is great, but I find I dwell too much on the old healthy (non Erythromelalgia) me, not just the smaller me. Then I get depressed and sad. It's the equivalent of bringing down that old box of photos that some of us have in the closet, and sitting on the floor in a puddle of wa-wa-wa's by reminiscing. Not the best kernel of self-help for me currently. Maybe I'll give that a do-over when I'm ready.
So getting back to one of the concepts in this book was to watch your breathing. Yes, I'm sure it can be helpful for slowing down the chow-monster as well as anxiety. You know, those moments ha here you hear your heartbeat in your head? The more and more I read and try to understand emotional eating, the more that I can see that my emo eating behavior IS a form of anxiety reaction.
Wait, that means I have anxiety issues too? That's just bittersweet then, like dried cranberries. I'm learning more about myself, but also know that there's more I need to work on. Ok. I'll embrace that.
Mindful eating is where my focus is at currently. Being mind-full and not food-full. It's not for the faint of heart, and I wish I could find a way to do some mental push ups when things get stressful. To better arm myself (pun!) to feel those stressy anxious moments. Not to eat them (and the bowl-full of them, then crumbs that fell on my shirt, and even those on the floor. Ack, did she just say that?!?).
I do find bits and pieces from all of these methods intriguing and in need of more practice from my end. I'm certainly glad that there are so many methods out there.
Yoga works for some, as well as intense workouts. Workout buddies are great too, but my mobility is growing more limited, so I am not storing my nuts of self reward in those methods currently. Get me a cure, and I promise to come back to this one!
I am tight with a few spark pals, and we try to stay in touch OFTEN. It keeps us accountable, and we probably stir in one (or all) of these self-help methods at one time or another. Sort of like a giant bowl of trail mix. Sometimes we pick out the Brazil nuts - and skip the visualization. Sometimes we go for the cherries and almonds - and channel our energy into writing. My point is, depending on the situation and our potential reactions, we tend to use what we hope works in that moment. I could use some company on this journey. Care to join me?
I'd love to know what YOU find successful, and if you haven't found something that works yet, you're not alone! Keep digging in that bowl until you find it. It's ok to fall. Just keep going!