I've been having a conversation with an anonymous commenter on one of my previous posts, but my response got too long! So, I decided to post it here. And, please, those with eating issues, feel free to pipe in with what has helped you. We are all in this together!
Anonymous said: Its really difficult having alcoholism in my family and constantly fighting the urge to drink .. and then getting anxious about that and wanting to eat .. and then .. oh man, somedays it feels like there is too much on my plate to stand. How do you do it? I pray, I go to church when I can (the options here are slim) .. and Ive started to work out again ... but I still feel so anxious all the time. pointers?
I think the alcohol urges got hung up during pregnancy, when I couldnt drink at all. I've always drank when I wanted and never had a problem, but I also knew that I was a step away, especially when I'd think "I had a rough day; I think I'll have a drink." For me, food is the addiction of choice. And that is a struggle. Even as it is getting better.
I think one of the things that helped me a lot was identifying my issues.
I am an emotional eater.
I have bad portion control.
I like- make that love- to cook/bake.
Eating makes me feel better.
I'm a soda-aholic.
I had to not only I.D. them, but then accept them and say, yes, these are true. BUT THEY ARE NOT "ME". And then, I had to come up with ways to deal with them.
For eating with emotion, I decided that, even though I really hated the idea of appearing weak and asking for help (even though the rational part of me knows that asking for help is NOT weak at all!!) that I would. I would come clean with Peter and tell him just how hard of a struggle eating was and that I wanted to make a change and, although I didnt want his advice unless I specifically asked for it, I would need his verbal support. Sometimes he wouldnt understand why I was struggling and that was okay- he just needed to listen. And I told my best friend that I might randomly call her if I felt the urge to eat. While I havent leaned on their shoulders a lot, knowing I have them makes it better. I also talk to myself. My big question: Are you hungry??? If the answer is no, then the response to myself is "then get the hell out of the kitchen."
Portion control. I still struggle with that, but I am doing better. I joke (now) that I used to eat enough for a wide receiver. Although, it's probably more realistic to say that I ate enough to fuel one of those guys who blocks the Quarterback (yeah, those BIG guys). I knew this would get me, so I decided I would by soda in 12 packs (12oz portions), 100 calorie packs of whatever I could find (so there would never be a variety issue), and Healthy Choice meals that were already portioned out and ranged from 250-350 calories a piece for my lunch. As time went on, I also started switching out my regular things for lower calorie versions. But the kickers were ingredients. I didnt want "diet" food. I wanted the food I wanted- just in better portions. The best things so far were Arnold's breads. They make bread with the same ingredients for less calories, simply by making the bread the "average" size (and not the mega slices we are accustomed to). Same thing with bagels. I love bagels. But at 300+ calories a pop... EEK! So, I tried their 110c bagels. Look like a bagel- just smushed. And they are great. Same thing with their burger buns. And the Thomas English Muffins have a Healthy Start, 100 calorie version. Perfect. Once I started doing that, I really started paying attention to serving sizes on labels. As I cook, I give myself one spoonful of something. If I'm hungry, I can get more. But I usually dont... It's amazing how full you can get when you arent so busy shoveling in food. But I know that I need, at this point, to buy things in portioned sizes. At one time, I hope to not worry about opening a bag of chips and eating them all. But for now, this is what I need and it helps a lot.
I love to cook and bake. And I still do. And that isn't changing. I still fry pork chops or eat pasta or bake sweets. And I eat them too. But in portion. I'm aware of what I'm cooking and I take the time to plot out the calories. And, if that means half a fried porkchop becomes my serving, then so be it. But I wont deprive myself. If I do, then this becomes a diet and not a lifestyle. And I will fail because I wont diet and make it. I made a choice to change my life, not my pant size. That's just a good benefit. Instead of big cakes, I love cupcakes- portion control right there! And cookies- 1 cookie.... That's it. And I'm good with that. Brownies, that's a different story, but I cut a piece and walk away. And I tell myself: that is X calories. Make them count. And they do. And I, surprisingly, dont struggle with that so much anymore.
Eating makes me feel better. This is a mental thing that will take years, I'm sure. Right now, I make myself equate food with energy and fuel. Yes, it can taste good. Yes, I can spend hours crafting it. But, primarily, it needs to fuel me with energy. If I am sad, then better to let it out than to eat a cookie. If I am angry, better to go for a run around the block than to the pantry. If someone hurts my feelings, yes, I'm going to the dessert table. That's still in me. But I know now that I can take a deep breath and internally discuss. Is the cookie really going to make me feel better or will I just feel worse after? Probably the latter... Walk away. Just today, we had playgroup (great!!!) and then I dropped the kids at my in-laws so I could go to my old gym, hit the grocery store from my old town, then go home and start cleaning. I get in the car and realize I dont have my sports bra so I cant run. I'm pissed, but okay... So I'll run after the store. I get to the store and realize I dont have my wallet. Now, I'm really upset. I'm already pressed for time today and now this. IMMEDIATELY, I wanted to go to the closest drive through for a milkshake. I knew, though, that I needed to talk to someone. Peter wasnt available, so I called my mom and told her that I'm signing up for a Nashville 1/2 marathon in the fall and asked if I could stay with her for the overnight I'll be there. By the time we hung up, I was almost home and then Peter called me back and we chatted. He listened. He didnt try to fix the situation. When I told him I just felt so overwhelmed with what I had to do and that this just really screwed me with more time, he suggested that my bra was left behind so I could go home and enjoy an outside run (which I love) over a treadmill run (which I hate). I agreed. And, in 35 minutes, I recharged outside and am now waiting on my lunch to finish in the oven (we dont have a microwave, which I think also helps A LOT in the food category since I really cook every thing now and there is no "just pop that in" instant gratification food anymore). But, I'm still in that place where my brain thinks food can help my anxiety or stress or sadness or whatever. It's a work in progress, one I imagine will be lifelong.
I'm a soda-aholic. At some point, I plan to cut this out of my life forever, but now is not the time. Regular can of coke: 140 calories. Coke Zero: 0 calories. Imagine, if you drink 3 cans of coke a day, you have just added a meal to your day. I was drinking my calories. With soda, sweet tea, and juice, I was easily consuming, I'm guessing upwards of 800 calories a day. Just in liquid. Now, I Coke Zero or I dont soda, I drink Trop50 (50 calories/8oz) juice, and plain coffee and tea. Speaking of coffee... I love Starbucks and Sarah and I would go there for a girls night. 500 calories. No kidding. In a cup of coffee. Now, at most, I drink 150c, and that's if I get the largest size of the Skinny Vanilla Latte.
For me, it became a choice. I could listen to the little evil monkey on my shoulder and eat, eat, eat, and drink... OR I could count myself worth more than a chocolate milkshake, more than a candy bar, more than a 500 calorie mocha. That isn't to say I dont have a milkshake from time to time (Elevation Burger makes the best!!!) or candy (those little miniature pieces rock my world) and I still partake at Cafe Starbucks, but I define my choices before I go and I know what I'm getting into. No more mindless eating.
It is a struggle; I dont want to imply it isnt. But on the scale today, it read a whopping 35 pounds lighter than I was October 1st. That's worth the struggle. Every bite of it.