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The foodie blues


I love food. I love it too much sometimes. What does it mean to have a “healthy” relationship with food?


As I mentioned before, since I’ve been home, I can feel the stress creeping back in my body. Even though I am not working as much as I used to, I notice the stress of NOT working, the anxiety of what is next, and all the other burdens of being here. I talked about this last time, but what I didn’t talk about is coping mechanisms.


I have some healthy mechanisms that I use frequently. I exercise. I also contemplate the issues and talk about them. I make lists of tasks, and feel a twinge of accomplishment when I complete each one. Overall, I am organized and fairly efficient.


On the other hand, I also have unhealthy coping mechanisms. I tend towards procrastination. I’ve gotten significantly better with this since I was younger, but I think there is part of my brain that really feels if I sit still long enough, the thing that I’m dreading, will go away. (In the therapy world, we call this “magical thinking.”). But, I also use food and alcohol occasionally in not-so-healthy ways. I'm sure there are others, but these are the major ones.


Food is a funny one. I think it is funny because we need it to nourish our bodies. Unfortunately, I don’t (and I know others don’t always) use it strictly for that purpose. I occasionally use it because I’m bored. I use it because I am feeling stressed. Less frequently, I use it because I’m angry.


Food is funny though because when I AM using it for one of the other purposes, I get the “shoulds and shouldn’ts” in my head. (“You should eat something healthier.” “You should eat a smaller portion.” “You shouldn’t eat that entire box of whoppers!”). Once they arrive, it’s all over. Many of you don’t know me, but I HATE people telling me what to do (even when it’s me!). And, the internal arguments ensue. I also become obsessive about these thoughts. Now, if I can leave the area for a while, then I stand a chance. If I’m sitting on the couch watching tv, well the unhealthy voice is much more likely to be successful. A saving grace for me is that I tend to shop in a healthy way – so, I don’t usually have too much around which is unhealthy. But, I do frequently have a box of candy, or a tin of brownies, ice cream etc. I am also not the only person who buys things for the household. My boyfriend is much more likely to buy chips and other snacks.


Right now, most of my stress revolves around “what’s next.” I have ideas, but I’m not certain. What do I do with the uncertainty until I have figured it out? I sit with it. Its uncomfortable.


Being uncomfortable is not fun, but it is important. I have told many clients that being uncomfortable is a good thing – because we are much more likely to change when we feel uncomfortable rather than when we feel good. Discomfort equates to movement, change. I know that stretching can cause pains, whether we are talking about muscles or emotions. But, when I feel those pains, my instinct is to soothe that pain. Sadly, I’ve learned that food can soothe.


Baby steps. What is the answer? Sit with the feelings; meditate. Since food is really an avoidance technique, if I simply sit with the feelings, it helps me get through them. Many people believe that meditating is to make one feel Zen/happy. I don’t think that’s it. I believe that meditation helps your body learn that thoughts and feelings are passing. So, it’s no use getting stuck on a feeling, because if you just feel it, it will soon pass to a different feeling. (This is not an original idea; Sean Achor says something similar in his TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work).


Today, I’m trying to take advantage of it being Juneteenth. If you don’t know what that is, I invite you to look it up. It’s a very important holiday in the US. I’m also trying to take advantage of my current environment. While it may not have many fishes in it; it does have art, history, beauty, diversity and life. I’m going to see what I can find.

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