It is true I have been slacking on posting, but there is a good reason. usually when I start slacking it means that I am in deep thought and concentration about an issue that I am experiencing. This time is no exception. Lately I have been concentrating on my overall eating habits and my relationship with food. I am on track with creating a healthier lifestyle for myself: increasing the amount and frequency of exercise, committing to eating cleaner and healthier, communicating and feeling my feelings, and coming to terms with my relationship with food. Despite all of the work I have done I still experience disordered eating: I am an emotional eater and I participate in binge eating.
First, a definition. According to the Mayo Clinic website, Emotional Eating is described as “a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness.” In the past emotional eating is and has been deceptively comforting for me. If I felt frustrated, angry, powerless, ugly, fat, worthless, or disgusting I would eat.
The one emotion that always got me going was knowing there so something I want to say but feeling like I am unable to communicate what I need to communicate. This emotion still causes me to literally shove down those feelings with food. Unfortunately emotional eating if often triggered when I know I need to discuss something with my husband. I am currently working on being a better wife by communicating my emotions and frustrations, with Chris because it turns out I have been not so great in this area of our lives together. The more I think about it the more ashamed I become and that shame contributed more and more to the emotional eating.
I have turned emotional eating around, for the most part. One of the things that has helped me in my journey to get free of emotional eating is a book, Breaking Free From Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth. This book gave me permission to evaluate my issues with emotional eating and really got to the heart of the issue. Emotional eating isn’t just overeating it is about getting to the bottom of why I participate in this behavior. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in finding out about how our behaviors, emotions, and fears impact our relationship with food. We need to straighten out our feelings regarding food before we can move forward and find joy in food again. Just this morning I ordered another book, The Joy Diet by Martha Beck. I have heard great things about this book and I love Martha Beck she just has so many amazing insights into our true selves.
Disclaimer: This is really difficult for me to talk about, mostly because I have acknowledged the binging issues to very few people.
A definition. Accordingly to the Mayo Clinic website Binge Eating Disorder is defined as: “a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food. Almost everyone overeats on occasion, such as having seconds or thirds of a holiday meal. But for some people, overeating crosses the line to binge-eating disorder and it becomes a regular occurrence, usually done in secret. When you have binge-eating disorder, you may be deeply embarrassed about gorging and vow to stop. But you feel such a compulsion that you can’t resist the urges and continue binge eating.”
In order for you to really understand how binging manifests in my life, let me give you a window into the binging behavior that I so desperately need to change.
What is happening when I feel the compulsion to binge?
- I am usually tired, bordering on falling asleep, and I am usually on the couch
- I am trying to justify going to bed to my husband. If this has happened he has mentioned something about my falling asleep…usually he is upset that I am not staying awake to hang out with him
- So I feel compelled to try and stay awake. This is when I head to the kitchen to: grab seconds of dinner, a bag of chips, nuts, or cereal. This is where it starts. and it just keeps coming. I hardly realize what I am doing and before I know it, I am impossibly full, deeply ashamed, and more tired than when I started this whole spiral.
It amazes me that is this behavior is so very specific. My binging manifests itself in such a crazy pattern, it took a long time to see into what actually happens when I binge, how I am feeling when I binge, and to get my courage up enough to disclose this behavior.
One thing I have come to understand more and more is I care so very deeply about how Chris sees me and feels about me that I have chosen to ignore my own feelings and needs in order to defer to his. I want to be very clear, this is not something he asked me to do, it was something I assumed I needed to do to make up for my short comings and the fact that we had to move for my job. I so desperately wanted him to be happy that I did almost everything to make sure he was happy where we were. I forgot to consider myself when making decisions and I totally disappeared into this need to make him happy at any cost. This is how I gained all the weight and this is how I stopped investing in myself and this is how I began to disappear.
Now we have come to feeling bad about being tired. What is this all about? Well, the way my journey to better myself, get healthier, and to start investing in myself again started was with a very emotional conversation with my husband one Saturday. I wanted to take a nap instead of helping him clean out our storage unit. After I told him that I was tired, he said the four words that strike hurt in my heart to this day “you are ALWAYS tired”. This started an argument followed by a huge realization that I desperately had to make some changes. But now, even though I have made fantastic changes in my life apparently I am still unable to admit to Chris that I am tired. I am reluctant to say those words because I assume that he believes that being tired is only for someone who is out of shape, fat, and disgusting. As if in shape, happy, and fulfilled people NEVER get tired and are always energetic, fun, and never need naps or significant amounts of sleep. This is like thinking that if you ate the best most delicious meal of your life that you will never be hungry again. I get tired just like everyone else. People who are fulfilled, in good shape, and eat cleanly and responsibly get tired too because we all need to relax and recharge, it is part of being human.
This is what I need to say to Chris. These are some reasons why I am tired when I am tired. Please note none of these reasons have anything to do with being out of shape, disgusting, or unhappy:
- I get up early, usually around 5am, to work out at least 2 or 3 days a week.
- On days I don’t work out I get up early (at around 6am) to get ready for work because I hate to be rushed.
- As evidenced by the former points I am a morning person and I don’t really like staying up late.
- I work a full day.
- When I am at work, I work hard.
- When I come home I like to relax and yes true confessions I put on pajamas within 10 minutes of arriving home from work.
- I love naps, for me they are like meditation. Being able to nap means that I am able to give myself permission to relax, this is HUGE for me.
- When I take a nap I get to spend time with me, I get to invest in my future mood. I get to regroup.
Being tired is NOT bad because I am NOT always tired. For me sleep is a way to recharge and EVERYONE needs to recharge and re-energize.
A very important disclaimer: No matter how it may sound I do not blame my husband for any of my disordered eating behaviors. His wanting me to stay up with him or his expressing feelings about my falling asleep early are not bad but what I do with those feelings is. I make the assumptions about how he feels about me being tired. For all I know he doesn’t feel that way about me ALWAYS being tired anymore. But that is the underlying issue, I haven’t really checked in with him about that and about how I have improved my life – but I still need sleep. He is not the reason I binge, he is the second most important reason for me to make these changes in my life…the first important reason is me. I just need to commit to talking with him about it. I need to commit to having emotionally mature conversations with him, especially around my feelings, the assumptions I make, and about my relationship with food.
As of today I can no longer ignore the emotional eating and the binging. I have chosen this venue to communicate these struggles with the world. Whether or not anyone is reading or there to hear my “voice” it is out there in the world, now I cannot continue to ignore them. Speaking them out loud, using my voice, and writing about these issues enables me to truly confront them head on. Now that I know I want to share with you all about my struggles.
Now I can recommit to NOT participating in disordered eating. Now I can love myself enough to avoid emotional eating, so I can develop a lasting healthy relationship with food. Now that I have put the information out there I can do something to change my life. Here I go…thanks everyone for your patience with me and for supporting me no matter what I am struggling with.
A shout-out to Chris: I am sorry to make so much of this about a story about what we are and have been going through. I am also sorry that I have been reluctant to share these things with you. I will be better about this. This post is about me and how I react to situations. It is about me and the assumptions I make about how you see me and feel about me. I am so lucky to have you and often feel as though I do not deserve you. But one thing I know is I love you so deeply so genuinely. Thank you for hanging in there with me, you are the best support in my life. Thanks for your patience with me and with my journey. I love you.