Can you see yourself in any of these statements below?
Every time I get stressed I tend to eat chocolate, too much chocolate. I don’t seem to have much control over it, and often can’t stop until the whole block is gone. (You could replace ‘chocolate’ with any other food, if you like).
I overeat at night.I keep snacking after dinner, even though I am completely full, I keep going to the fridge or pantry and eating, eating, eating. It takes a lot of will power to stop, and often I cant stop until I go to bed, or until i feel sick.
I was talking on the phone and suddenly realised I was standing in front of the fridge, half way through a block of cheese, and couldn’t even remember getting there. It feels like I am possessed and have no control over it. I eat despite myself and all my efforts.
I don’t just eat food, I inhale it. Chips, chocolate, ice cream; it has to be sweet or salty or both. And fatty. I can’t stop and then I feel sick and mad with myself. But it brings some relief as well.
There are sweets and cakes at work and I can’t walk past without grabbing a slice. I am not even hungry, but I can’t walk pass and not eat something.
I think about food all day long, it is like an obsession, and even though i try to eat healthy I end up bingeing on some foods that I shouldn’t be eating. And I hate myself for it. I hate myself for being so weak.
There are many ‘ways’ to overeat. Don’t let yourself be fooled by definitions, descriptions and labels. If you don’t like what you are doing, if you lose control over your behaviours and if you feel that something is wrong – it is. You feel it, no one else can tell you if your relationship with food is satisfying or soul crushing. But you know!
Your eating ‘style’ may differ from the next person’s. It doesn’t matter. It may be that you are eating big quantities quickly, ‘inhaling’ food (one of my clients described it that way), eating so much you end up feeling swollen and sick. Your stomach cramping. Hating yourself, your life, your lack of will power. Too embarrassed to go out the day after. Calling sick at work and feeling like a failure.
Or maybe you end up eating everything from the cupboard at night, until there is nothing left but canned corn. Hiding wrappers from your spouse and children. Trying to have a bit of chocolate and eating the whole block. Unable to stop. Asking, ‘why?’, ‘why do I do it?’ and ‘what is wrong with me?!’
Or eating so damn healthy all week, only to spoil it with a few blocks of chocolate on the weekend. Watching your body gain weight, weighting yourself every day in a hope of some ‘good news’.
Or maybe you are obsessing about every dinner party you have to go to, because you aren’t sure what food they would serve. What if you eat too much? What of you eat breads? What if you eat desert? What if you eat unhealthy, wrong foods and end up eating too much.
Or maybe you eat all the time, more of a over-grazing than bingeing. Eating all day long, during the meals and in between the meals, eating things high in sugar and low in nutrients, things that are, as you have learnt lately, somewhat addictive.
Addiction explains things so well, because of the compulsive nature of what you do. You can’t stop, food has all the power, you have none. But when you try to avoid the foods that are ‘addictive’, it only makes things worse. WHY? You conclude that the addiction must be worse than you thought. And the battle with ‘evil’ foods grows into a war. But things don’t seem to get any better. WHY?
Is it really an addiction?
Maybe. It is possible to have more cravings after eating sugar or gluten, the body wants more. But the compulsive element, the part that feels like something takes over and makes you eat, goes waaaaay beyond the physical addiction. Nothing can have that much power unless deep and intense emotions are involved.
While I write a lot about emotions here in this blog what I want to say in this post is quite simple. Don’t let yourself be fooled that any of this compulsive over-eating is about diet, physical addiction to sugar or not enough will power. It is all about soothing the big hairy beast that chokes your throat and binds your chest.
It is much simpler than you think. And so much more complex too. You want to feel good about yourself. But you made it conditional on you body, your life, your eating being perfect. You want this perfection because you believe that once you are there – in this perfect body, eating salads only with great joy, in a perfect job with a perfect partner and in a perfect house, you would be able to love yourself then.
But because there is nothing you want more than you feel good about yourself, love yourself more, you feel impatient about your body, you situation and your eating. There is a voice somewhere there, inside of you, insisting that you can’t feel good about who you are unless you are perfect.
Question this voice.
As yourself why can’t you feel good about yourself right now? Why can’t you be happier?
Question why it feels so conditional.
And then let go of this crazy idea that anything needs to be perfect. Because if you could even get to a place where everything about you and your life would be perfect, you would be very happy. For about 3 days. And then the boredom would creep in and the stagnation would creep in and the lack of things to strive for would bore you to death.