Recently my overeating (and drinking) started bothering me again.
I don’t think I’m binge eating nearly as much as I used to, if at all. I don’t remember the last time I felt completely out of control and ate until I was in pain. The book I wrote about, Intuitive Eating, really was a game-changer in that regard.
However, I still felt like I had a terrible relationship with food and it was something I could better address.
The problem is, I fear deprivation. I’m terrified of feelings of displeasure and go to lengthy steps to ward them off. With food, that means overeating. I don’t want to be hungry later, not even a little bit. I eat as much as I can in the hopes that it will carry me through to the next meal without any hunger pains.
It makes sense why I would have this mentality. My mother, bless her heart, rather forgot, back when I was a growing teen, that my food needs were substantially larger than her other, much younger, children. Mealtimes were a race to the serving bowl to make sure I wound up with more than a few bites for my dinner.
Combine this lack of food with my mother’s remarks about me getting fat and needing to keep my size down, and it’s obvious why food issues developed.
(Mind you, I was not at all overweight as a teenager. My mother passed along the flawed and harmful lessons about weight and body size she had been taught, which is sad but not something I blame her for.)
I wasn’t given enough food. Simultaneously, I received messages telling me I needed to control my intake.
Thus, hunger was something to feel guilt and shame about. If I wasn’t so fat I would be fine with the amount I’d been given, or so my inner voice said.
This led to a lifetime of thinking of food as “bad” and hating my need of it, but binging and eating everything in sight whenever there was an opportunity to do so.
Clearly, I developed a ton of anxiety and emotional baggage around food and eating.
Happily, I recently had a breakthrough with my food issues.
I’ve always thought of myself as deeply flawed for my inability to control myself around food. It’s always been a source of great shame.
Yet the act of eating causes dopamine receptors to fire. It’s naturally something that is hard to resist. And as is the case with any problem, it can be managed. In this case, for me, it’s best managed with rules and structure.
Being someone who needs those rules and that structure needn’t be a source of shame or self-judgment, though.
I have started some new strategies. Or, rather, old strategies, executed in different ways and using different tools.
I’ve been loyal to SparkPeople since 2009, even though everyone else I know who tracks food and exercise uses MyFitnessPal for this purpose. I tried using MFP once many years ago and wasn’t a fan, but looked at it again yesterday and was seriously impressed with the improvements that had been made since I last checked it out.
My God, it is so much easier to use than SparkPeople. Holy cow! I can import recipes and automatically sync workouts with my tracker and sync weight with my scale, and the general food entry interface is so much more intuitive…
Why did I wait so long?
I’m actually excited to start tracking my food intake again.
If you want to add me as a friend on MyFitnessPal: https://www.myfitnesspal.com/profile/atwistonlifenow
Plus, I am doing better in terms of backup meals in case I haven’t gotten around to cooking. Having things on hand, either in freezer or cabinet, that I can grab quickly is incredibly important.
Otherwise, particularly for dinner, I often order delivery from nearby restaurants.
I really needed to stop doing that so often. It’s crazy expensive and terribly unhealthy.
I uninstalled the meal delivery apps from my phone. I have pledged to stop using them.
I know myself fairly well; if I make myself leave the house I’m as likely to hit the supermarket as I am a fast food drive-through. Even if I grab fast food, though, I can track my intake and work it into my nutritional goals for the day. This isn’t the case with the restaurant food I would otherwise get delivered.
The new strategies are thus far going well. I’m feeling better and more comfortable about my daily food intake. Knowing what I am eating and whether it is an appropriate amount, and I am getting the nutrients a body needs, makes me feel less anxious about food.
Though I’m definitely still overeating and making unwise choices at times, I feel good about my ability to conquer this challenge with structure and determination.
In closing, I give you a video of a very good totally innocent boy who was very obviously framed for this horrendous crime.
All images from buzzfeed.com/jamiejones/100-food-memes