Sunday, September 7, 2008

#16 What's Eating You?

I've received a number of requests asking me to re-visit issues that relate to diet, food and health. So, for those needing a loving kick in the buttinsky, here goes. I hope the following will inspire you to take the power away from food, seize opportunities to overcome emotional eating, and be kinder to yourselves when "accidents" happen.

Recently at my women's group meeting one of the members shared an interesting quote. I don't know the originator, but it came from a friend of hers who recently lost 70 pounds. I guess when you lose that much weight you figure out that, "It's not what your eating, it's what's eating you". Since I was taking notes when she said this, I didn't see anyone else's reaction. I know, without a doubt, what mine was; goose bumps all over.

Here's an example of how simpatico I've become with this quote. Just the other day I took my newly adopted dog for a walk. I'm working with him on being less dog aggressive. After 20 minutes of walking and having to cross the street more times than I want to mention, we came home. I mean, he had some great moments, but overall, had he not been on a leash, he may have done damage to a few other 4-leggers out for an after-dinner stroll. Anyway, we walk into the house and as I put the leash away I start to think about food, like I want something very sweet and I want it right now. But why? We had just finished dinner so I wasn't hungry and since I've continued eating the 'Oprah cleanse' way, I really haven't had cravings or what I call emotional food foraging. So, why was I feeling this way?

It wasn't until I was sharing the story in my women's group that I had an "aha moment". I realized that I wasn't doing right by either Iggy or me. Although I already love Iggy and think he's a great dog, it doesn't necessarily mean that others will.... especially if he's trying to sink his pearly canines into your dog's hind quarters. I realized that his problem was more than just love could handle. I was worried that perhaps this behavior wasn't treatable. I know from previous experience that this feeling, this unsettled feeling [I just don't have a name for it], this feeling of being lost, out of control, vulnerable can be a trigger for me to eat.

After I related this story to the group, I realized that this was perhaps the first time I was really able to identify the reason for food foraging and connect it to the emotion that I was having at that very moment. In the past, I used only two 'emotion words', angry and upset and I called my eating "fuck you" eating to deal with those emotions [remember the babble where I was waiting for my date, he was late, he didn't call to tell me that he would be late, I gorged at dinner]. Now, when I think about that experience, I understand what I was feeling. While waiting for my date, I was feeling vulnerable, not in control, disrespected. I didn't know then how to apply or perhaps I was scared to apply the true names to those feelings so I just did some retaliation eating to try to 'get back' at who was hurting me. Those of you who have done a little
f-u eating know, avenged and vindicated is not how you feel after you've forced down feelings with a pint of ice cream or a sleeve of oreo cookies. Since that meeting I've been looking back at instances when I 'foraged' because I was "angry or upset" and am now able to realize that I was "comfort eating" and not "f-u eating".

When you've allowed food to become an important source of companionship and stress relief in your life, you are entering a trap. When you deprive yourself of your companion and stress reliever, the trap snaps closed. This depriving yourself can make you feel abandoned, frustrated, lonely and even angry. If this sounds like you, ask yourself -- what's eating you? Dig deep. Be truthful. Be present. Acknowledge those feelings that you are forcing down with slices of pizza, spoonfuls of devils food icing and diet soda. Truthfully, I'm not sure a special key exists to release this trap. However, I'm 99% positive that the trap can't close if you become aware of, find ways to deal with, overcome, and seize control of those feelings that make you look to food for comfort and answers. I can picture a number of people right now who are struggling with their weight. I recommend taking your dog for a walk [metaphorically or literally]. You may just learn something about yourself.

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