I’m shaking, I’m so angry! As I sit here devouring a piece of cheesecake because that was the most delicious, convenient thing I could think to comfort me, I decided it’s time to finally write about my awesome food addiction. No, it’s not awesome, but it’s there and calling it awesome makes me feel just a little better!
Something happened to me about a half hour ago and it just totally pissed me off. And my way of dealing with being pissed off – or happy, depressed, bored, scared, insecure – is to eat! From a young age, I started using food as a comfort. For whatever reason, food just felt so good and so I’ve kept it around all these years. I won’t go into details of my childhood (and I know people have gone through far worse than I have!), but let’s just say there were difficult times. And, not knowing this at the time, I turned to food. I remember always being a little bit bigger than all my friends, but I was never seriously overweight, so it just looked to everyone else (and myself) that I liked food.
Fast forward to adulthood. I still hear those tormenting words in my head every time I make a mistake. The words I heard yelled at someone else, but took so personally to myself. The words I can’t get out of my head and sincerely believe about myself.
And that’s how I learned that I was turning to food to comfort me. Of course, now that I’m more aware of what I’m doing, I can see that the comfort lasts for mere seconds and then I just feel the initial pain in addition to the guilt of making poor food choices.
As you can tell, food is emotional to me. Not only do I love the taste, I use it to make me feel better in many different ways. And I think about it all the time. I know it sounds odd to say I have a “food addiction”. I know a lot about “real” addictions and I feel like a food addiction just seems fake in comparison. But the power that food has over me is all too real. Food is so deeply seated in my being, it’s more than just counting calories or “eating healthier”.
I started reading a book called Intuitive Eating a few months ago because I was sick of dealing with my food problems and didn’t want to turn to yet another diet. Intuitive Eating is really about listening to your body and being in tune with what your body wants. You listen to your hunger cues and when you’re full (or just before that), you stop eating. You can actually have cheesecake and not feel guilty about it! Win! There is a section about eating healthier, too, but of course I stopped reading it when I got that far! Surprise! But I can tell the book is helping me so much already. I’m learning about how I use food and how to become more in tune with what I’m putting in my mouth. These are a few things I’ve learned so far …
* I don’t actually need to eat first thing in the morning. I used to think I needed to eat the second I got up in the morning, but the better I eat and the more I really think about what I’m eating, the more I realize I’m not actually hungry first thing in the morning and I can wait an hour or so till I’m hungry.
* I’m really into meal times. I feel like I need to eat a meal at traditional meal times even if I’m not hungry. Even if I ate my dinner at 4:30 because I was starving, you better believe by dinner time (5:30 or so), it’s time for me to eat a second dinner because it’s “dinner time”.
* I eat when I’m stressed – like I said before. Pretty much every emotion prompts me to eat!
* I eat when I’m baking/cooking. I eat the ingredients as I go, adding more calories to my day.
* When I eat “like crazy” as I like to call it (binging is probably a better word), I am constantly unsatisfied. I eat something salty and then need something sweet to balance it out. And then need something salty to balance that out. And so on and so on. It’s never satisfying to me because I’m eating to eat, not to nourish my body or actually feed my hunger. When I eat because I just feel like eating, I can tell the level of satisfaction drops immensely.
I’m no pro at any of this and haven’t even finished any of my “weight loss” books, but I’m very slowly seeing a change in myself. I need to constantly remind myself that this is a life long change, not a diet.
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On a side note, Marian (Miss Mustard Seed) and I have decided to do the Whole30 challenge. You can read more about it here. Basically, you don’t eat sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, or drink alcohol for 30 days. Personally, I’m kind of against diets because I think they just give power to food and food shouldn’t be “good” or “bad”, so I’m doing this challenge with a different mindset. I’m not looking at it as a diet. I want to push myself in a way I never have before. I’m mostly doing this to see if I can break some of my food addictions – being without sugar and dairy scares the crap out of me! – but also just as a challenge to see if I can do it. I know it will feel so empowering to get through these 30 days and know I did something healthy for myself!
If you want to be added to our Facebook Whole30 support group, let me know in the comments below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add you! The challenge starts January 1st!