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Friday, June 11, 2010

#21: Anti-bridal diet update (part 1): Diary of an emotional eater

You frequently hear people, mostly women, say that they are "emotional eaters". And most of us don't need a background in psychology to know what this means.

So last week I decided to take note of exactly what I was thinking and feeling every time I ate when my body wasn't hungry. Here's what I came up with:

Situation: My dad and I were sitting in the kitchen and I felt the urge to give him a gift certificate for marriage counseling. But of course who in the right mind would do that, right? (And more importantly, he wouldn't use the gift certificate even if my mom wanted to.) 
Emotions: frustration, anger, helplessness   
Food of choice: As much Wheat Thins and brie cheese I could stuff in my mouth over the course of 15 minutes. (That equals more food than you think - when I'm angry I eat at a frantic pace.)

Situation: Fiance was coming home. I was leaving to pick him up. 
Emotions: excited, happy
Food of choice: Cadbury chocolate for the jolly drive to the train station.

Situation: Watching Say Yes To The Dress before starting some overdue work 
Emotions: I feel lazy (and guilty) when I'm watching TV and not doing anything else at the same time, like folding laundry or eating lunch. I was dreading the start of my overdue work. I felt guilty and anxious for my work being late. 
Food of choice: Second helpings of chicken with rice followed by more Cadbury chocolate

Situation: Time for QT - quality time with fiance. Watching Glee. Whee!
Emotions: relaxed, satisfied
Food of choice: sugar-free popsicle

Okay, so you've got the idea. Emotional eating is not just about eating ice cream when you're depressed about having been dumped. Emotional eating, for me, is when I eat in response to just about any strong emotion I feel - anger, excitement, satisfaction, and guilt. And that's pretty scary.

Some people might look at the food above, then look at me, and then decide that my problem could be worse. (Wheat Thins and 40-calorie sugar-free popsicles? And you're trying to squeeze into a size 6? Oh, boo-hoo. And the problem is???) But my size and my caloric intake are not the issue. The issue is that there are emotions (even positive ones) that I'm feeling, which I can only acknowledge and honor through eating. For my more complex and difficult emotions, I tend to cover them up with food. And avoidance, as easy an option as it is, is rarely the best one.

So as I'm reading Women Food and God, which I've discussed before, I am trying to understand and tame my reliance on food for my emotional needs. I am hungry for a deep spiritual connection that might enlighten me. It is a divine connection that would kick me in the butt and say Stop judging yourself. You're already loved more than you know. It's a connection that says Why are you walking on egg shells? Don't be afraid to speak your truth - your life is not one long popularity contest.

I don't want to stop overeating for the sake of a freakin' bridal diet*. HELL to the NO. I won't even be satisfied if I focus solely on improving my relationship with food. Because this is really about my relationship to myself. It's about my inner knowing and inner voice, God, through whom I already possess the key to being brave, being healed, and being free.

*I say this is not about a bridal diet, but this approach is easier said than done. (I still check out my arms and gut every time I pass a mirror, secretly hoping that my spiritual non-diet leads to a thinner me come July 31st.) Hey, gotta give a girl some credit for trying.

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