This morning’s weigh-in:
Last post I wrote a little about how my mental state plays into the choices I make when it comes to food. Let’s pull that notion apart a little. THIS IS GONNA BE A BLAST.
It usually follows the same pattern: some negative emotion arises (for example, boredom, anxiousness, and sadness are my top repeat offenders, in order of most common) and the way I most commonly try to dissipate those emotions is with a routine. The repetition is like a reassuring hug, it tells me, “you are in control. Everything is going to be ok. Everything is ok.” Pizza after work soothes me. A cookie after pizza soothes me. It took me a long time to figure this out. It took me gaining 50 lbs to look at my food habits and try to discern why I do what I do.
I always felt like I didn’t understand people who used food for comfort, but I thought that without spending any time investigating my own relationship with food. Let’s look at a case study from yesterday. What a lucky boy I am that I fucked up my food habit that recently!
Yesterday I had a migraine, first in my life. I went home from work with it after asking my boss if he had ever had a headache that messed with his vision. It felt like I had new glasses, my perspective was all distorted, and I had this weird numbness traveling down my arm, up my neck & into my face. That’s happened to me before; usually it coincides with a panic attack. But this time it felt different. Thankfully my boss let me go.
I was dog tired, despite having had a good night’s sleep the night before. As soon as I got home I crawled into bed. I slept for three hours straight. When I woke up, I had my good lunch in the fridge that I didn’t eat at work–my salad I have every day. But I was feeling weird and worried and still had a wee headache I was afraid was going to turn into something worse. I was feeling anxious. How do I solve that? Repetition. I self-soothe with food. So I went to Whole Foods and bought a veggie sandwich. Not bad, right? Yeah, not bad.
But I also bought a box of ice cream bars and ate the whole damn thing that night.
But still, I went to the gym in the morning, and so the damage done by the ice cream wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I fucked up with the ice cream, no doubt. But I still went to the gym and I chose Whole Foods over pizza spot. So I am making better choices. I’m still in process. I’m still changing my habits. This is what the middle looks like between the rewarding before and after comparisons.
So how will I try to change this well worn habit of self-soothing with food?
I don’t know.
I could say I will replace my garbage food with healthy food, but that feels too vague to be effective. I’ll still try it, though. I think it’s all part of the process. I think I have to talk to my therapist about this. (She’s the appointment I have every Wednesday morning that I skip the gym for. She’s been my therapist for almost ten years. She’s awesome. If you have the means, I highly suggest you find a therapist that works for you, and stick with them.)
I think I’ll have to replace the food with something I find just as comforting. Maybe an activity. Meditation? It helps me to calm down, but I can’t say I love it. What I do love, surprisingly? Going to the gym. It’s only been a couple weeks and already I look forward to my time there. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it post-migrane, but who knows? Maybe I’m wrong. For now, I’m going to try using meditation and walks (at the Lake or at the gym) instead of food to comfort myself. I’ll let you know how it goes, and what my therapist says about all this.
I know I’m getting better at noticing when I’m eating out of boredom, though. And I’m better at noticing when I think I’m hungry but really I’m thirsty. So there are victories here, imbedded in the setbacks.