“Though it’s oh so nice to get advice, it’s oh so hard to do.” Joe Jackson (the singer, not MJ’s father)
I don’t know how you guys do it, but one of you always manages to ask me a question I seem to be struggling with myself, although I don’t always know it at the time. Great minds fixate alike.
When people ask me a question, they’re seeking advice or some piece of wisdom I can pass on from my own experience. However, it’s one thing to give advice and another to take it, especially when the advice you’re giving is the advice you need to heed. But if we really believe in what we’re advising, then it’s not as hard to turn the mirror around and look honestly at the issue. At least this was true for me this morning when K wrote with this question:
“What I struggle with most is eating what I really shouldn’t. For instance, today I did so good at work, but I came home and ate junk. Why can’t I just reach for all the good things in my fridge when I feel like that? Honestly, I was really tired and could have used a nap, but I reached for the food.”
At first it seemed a straight up question, one I’ve answered before.
“K, it sounds to me like you need a time out – a few minutes is all – between deciding to eat and eating. Ask yourself EVERY TIME: ‘Why am I wanting/needing/reaching for this food?’ Then write down your answer in a notebook.
“If you’re hungry, eat. If not, deal with the feeling. Go for a quick walk, nothing fancy. It’s about thinking first, eating later. At least that’s what I’ve come to know.”
Then it hit me: I’ve been wanting to do exactly what K has been doing all week – eat when I’m not hungry and/or eat inappropriately – and I hadn’t given thought as to why. I’ve just been running on autopilot, eating (mostly) on plan and allowing my desire to eat run amok in my fuzzy, unfocused brain. Thank goodness for K because in replying, I woke up and realized just how much I’d been obsessing.
“I’m going to physical therapy in a few minutes. I’ve eaten breakfast, my body is satisfied, and yet I want to EAT because I’m nervous. Usually stress makes me not want to eat, but anticipating physical pain makes me want to soothe with food. I didn’t see this before, but now that I know, I will deal with the feeling. I’m afraid of the upcoming pain, but food will NOT solve that. Only a complete understanding and acceptance of the fear can help this situation.
“You (we) CAN do this. It’s a matter of retraining your brain and always, ALWAYS keeping your best interests in the forefront of every food decision you make. Also, just as you care enough to ask WHY you want to eat at a particular moment, care enough to feed your body the right foods. It all comes down to loving YOU.”
Recognizing that food has been a bigger issue for me this week than I realized helped me zero in on the emotion behind the desire to eat. Now that I get it, I can deal with it. What I can’t deal with is living in a food fog.
Ah, the crazy relationship(s) we have with food. DietGirl Shauna (Hi, chicka!) posted a link to this tongue-in-cheek essay from The Onion, “Fill Your Own Goddamn Emotional Void.” Because it’s from The Onion there’s a little profanity, but it’s a hilarious essay from the point of view of Food to the food obsessed.
I’d also like to dedicate the before-quoted Joe Jackson song, “Breaking Us In Two,” to Food, particularly this stanza:
Could we be much closer if we tried
We could stay at home and stare
Into each other’s eyes
Maybe we could last an hour
Maybe then we’d see right through
Always something breaking us in two
Watching the video this morning while answering K kept me away from the fridge long enough to focus. Thanks, Joe!
UPDATE from yesterday’s blog:
Things are looking up. PT is going well. Agoraphobia remains at bay. And I’m looking forward to this weekend and a visit from my dear WW online friend, CrispyRice, the same Crispy who visited me in the hospital. My normal life is slowly returning. Patience, patience.
Thank you, Tish, for the Shakespeare quote. My g-babies do make me very happy. And Jane, I understood (and related to) everything you wrote in your comment. I, too, found agoraphobia and anxiety embarrassing to admit having. I hope in writing your comment you found some peace with your past. Thank you so much for your support.