Monday, May 19, 2014

Fear of Breaking Free

I wanted to talk about the book I am reading a little more yesterday, but my post was already so long.  Since I am thinking of giving this a genuine try, I will talk a little more about it now.
The book, again, is called "Breaking Free from Emotional Eating" by Geneen Roth.  I really connected with her book "When Food is Love" so I thought I would give her method a try.  The concept behind it is that it is not cravings and hormones making us put things in our bodies that will, given enough time, be our own drawn-out suicide, but it is the emotional tornado going on inside that is driving us to seek comfort.  Part of that pressure is the weight we (and others) add on by judging what, when, and how we eat.  How many of you hide the wrappers of something you ate because you don't want to be judged for eating something "non-diet" or non-healthy?  Both hands up for me.  I eat on the sly all the time.  Why do we do it?  Because it comforts us and makes us feel like, when no one else is watching, we have control over what we eat.  When we attach shame to food it makes us feel like we are bad for seeking comfort, even if the food could never touch that place inside that needs the comfort.  I eat in my car a lot.  It is a place no one can see me and judge me.  And it isn't because I am so busy that I can't find time to eat elsewhere.   I am so certain I will be judged negatively by what I eat, that I choose to avoid that mess altogether and hide it.
Most of the time when I eat food with no nutritional value, I feel the chemical process of the changes as a warming, soothing feeling, but I don't particularly taste the food after the first couple bites, and sometimes the food doesn't even taste all that good to me.  But this is all part of the learning process.
As I said, I am only on chapter 3 of this book, but I get the basic premise from her other book I read.  Breaking free involves removing all of the emotional charge from certain foods, eating exactly what you are wanting, but doing so in an aware manner, and ONLY when you are truly hungry.  If you are not truly hungry but feel like eating, there are questions to ask as to what it is you are really seeking.  And if you eat when you are not hungry, noticing how the tastes and textures are different for that food when eating when it when you truly are hungry.  An important key to this process is to stop hiding what you are eating, it takes the 'wrong' out of it.  The reason this method works is similar to the way drinking alcohol suddenly becomes less exciting to someone after they turn 21.  If all food is legalized, you won't feel the panic to get it, to hide it, to abuse it.  Just knowing that you can eat that candy bar whenever you want to lifts a little pressure off you.  While I understand this, and can see how that would be liberating, I am going to have a tough time easing into this.
I met my husband 13 years ago, when he was in a reggae band, and I was just moving out on my own.  He was about 130 pounds and muscular, I was 225 pounds and fell for him immediately.  He always had girls flirting with him, and I didn't think I had a chance.  But he saw something in me that others did not.  And I have been so proud to proclaim that he has never, in 13 years, made a rude comment about my weight.  He knows it is a subject I am very sensitive about.  After years of watching him go up and down the scales for bodybuilding and fitness modeling, he is disciplined to a fault (especially where eating is concerned) and the one thing that he does do is comment on what I'm eating.  Not in an intentionally hurtful way, but he does.  Yesterday was a prime example.  I was genuinely hungry, so I made myself a wrap filled with a huge fistful of spinach, tomatoes, green onions and some Tofurky slices.  It was a huge wrap, I was trying to use up some of the spinach we have, he bought too much last weekend because he was planning on juice-fasting all weekend but that didn't happen.  His comment was, "Wow, you really went all-out with whatever that is!"  I simply answered, "There's a LOT of spinach in there, I'm trying to use some up before it spoils."  It doesn't matter that what I was eating was healthy or that I was genuinely hungry, it really bothered me that he had to comment at all.  It made me feel wrong for eating such a huge serving.  But then I realized that, he has his own issues with food.  Yes he is uber healthy and fit and has rock hard abs, but his over-disciplined manner says to me that he has something going on inside.  I can't fix him, but I can let him know that his comments about my food intake only make me want to binge on junk all the more, to comfort from the perceived-negative judgments.  I know he does it without even thinking, because it isn't how he would/does eat, and I think he'll have the wherewithal to stop it once I mention it to him.
My kids are my other concern.  If they see me eating all kinds of junk, they will want it, and won't understand why it's OK for Mom to eat it when they can't.  That will be a tough one.  Eventually, when following this program, your mind starts to take a back seat with food, and your body begins telling you what it needs.  The author said she gained 15 pounds in 3 months, then it stabilized for a few months, then she quickly lost 30 pounds, just by eating what and when she wanted.  Eventually your body starts to crave the essentials.  I often crave greens, but get lazy or let it go too long between meals, or feel like salads won't keep me full long enough.
So it seems I have some work to do on "legalizing foods" and coming out of the food closet.  I am 5'0 and I weigh 188 pounds, I am not fooling anyone that I am eating healthy, plant-based vegan foods 100% of the time.  My husband is not an idiot.  But he isn't aware enough to know that his actions drive my compulsion sometimes.
If I follow through with this whole plan, it will be an interesting summer to say the least!

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