Posts tagged food

punishment.

Today in therapy (I love my therapist), I talked a lot about the binge eating cycle that I’ve gotten myself back into.  I eat. A few cookies, a little bit of chocolate, something. And then I feel bad/guilty for eating. And then I feel that I need to be punished for being bad. And so my punishment is to eat more. Finish the box, or the bag, or the carton. And I don’t enjoy that at all. I’m sitting there, stuffing M&Ms into my face, and I’m feeling physically sick.

One of the things I’m discovering is that, sure, it’s emotional eating, but there are fifteen bajillion different emotional reasons. It’s not just one emotion there. I don’t just binge when I’m sad. I binge when I’m happy, when I’m tired, when I’m frustrated, when I’m anxious, when I’m excited, and when the moon is waning gibbous. It’s almost like there isn’t a pattern… but there is. There’s a lot of patterns, is all.

I just need to deconstruct and unravel them. And then weave the scraps into something more useful and pleasant.

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hiatus.

It’s been a really long time since I wrote anything. Damn.

I’m off the wagon.  I need to get back ON the wagon. Sean doesn’t know. I am scared to tell him. I know that he doesn’t read this, so this isn’t some half-assed cop-out telling.

In good news, though, I started therapy.  We haven’t been talking about food issues, per se, but a lot of what we’ve been talking about touches on my food issues. Control, permissions, comfort, rebellion, punishment; it’s all in there.

I *heart* my therapist. Hope she can help with this food shit, because it’s getting old.

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comfort.

Everyone has their own very special comfort foods. I have a lot of them. Depends on what kind of comfort I’m looking for. Miss my mom? Something savory and creamy, like fettuccine alfredo. PMS? Peanut butter cups. General depression/angst/cloudy day? Ice cream.  I’ve had to work on reconfiguring my comfort food needs, because a lot of what I consider to be comfort food is now mostly off-limits these days. I have been eating much more in the way of salty snacks lately. This is probably sub-optimal, but it’s probably also better for me than eating lots of sugary snacks, so I’m going to let it slide.

I was talking to Sean during dinner tonight about food (no, really!), and how Christopher was eating pretty much everything we put in front of him (cheese, bananas, pasta, salmon, roasted red peppers, eggs), and how I was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to grow up being a picky eater (knock wood). I was a picky eater as a child, and I know it was probably difficult for my mom to deal with. Heck, I was a picky eater well into adulthood. I still am, but it’s not nearly as severe. I’ll try almost anything, as long as it doesn’t have strawberries in it. Almost.

Sean observed that a lot of my reluctance to try new foods comes across as fear to him. I thought for a moment, and realized that he was right. There is fear there. See, because I am such an emotional eater, just about every food I eat is comfort food, to some extent. If I try a new food, I might not like it, and if I don’t like it, I don’t get any comfort out of it. He’s learned to introduce new stuff to me slowly, and almost always when I’m in a relatively good mood to begin with. As long as I feel safe, and as long as there is something familiar that I can eat as a back-up, I’m comfortable trying new things.

I was talking to another friend earlier today. She has similar food issues with regards to emotional eating and boredom eating. She and her husband were enjoying an Ecstacy trip together, and she said something that really struck me: “I’m filled with joy, and I’m not eating anything!” Made me realize that I really need to get to work on figuring out where else (other than food) I can find reliable joy. As long as I’m on Zoloft, Ecstacy’s not really an option (not to mention, it’s a pretty damn temporary fix).

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halloween.

I’ve been avoiding writing about halloween for a while. I have the bare beginnings of a draft sitting in my draft pile that’s been there for weeks. I’d been dreading even thinking about the holiday, because it’s so utterly saturated in sugar.

Last year (and the year before, and probably the year before that (etc etc etc), I adored halloween. I looked forward to the mass of “fun size” candy, so many more varieties than there usually were. And candy corn! I could buy a tub of candy corn and eat the whole thing! Seriously, I would stop by Bartell’s every goddamn morning and buy a big bag of candy, and by the time I left work it would be entirely gone. That’s a lot of candy. That’s a scary amount of candy. Appropriate, no?

And so, I was worried about halloween this year. Every time I’d go to the grocery store, there they would be, staring me in the face. Bag after bag of candy. My favorite kinds. Kit Kats. Reeses Sticks. Dove Bites. 100 Grand. Twix. Old friends, lying there on the shelves, whispering “buy me! you know you want to…”

But I didn’t. Every time I walked past, I really wanted to. I wanted to buy two or three bags and take them home and hide them and eat and eat and eat. But I didn’t.

