Thursday, February 5

Emotional Eating

Emotional eating. 
For me, food is comfort. 
I wish I could say it's because I grew up in a large ethnic family where mealtime was a celebration. Kind of the opposite. Food was not an abundant joy to be lingered over, but preparing it was a chore and eating it was...well...average. You ate your food. You ate what you were given. If it was something you didn't like, it sucked to be you. If it was something you did like, you tried to get as much as possible because who knew when you'd have it again?
We grew up like the typical poor-but-not-impoverished American family. Uncomplicated casseroles were generally the star of our mealtimes. Tuna casserole and stroganoff were particular favorites, both of which I refuse to eat to this day. We had a lot of soup and sandwiches - which is a lot more than most people have, I must admit.  Macaroni & cheese in various incarnations featured prominently in our food rotation and often with hot dogs. For me, to this day, macaroni & cheese is a loaded food. For me it is love, comfort, feeling nurtured, literally like a warm hug in a bowl. It is also painful, confusing, resentment, wondering why my family lived on mac & cheese and PB&J while other families had fresh fruit, roast chicken and potatoes, good lunch meat with the expensive lettuce. 
I should say my parents did what they could. They were not terrible people by any stretch. Of course we are all fallible and make mistakes, but my parents weren't evil. When it concerns food, they had a strict budget and made it work. They did what they could to feed two adults and three children and get some form of nutrition into our bellies. This was also the 80's, when pasta was considered king, everyone drank Kool-Aid like it was going out of style, barely anyone had even heard of kale, and organic veggies were for hippies. 
I didn't grow up with a propensity for drugs or alcohol because (for the most part) I hated that feeling of losing control. I had to be in control. So when I wanted to "be bad" - I ate food.
Fast forward to adulthood. 
As a child, I never learned to trust my body. In fact, quite the opposite. As an adult, I basically had no clue what the hell I was doing. I worked hard and lost weight over a long period of time, but I still ate too much and often not healthy foods. 
For me, a big thing is the noise-noise-noise of the diet and health industry and also everyone's well-intentioned-because-it's-right-for-them-but-is-really-just-more-noise ideas of what to do.

Eat fat to burn fat. Go vegetarian. But soy is bad for you. Go vegan. You probably will lack a lot of vitamins and protein though. Sugar is the devil. No, artificial sweetener is the devil. Some vegetables are basically sugar. Basically anything that has any form of sweetness in it is the devil. Carrots are too starchy, they are bad for you. But carrots have vitamins your body needs. Just eat clean and you'll lose weight. It's all the chemicals that are bad for you. (Seriously, eating clean is an undertaking more costly and involved and emotionally draining than buying a house, I swear.) No, no, see, just watch your fat grams. Actually, just cut out dairy because dairy is the devil. No, gluten is the devil. Actually, wheat is the devil. Red meat is the devil. Processed foods are the devil. It's just calories in, calories out.
You kind of end up feeling like:

angry animated GIF

And as the dust settles, you finally reach that point where you're like: 

Fuck this, I'm out.

And that's where I'm at now. So what am I doing? 
I'm working on checking in with myself emotionally. Listening to my body. Slowing down my eating. Blocking out the noise and listening to myself, my own body. Being more conscious of my emotions. Asking myself questions. Being more aware and more importantly, more accepting of what I'm feeling or wanting or - well, anything. All of it. 
My struggles with depression and anxiety and my struggles with food and eating are two sides of the same coin; they are irrevocably tied together and one will never truly heal one without healing the other. My issue is not one of needing to keep my calories within X amount per day, or needing to eliminate all of this or that from my diet or needing to have my food pre-measured or anything. It's a matter of listening to my body and and my feelings and deciphering true hunger. Slowing down and chewing and being more aware of the moment instead of numbing out. It's about knowing why I'm eating what I'm eating and accepting it and stopping when I'm full instead of keeping on until I'm stuffed and my emotions are dulled. 

So when I say, fuck this, I'm out, I don't mean I'm giving up. I mean, I am working on finding my own path of healing and self care, doing what I need to do for me, because that is the only way I will truly get better. 

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