This was a huge undertaking, because how do you break up with food when you need it to sustain you? Exactly. It took me some time to wrap my head around this and try to figure it out. Not an easy task either when you have a noted food addiction and eat whenever you are emotional. Emotional eating is a thing. I am not asking anyone to believe it, and it isn’t a ploy professionals use to get people to spend money on plans, or therapists, etc. It’s a thing. It’s an unhealthy coping tool like alcoholism, or drug-use. I know that seems extreme to compare food to substances, but this came straight from a very good friend of mine who is in recovery for alcohol.
I never considered this, because I always thought the abuse of drugs or alcohol was far worse than emotional eating, but emotional eating is a form of food addiction and addictive behavior is addictive behavior, and addiction of any sort is destructive. I am just grateful I got my act together before I had to discover this the hard way. Comfort foods are my addiction. They make me smile, they raise the dopamine levels, which of course makes you crave more, and want to eat more bad things, and I realized this wasn’t just a bad habit, but a bad relationship, because after I felt the smiles, I felt the guilt for having done it, again.
I struggled for almost the entire month of December trying to figure out how to break this habit, but during that fateful coffee time with my dear friend I realized that was I being told was what was going to save my life. I have a repaired congenital heart defect and if I want to reach triple digits, or even imagine it, and stay in a healthy place, I had to learn how to embrace a very important five letter sentence, “One day at a time”. Those words are rearranging and changing my life.
I have a tendency to get ahead of myself, to overthink, to live in the past instead of keeping my feet firmly planted in this moment, in this day. I had tried the “one day at a time” thing before, but for reasons I can’t even tell you, because I don’t know why, I kept falling apart and killing my momentum. I think I had to fix things inside of myself and heal my past before I would be able to truly grasp this concept. I had to be the one to “see” my shortcomings and come to terms with them by facing them head on.
In the past I was not willing to be able to this, because I didn’t want to be a failure, for what felt like the millionth time or to feel that broken, and I wasn’t ready to give up eating the things I loved whenever I wanted to. It’s so hard to explain, or maybe I just did, but everyone is different. We have our own paths. I suppose I can equate it to my dad quitting smoking, or my friend leaving alcohol behind. They couldn’t do it for anyone but themselves, and this is how I was. I just didn’t think that was me, because it was food. I mean how hard could it be to eat better? Hard when deep down inside you really don’t care.
I am ready now. I am ready to put in the work, make the choices and not just the easy ones, but the hard ones. That is what getting better is all about. It’s easier to make bad choices, than easy ones when you don’t care about the consequences, but it’s also hard to break a habit even when you do care about the consequences, because it’s a relationship, albeit toxic, but still a relationship. It’s a pattern of behavior that is so ingrained and familiar, that you feel like you are breaking up with someone when you decide to leave that mindset behind. Which is why I decided I needed to break up with food.
I know some people still don’t understand how to do that, but it’s simple, for me anyway, I am reshaping the way I see food. I am learning to find the distinctions between hunger and desire for food. I try not to get to a point where I order more than I need then figure I had better eat it all since I just bought it. No, I am cutting portions, doing things in moderation and starting to put into place all of the things I have learned through different therapy sessions for emotional eating, as well as books I have read and people I have talked to. I may not be in the type of recovery as those in AA, but it’s still a kind of recovery. I need to remind myself that gorging on food and being addicted to it doesn’t better my life, but instead puts it in danger.
People love comfort food, that’s why it is called that. People I know can eat it, feel that warm fuzzy feeling and then go back to healthy habits, but right now I am not one of those people which is why I had to put my foot down. The hardest part was admitting that I had a problem with food and that I depended on it to make me happy, or cover up my blues, and then I had to admit that after I was done emotionally eating, I felt like shit, and that’s the feeling I didn’t want anymore.
Many people don’t understand emotional eating and think it is an excuse, but I am here to tell you from experience that it is a real thing. It’s something that was discovered to be a real issue under the mental health umbrella. So, if you want to change, change, but do it for yourself and not for anyone else, because if you’re not doing it for you, then it could possibly mean that you’re not ready to change. This can put added pressure on you to be “better” or “perfect” for someone else, and that is truly not fair to you. Change is up to the person that needs it. Just remember that you can do this and to take each moment “one day at a time.”