Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Previous Attempts to Deal with Food Issues

Q: Since you've become an adult, how have has your relationship to food evolved? 

As a teenager I was well known to be a chocoholic. I used to be able to eat a block of chocolate every day. I could also eat more ice cream than anyone in my class. 
I became a vegetarian when I was 21 and I was a vegan for several years in my twenties. 
In the past few years I've given up a few food like substances, including coke and chewing gum. A few years ago I also gave up coffee because I could see I was addicted to it, even though it was upsetting my stomach after meals and giving me heart palpitations. I gave myself leave to start again on my 45th birthday. I love coffee.

Q: What makes you think you have a problem with food? 

After I had my baby I couldn't lose some of the extra weight I'd gained during the pregnancy. I realised that usually when I started to put on weight, I would just do a few more hours in the gym, and it wasn't really a problem. I correlated low fat as no food problem. As I couldn't shift the weight and I couldn't exercise, I had to look at my food intake. And I realised I was eating a lot more than I thought I was.

I don't know how it happens, but I seem to go blank when I eat sometimes. It really is mindless. In some situations more than others.  

Q: Could you describe your current relationship with food as you see it?

I generally eat rapidly. I eat big mouthfuls and swallow lumps. Most of my meals on my own are finished before 5 minutes. In Spain you can sit around the table for 2 or 3 hours easily and its agony for me. 

I have been practising breathing before meals, and smelling food, and trying to physically relax before consuming food. I have tried to have smaller bites and chew with more awareness. Its difficult and I feel pain when I slow down and bring consciousness to my eating. This is a stressful time for me.

As soon as I have eaten, and I'm full, I usually have a cup of tea. And I'm even fuller afterwards. To the point of bloat. And I stay bloated most of the day. I don't seem to be able to let my stomach empty.  

Out of Control
This is difficult to say, because I obviously pride myself on my control and awareness in many aspects of my life, but yes, I feel that I find myself overeating regularly. I eat past 'full', and I don't seem to be able to stop. I see it clearly. Just writing about this has my heart beating fast. 

I don't usually diet because I don't want to restrict my food intake. I have always exercised more instead of cutting back on food. However every year I do a 40 day detox where I follow the Fit for Life program. It has helped me in the past establish healthy eating patterns. I am a disciplined person in some matters, and it can create chaos when this disciplined health conscious side of me sees the unconscious binge eater. I'm working on keeping the name calling down to a minimum. 

I started eating more sweets when I was tired and my baby was young. I felt frequently sad and ate pastries to help compensate for my unhappiness. And then I ate more and more. It became a problem for me because I know its not healthy and it doesn't contribute to my long term happiness. 

I hardly ever wait until I'm hungry to eat. I eat when there is a space in my stomach.

Self Esteem 
I don't attach my self esteem to my food habits, but it is attached to my body image. I see clearly that the larger I become the more unhappy I am with how I look and the more I feel like its worthless to try to change. Its a vicious cycle. Every now and then I make an effort to change, and I feel trapped in the previous cycle of behaviour. It takes a lot of will power to make changes. Changes that will last. 

Public Confession 
And here I am, shining light on what I see about food in my life. I want it to be out in the open. I want it to be clear. I don't want to pretend. I want to be able to see myself clearly and drag all of that shadow side out into the light. Its helpful to publish this on the Internet. It makes me feel like there is no going back. That this ray of awareness is not just my ray of awareness, but yours too. Your observation adds to my observation so that the ray of light is stronger and I can see and decide clearly what to do for my future. 

At the moment I just want to bring awareness to my relationship with food. I just want to see it clearly. To experience everything with my eyes open. I feel like I am getting to know part of myself I never knew existed. Acceptance. Acceptance. Acceptance. Acceptance before anything else. Observation and acceptance. 

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