Sean asked me periodically, “what’s your plan for halloween?” I didn’t have an answer. I always replied that I was thinking about it. Really, I wasn’t. I was trying very hard to pretend that halloween didn’t exist. Well, the day before halloween rolled around, and I had to face the facts — we needed candy to hand out to the trick-or-treaters. I knew that we would be getting lots of them; our neighborhood is full of kids. So, I did the only reasonable thing that I could think of. I bought candy that I didn’t like to hand out. The plan was Snickers (I don’t like nuts in my chocolate), but the store didn’t have any, so I got Nutrageous bars instead. And then Jujyfruits, or whatever the hell they’re called. God, I hate those things. I didn’t stoop quite so low as to buy a bag of Necco wafers, however. I still have some pride. And… it worked. The candy was in the house for over 24 hours, and I didn’t have any of it.

However.

Saturday, I went to that women’s health day at Swedish, which I wrote about previously. They fed us lovely box lunches. Mine included a chocolate chip cookie. No problem. It’s just one cookie. And it was good, too.

Fast forward to late afternoon/early evening. I’m hanging out with Sonja. She pulls down the bowl o’ candy (giveaway leftovers from both our house and Sean’s mom’s house) and grabs something. I think to myself, “hey, I should have something, too…” and I eat a little fun pack of M&Ms.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon. Sean’s little sister Robyn is having a small birthday thing. We all go over to Sean’s mom’s place for cake. I eat chocolate cake. I stand there and stare at the chocolate cake. My mind is racing. Cake. I want cake. How can I get more cake? Maybe I can come over tomorrow and Bette will let me have more cake. She won’t want to eat it all herself. She’ll just offer it to me. Maybe I could go home and make a cake. CAKE. I want to eat it. I want to eat the cake. Please let me eat the cake. There’s got to be some way I can eat lots and lots of cake.

Holy shit. That, my friends, is the voice of a serious addiction.

It’s subsided since then, but it’s still there.

As a result of this weekend, I have a couple of new sugary-food rules.

  1. No desserts without Sean.
  2. One dessert a week, tops.

It’s scary how quickly my mind flipped back into must-eat-sugar mode. It’s like I turned into a sugar zombie, single-minded in my search for sweet sweet brains. It would be so damn easy to slip back into that space. This is going to be a lifelong struggle for me, and not only does that make me feel sad, but I also kind of resent it. Life isn’t fair.

Oh well.

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memories.

My father and his wife are in town visiting his grandson. This is difficult for me; he and I have always had a somewhat strained relaitonship for various reasons which I don’t really have the energy to get into right now. Suffice it to say that I’m stressed. And when I’m stressed, what I really want to do is curl up with a nice big pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

Can’t do that.

Okay, okay, technically I can do that, but I’m not letting myself do that. Instead, I’m busting into tears on the way home after picking Sean up from work, freaking out in the kitchen, and then hiding out in the bedroom with the laptop while Sean and Critter play in the living room.

I was thinking earlier about high school. About how, once I had my license, I would stop at the store after rehearsals to buy those aforementioned pints of ice creamy goodness. About how I would sneak them up to my room when I got home and eat them furtively. About how, when I didn’t have enough cash on me to do that, I would instead mix up a bowl of confectioner’s-sugar-and-water “frosting”, and sneak that up to my room for the furtive eating.

I think there was a lot of “nobody loves me. I guess I’ll eat, because it tastes good and it’s not like anyone will notice and/or care if I gain fifteen million pounds” in my actions. And the problem is, I was kind of right. I went from a size 16 up to a size 22 during high school. My mom noticed, I’m sure, but she never said anything. I can kind of understand that; she has dealt with her own weight-related demons for her whole life, and she probably thought that if she said anything, it would destroy whatever shreds of self-esteem I had left. I wish she’d said something. I might have gotten off of the path I was on a lot sooner.

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yummy.

Foods in “bar” form have always broken down into one of several categories for me:

  • Chocolate (NOM NOM NOM, but not what I’m eating these days)
  • Granola, chewy (also mostly NOM NOM NOM, especially the ones with chocolate in them)
  • Granola, non-chewy (GROSS)
  • Fruity, with strawberries (allergic to strawberries)
  • Fruity, without strawberries (always full of other things I don’t like, such as nuts)
  • Generic “healthy” (cardboard-textured, cardboard-flavored)

I spent a while in the “bar” section at the grocery store the other day, and came out with something to try: Kashi Baked Apple Spice TLC Cereal Bars. They seemed the most likely to not have an annoying texture, they weren’t loaded with sugars, they were strawberry-free, they had the proper ratio of bar-to-filling, and they were on sale.

Tried one today. I liked it. Yay! Another healthy snack alternative!

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struggle.

My friend Hollie, over at grass|dirt|corn has been writing a lot about the changes in her diet lately, and her struggles with those changes.  I’ve been thinking a lot about my parallels with her life (and there always do seem to be a lot of them), but not really writing about them. I mostly just talk with Sean.

Well. Maybe I’ll write some.

I have an eating disorder. Emotional eating, comfort eating, not-thinking-about-it eating, hiding-food-so-i-can-eat-it-without-anyone-finding-out eating, binge eating, you name it. Everything except NOT eating. (An aside: I tried that once, in high school. I lasted about 8 hours.)

