Of late I have been focusing just on observing my behavior without judgment. I am getting pretty good at the without-judgment part! I guess it only took forty-three years for it to sink in that seriously, shame never helped anybody accomplish anything.
For the past several days I have indulged in some not-so-healthy or low-calorie meals, and a few times I pushed on eating past the point of still being hungry, but for the most part, I’ve stuck to a regular regimen of planned meals and snacks. In other words, I’ve avoided behavior that I would label a “binge.” It’s important for me to able to identify the behavior I am trying to change. I accept that I will probably never be able to curb all emotional eating — either the soothing or the celebratory eating that comes with good and bad days in life. Instead I would like to focus on reducing or eliminating the times when I literally don’t know why I am compulsively eating despite the fact that I am not physiologically hungry.
As I said I haven’t had what I would consider a binge in awhile, probably a few weeks. Then today there was some leftover breakfasty type things in the lunch room at work. I looked it all over, decided it would be okay to have something small, chose a little cinnamon sugar covered pastry like a doughnut hole (but less cake-like). I ate it and then forgot about it, until the next time I went into the kitchen, which was about an hour later. I was going in there to heat up the leftover fish, green beans and quinoa I brought from home for lunch. At that point I checked to see what was still available from the leftover breakfast, took a quarter of a bagel, slapped on a bit of honey-nut cream cheese, and ate that instead. Then I went back for the other quarter. Then I ate my actual lunch, then I found more bagel and more cream cheese. Then I had a bag of pretzels.
I’d say I was no longer hungry about a third of the way in.
There are some factors to consider about why I might have done this:
- I’m in the midst of migraine. My migraines are not terribly intense, but they last for days at a time. I can manage the pain with simple Excedrin Migraine, but I suffer from secondary symptoms like light sensitivity and brain fog as well. Certainly my willpower is lower during these stretches.
- My job has been extremely busy lately, but I do have stretches where I have nothing to do while I wait for others to get back to me. It’s very difficult for me to switch gears between having too much to handle and too little to occupy my otherwise racing mind. I wonder if I didn’t eat that first pastry (when I wasn’t really hungry) if I hadn’t been bored.
- I have been feeling fairly accepting of myself lately — including the extra pounds I have put on in the last six months. I dressed up in my favorite leopard print skirt today and was pleased with how I felt in it. I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a little bit of self-sabotage going on for me — an old behavior that could be more deeply ingrained than I thought.
Matthew Perry did this great interview once where he talked about his addiction and the idea of willpower. He said that he could only control whether or not he had that first drink. After that he would be off to the races. That’s exactly what I saw in my behavior today. I don’t want to give up pastries or bagels or bread or sugar or anything. Any kind of restriction feels too much like dieting to me. What I want to quit is bingeing. Maybe instead of focusing on what I binge on I could focus on minimizing or at least recognizing factors that likely lead to bingeing (brain fog, boredom, fear of self-acceptance), and on just resisting that first bite — the one I knew I didn’t need, hadn’t planned on, and could have more easily walked away from.
No real answers here, yet, but definitely a confirmation that there’s no place in this scenario where shaming myself would have produced a more positive outcome, and maybe an idea of where to put my energy in preventing the next one from happening. I think I can see how deciding to turn your will and your worries over to a Higher Power (Step Three, dontcha know) is a viable tool to have in your toolbox when things get tough. I’ve been turning over a post about spirituality and the Twelve Steps for awhile now; maybe that’s what should be up next.