Emotional Eating…

I’ve been thinking today as I sorted out my sewing box (how many buttons?!) and my stationery box (how many pens?!) about the how’s and why’s of my relationship with food, and what lies behind it.

I don’t know anyone, overweight or underweight, who doesn’t have problems with emotional eating, and in some ways I think it’s the hardest thing to step away from. Unlike with heroin or crack or alcohol where one just abstains from the substance to deal with the addiction with food we can’t, we all have to eat to survive.

And these are deeply ingrained behavior patterns melded into our psyche as children then carried through to adulthood where they become a subconscious belief – the belief that certain foods make us ‘feel better’.

What do we do with a crying baby? Feed it. How do we cheer a toddler out of a mood? Food. What do we reward children with when they clear their plates? Sweet food. (two lots of issues there – we are all trained not to ‘waste’ food from an early age so we stop noticing when we’re full). What do we have as treats on special days, holy days, birthdays? Food, food & more food.

It’s no big shocker that we associate food with comfort more than anything else. When we eat that bar of chocolate or packet of biscuits we are unconsciously reaching back through time to our first feeds, when food also meant being held close, safe & loved, with no worries or cares. That’s a really strong pull, and in essence it’s what we’re fighting.

I don’t know what makes the difference between people who have a healthy relationship with food and those who don’t. People who can have two chocolates and put the box away for another time. Maybe it’s nurture, maybe nature. I’m sure the answer would be worth millions!!

But I do know my eating issues started in my early twenties, and I’ve had them ever since. I can look back at times when I was really happy and the weight fell off, and then sometimes when I thought I was happy and the weight was piling back on anyway.

For years I’ve watched furtively as slim people ate chocolate bars or ice cream and thought “well they can have them, why should I go without”. Yes they. They (the slim people) are obviously a race of aliens with incredible willpower. Except no. They simply view food as fuel, enjoyable fuel but without the emotional baggage we attach to our eating.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know what it isn’t for me. Diets. Shakes. Low Carb/fat/protein. Intermittent fasting. Atkins. Weight watchers. Banning sugar. Spending three mornings a week at the gym. Yes, I’ve done all of these plus others over the past twenty eight years. And I’ve lost weight. And on it has gone again because I haven’t tackled the cause. My mind.

So for me the change I make now has to be permanent, and yes, if that means I calorie count for the next twenty years so be it. Because I can’t be trusted not to. Interestingly I’m not finding this hard. Difficult yes, but not hard.

I’m rediscovering a love for fruit and salad and veggies cooked well with flavour. I’ve found a wonderful organic granola that has no added sugar or fruit and its gorgeous. I’m remembering to reach for grapes or a carrot or a rice cake if I’m peckish. I’m actually planning meals on the days that I can cook, and enjoying preparing them.

Believe me when I say I could happily ditch this tomorrow, go back to eating mostly crap and put weight back on in a heartbeat. But you know what? I want this more. I don’t want to have to use an extender on plane seat belts. I don’t want to keep looking for the sturdier chairs. I don’t want to keep wearing shapeless tunics because they ‘cover the bumps’. And I don’t want doctors to be less concerned about my symptoms because they look at me & see fat. I want to remove that excuse from their arsenal.

But most of all I want… Leather trousers, 50th birthday 😎👖👢💛

As always comments & opinions are my own and not a substitute for speaking with a medical professional

Poem – Count

When the pain is so bad and you’re wanting to die, count the good stuff.

When your heartbeat betrays you by beating on regardless, when your breath keeps on coming in between sobs of pain, count the good stuff.

When the view is so bleak and the clouds are so black, when the rain and the cold and the pain knock you down, when you feel like a long distant shore may be home, because being pain free would beat being alone, count the good stuff.

When the tablets are calling and sleep is your friend, count the good stuff.

When the night is too long and the days never ending, when the bottle’s a friend and it doesn’t judge. When the bitter black anger screams this isn’t fair, this isn’t my life, I didn’t chose here. Count the good stuff.

In the worst of your pain you’re never truly alone, that’s the good stuff.

When you’re angry and wanting to scream at the day, when your damned limbs betray you and get in your way, when the pain is a physical beast that you fight, that tears it’s way inside your head deep at night, it’s the love that clings on and gives strength to your fight – that’s the good stuff.

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The Loss of Me

The weather is matching my mood this morning.  It’s dark and raining heavily and the wind is howling.  Much like inside my head today.

I occasionally get melancholic, it doesn’t last for long but it was here to greet me when I woke up this morning and it will probably stick around for the day.

I just feel a little overwhelmed.  I know this will pass, that it’s actually part of my mental process, I sometimes deal with things by diving into the sadness then finding the positives as my way out.

I know this has been brought on by RA, and the impact it’s currently having on my life.  It’s fair to say the last time I went through this much of a life change I was getting divorced.  And I wanted that!

What makes this harder is that I’m not feeling in control, RA is.  That’s very hard for me.  In simple terms RA impacts my health; impacts my ability to work; impacts my finances; impacts my accommodation; etc, you get the the picture.

I am currently under notice on my rental home, that makes this very real.  But it’s not about bricks and mortar, it’s about loss and grieving.  It’s very likely RA will impact on the rest of my life, as an independent female that grates a lot.

It has already taken my previous pain free existence, my social life, my enjoyment of silly alcoholic drinks on occasion, smoking (not a bad thing),  my gym membership, my working routine, my enjoyment in driving, and my enjoyment in cooking.  It’s also taken away my ability to employ a cleaner which frankly is a disaster!

Will I overcome these losses? Of course.  I will learn to find alternative things to fill my life, learn hacks to make things like cooking easier, learn to turn the losses into positives and make that climb back to ‘normal’.

But today, today I’m grieving and I’m ok with that.