Almost three weeks ago now, I joined a gym. I had been meaning to do this for months, but finally had enough money in the bank (thank you, Uncle Sam!) to be able to sign up without asking Sean for money. That way, it’s my responsibility, and I’m the one whose wallet is on the line here. I don’t need the added guilt of wasting Sean’s money if I fall over on this thing.

I’ve been doing really well with the gym. I have been 8 times so far, since the 25th of August. And on the weekends, Sean and I have done outdoorsy hike things, which have been hard but fun, and good for me. I am really motivated to succeed again, and Sean is being really supportive. I have set things up for myself so that I have very few excuses for not going — I wear my gym clothes when I drop Sean off at work, and go to the gym directly without stopping at home. They have child care available for Christopher, which he’s doing well with. I am taking classes as well as working out on my own, and the classes are also kicking my butt. I am pushing myself to do more reps and heavier weights, even without a personal trainer looking over my shoulder. So, hooray for me.

When I started, I thought to myself, what good is all this going to do me if I still eat like crap?

So I sat down with Sean, and told him that I was going to stop eating like crap. I came clean about how I would actually plan my days around going to the store and getting pints of ice cream and/or bags of cookies. About how I would hide food around the house so that I would still have junk available when I didn’t have the car available. About how I would run into the kitchen the instant my kid fell asleep for his nap and grab the junk food.  I’m still not quite sure that he gets just how bad it actually was. I avoided talking about the actual amounts of food I ate. One bag of cookies? Two pints of Ben & Jerry’s? A pound of M&M’s? Yeah. That’s me, the eating machine. Step right up, watch the show. Or, rather, don’t watch, because I never really ate this way when there was anyone else around.

Hollie’s dad told her that a lot of folks with a genetic predisposition for alcoholism instead become sugar addicts.  I can totally believe that. I used to be a binge drinker, but stopped drinking cold turkey something like six years ago.  That was easy compared to this. As Sean pointed out to me, I don’t need alcohol to live. Sugar, on the other hand? Yeah. Kind of necessary for survival. The trick is to not eat too much sugar, and to eat the right kinds of sugar. Easy. Right. Easy as chocolate fucking creme pie.

Since that day, I’ve come up with a couple of rules for myself.

  1. I will not buy sugary junk when I am shopping by myself.
  2. I will not eat sugary junk unless I am with another adult.
  3. I can eat sugary junk when I am out at a restaurant, but I have to split it with someone.
  4. I will always have some kind of snack food in the house (chips, crackers, pretzels, fruit) that I can eat if I need to partake in comfort eating.

So far, so good. Sean is being really amazingly supportive of me with this; he has stopped drinking sugared drinks (oh, yeah. Rule 5 is that I am allowed to slam a Mountain Dew if I have a migraine and don’t have any migraine meds with me) like pop and Sobe, instead only having water and 100% fruit juices. He’s totally noticed a change; he actually gets hungry mid-afternoon and has to have a snack (and now keeps snacks at his desk for this purpose). I have a feeling it’s keeping his blood sugar on a more even keel (which means that his emotions are tending to be on a more even keel, as well).

I’ve noticed a couple of changes on my end, as well. I get really hungry around 7PM. This is great, because it means that we eat dinner earlier and all three of us can have dinner at the same time, rather than putting Critter to bed and then having a just me-and-Sean meal. And, when I get really hungry, I don’t eat as much at a sitting as I used to. I guess my stomach is just that much smaller than it was.

When I make changes in my life, they easily become habit if I stick with them for a month or so. I’m over halfway there with this one. I’m even managing to avoid the sugary crap during PMS, which is amazing.  The emotional habits, on the other hand, are not quite so easy to break.

Food = Comfort

I learned this at an early age. Did you have a bad day? Have a cookie. Grab a couple of bowls of ice cream and we can sit and do the crossword puzzle together. That’s pretty deeply programmed in my brain. I’ve been pondering therapy to help with it, but I’m not sure if I’m really ready for that step.

There’s a lot of pretty fucked-up thinking going on in my head, though. The other day, I was at the store, looking at the donuts, and I found myself really wanting to buy them. Because if I bought them, and ate them, I would have to tell Sean that I’d messed up. And then he would offer me sympathy and tell me how strong I am and how good a job I’m doing, and that it’s okay to fall every once in a while, and give me lots of love and attention and comfort. Instead, I went home and told Sean what had happened, and he offered me sympathy and told me how strong I am and how good a job I’m doing, and gave me lots of love and attention and comfort.

So. This is not a diet blog. Or an exercise blog. This is just somewhere that I might write about things once in a while. And a lot of my life right now is about my food struggles, so that’s what I wrote about this time.  Maybe someday I’ll actually write something more cohesive.

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