Not too long ago I had a conversation with a good friend that included a sort of question and answer session about food. I’ve kind of become that person around here that people sometimes come to with questions about what to eat and what not to eat. Most people stop asking when they realize that I’m only going to confirm what they already know. If you’re living off of drive-thru fare and soda, you don’t need me to tell you what to do to lose weight or get healthy. You could even spend money every month on a gym membership or whatever, but we all know, even with exercise, you cannot out-train a bad diet. That’s the obvious stuff. The less obvious stuff is when someone–like me for instance–is doing all they can, eating what they think is healthy food, working out, counting calories, carbs, fat grams, points, whatever… and they still can’t lose. Then, you’re probably a victim of the diet industry and the lies they tell you to get rich, or… you’re not being honest with yourself about what you’re really putting in your mouth, and therefore your body. I am an example of someone who really, really tried to do it by the good ol’ “calories in, calories out” philosophy, complete with bodybugg monitoring and all. I believe that the flaw was not in the calorie quantity, but calorie quality. Just staying at or below a certain number of calories is not necessarily fueling your body. Anyways–that’s another post for another time–back to this convo with my friend…. Well, this friend began to list to me the “reasons” (ie..excuses) regarding their eating habits and choices. Excuses, excuses, I will be the first to tell you that I have made my share of them. Weight loss, diet, exercise, it comes down to one thing…commitment. (But even that is for a separate post)
My focus today is something we can all relate to, no problem, and that is EMOTIONAL eating. OMG!! As soon as William goes through the work calendar and tells me he’s going to be gone Monday to Friday twice next month–all I can think is… DORITOS!! My go-to comfort food, good buddy, never let me down friend in good times and bad. Me and Doritos (sigh), we go way back.
So there are at least a hundred emotions that make us resort to taking comfort in a big bag of deep-fried potato, corn or some form of sweetened batter. Like…anger, sadness, loneliness, embarrassment, jealousy, joy, boredom, worry, resentment, grief, self-pity, self-celebration, anxiety, fear, and so on and so on. It happens so fast for me I don’t even have time to register the actual emotion. I was just sitting there and then all of a sudden I had a bag of Doritos in my hand and then all of a sudden it was empty. So how do we combat this demon and exorcise it once and for all? Could it be? Do I have the answer to the age-old emotional eating dilemma? Of course not people, who am I? But I do have some experience in this particular realm and so I can tell you what works for me when I feel it coming. And yes, it may happen fast, but I know it’s coming every time.
SO… to begin with–SLOW DOWN! WAIT!! Take a moment to identify the emotion in question and then… just FEEL it. So you’re sad, well BE sad for a minute then. I mean, sad stuff happens in life. My friend was dealing with grief, or NOT dealing with grief, and so instead my friend was eating the grief. Losing someone you love is unbearable sometimes, and it comes in waves, those flashes of memory that take your breath, making you smile and cry all at once. I think when it comes to grief the best way to deal with it is to REMEMBER. Don’t push all your memories away in a box like this loved one never existed. Talk to the person, get up and say, “Hey Ma, I know you’re up there. Guess what I’ve got going on today? You won’t believe this…” Tell your kids a story about the person you lost. Light a candle for em, just seriously, I’m not trying to be cliche, but really, keep them alive in your heart. And always, always ask the question about any emotion, “Will the food change the situation?” Will the Big Mac bring back my brother, friend, or even my pet? (Yes people, that can be some serious stuff!) Will the dozen doughnuts put more money in the bank? Will the fries and milkshake cure my friend of cancer? Will the whole cake make my birthday any more special than it is right now? The answer is always, definitively, and undoubtably NO! All it changes is how you feel about yourself in 20 minutes. So again, just FEEL what you’re feeling for a moment. But then–Get Over It! I know I know, so easy to say so hard to accomplish…anyways…
Next… I MOVE. I get out of the house and therefore the kitchen, I take my dogs for a walk, get some air, and just keep moving. Eventually the desire to totally binge eases up and now I think I’ll only eat half the bag of Doritos. So I keep walking and breathing until I feel that I can look at that bag and tell it…that I don’t need it after all. You don’t have dogs or a place to walk in those moments you say? Well, DANCE–#1 cure for all heart-sickness in my humble opinion. Why not just go do a couple flights of stairs in your building? Or if you’re working, just work HARDER for a little while. Again, I don’t have the solution, just my own tactics to offer you. But your body follows your mind I think so just do something with your body so your mind forgets the foot-long sub in the fridge.
Then… Unload. Talk someone’s head off! Surely someone will listen. If not…journal, blog, put in on facebook, whatever. Get those emotions OUT–Dump em on someone else! Not so they can get all depressed or whatever, but chances are if they’re a real friend, they’ll encourage you, uplift you, make you laugh, or give a good ole serving of tough love to help you get it together. But that’s what we’re here for…to share each other’s lives, good and bad, and help each other out. You know the famous words, “Keep smilin’, keep shinin’, knowin’ you can always count on me…for sure..that’s what friends are for”
So that’s what I do when I feel an emotional binge coming on. I apologize to you now if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of my “unloading,” but I also thank you thank you thank you for being a friend and giving me a chance to let it out. I do battle with food every day. I know my enemies and they sometimes get me down and wounded, but I am committed to this fight and I will prevail!! Doritos, you have not seen the last of me yet!!!