I apologize for not having updated you on my emotional eating struggle yet, but each day and each week are so different that I feel I may speak too soon.
There are a variety of things I’m doing to help myself, including finding a counselor here in St. Louis. Ultimately, I think that intuitive eating is the direction I need to take. I catch myself thinking “I’ll just use my will power to eat healthy foods” or “I’ll make a commitment to stop eating sweets” or “I better indulge now because tomorrow I’m going to get healthy again” and then I realize that is the opposite of the relationship I want with food. That is deprivation, rules, and guilt.
There are a variety of past and current situations and emotions that result in my off-and-on struggle with trusting my body and eating normally. It was really hard for me to, after being stable for a few years, admit that I was having eating issues again. But I need to accept what’s going on and tackle the problem instead of hoping it will go away. Saying that I’m going to eat a certain way or follow certain rules is not a long-term solution.
Intuitive Eating is.
March Intuitive Eating Challenge
I wrote about Jamie’s Intuitive Eating Challenge last month, and I’m happy to say I’m participating again in March. Last month I just read the emails each morning and appreciated their comforting words, but didn’t embrace the challenge entirely. When it told me to go eat whatever I wanted without guilt, I still let the “but you need to eat more vegetables” get in the way of what I truly craved, ignoring my body’s cues and leading to tons of snacking later on.
This time I want to dive in 100%. It is strange to ignore some of the nutrition knowledge I’ve amassed over the years, to eat foods that I crave even if they aren’t what I think I “should” be eating, and to know that it may take a little bit of trial and error. However, I want to trust myself. I know that any struggle I have at the beginning is worth it to finally learn myself and my hunger once and for all. That a few weeks or months of experimenting can eventually lead me to a lifetime of food freedom.
My goal is that food will be a fun, delicious, nutritious, and social part of my day, but not a source of anxiety and not the only thing on my mind.
I had my 15 minute intro call with Jamie last Thursday, and it was so enlightening. I hadn’t talked to someone that understands my mindset and situation in so long!
I bombarded her with an overview of every single idea going around in my head, but she listened patiently and had thoughtful ideas. Here just a few of the things we discussed in regards to this new eating struggle:
- If this emotional eating is just my previous eating disorder manifesting itself in a new way due to some new stressors and life situations. That the history of depression and addiction in my family may lend itself to a lifetime of that.
- My wanting to remove myself from the anorexic label so much that I go in the other direction – I eat to prove to others and myself that I am no longer sick…
- The stress/uncertainty of my career change causing eating issues to resurface, perhaps as a result of feeling lost, unworthy, confused…
- Feeling “different” that most other 25 year olds that still love to go to bars, drink a lot, etc. I feel a lot of pressure to do those things, even though they don’t make me feel good. It leads me to feel really anti-social and lonely.
My brain is a mess right now, right? Maybe some of you can relate to a few of those feelings…I think that seeing a counselor will certainly be helpful!
The challenge started March 1st and to say I’m enjoying it is an understatement. The Facebook group is wonderful. Everyone is so open in sharing their experiences, from feeling really crappy after eating cookies and pizza all day to realizing that they really didn’t like the taste of some of their “safe” foods. Some are making major break throughs and trying things they used to never let themselves eat, and others are really struggling with learning their hunger and cravings. I’m so so thrilled to have a place I can be open and feel supported.
A few of my specific learnings:
- A combination of Crossfit, Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer, and other Fitness blogs have led me to believe that one of my favorite breakfasts – toast with almond butter and banana – is too many carbs and not enough protein. I stopped letting myself have it, even though I often crave it and it satisfies me
- Having a few girl scout cookies after dinner is much better than trying to have just a “handful” of jellybeans or chocolate chips, which always leads to me going back for more and more.
So again, to ANYONE struggling with their eating – whether it is that you are too rigid with your food choices or you feel like you lose control around sweets – Jamie’s challenge could be perfect for you.
I’m also reading a few books:
- 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food – pretty basic, but great ideas of things to do when you notice you want to reach for the pantry
- Breaking Free from Emotional Eating – Geneen Roth is brilliant. I read another book of hers, Women Food and God, after learning from her at Integrative Nutrition. I’m only a few chapters into this book, and I already feel like she knows me. She covers about my every emotion. Highly recommended.
(amazon affiliate links to those books above.)
This month I’m going to do my best to remove any guilt about who I am or what I’m going through and really focus on taking care of myself. Jamie’s encouragement was for me to just start OWNING me. Funny that one of my 2012 goals was to own who I am, and I somehow have lost that. I have some struggles that I wish I didn’t, but it’s ME and I need to be my own friend.