Breaking Old Patterns, One at a Time

Today I was craving a Diet Coke.  The idea of a Diet Coke, at least.  It was a habit (for years) to drink as many Diet Cokes as I wanted on Fridays because I didn't have to go to bed at a certain time or get up early the next day.  Today I took the money out to go get a soda, which is two floors up from where I work, and got busy doing work until I looked up a few hours later and noticed I hadn't thought about the soda since I put the money on the counter. 
I have noticed pattern here, with several things making my mood good today, and wanting to enhance it by having something special.  It's as if I am at a party and enjoying myself but it's not the "time of my life" so I feel I need to add something extra to the party.  I remember when I was about 7 or 8 my parents would go bowling on Saturday nights and my older sister and I would have a babysitter.  Maybe out of parental guilt or as a courtesy to the sitter, my parents would buy chips and soda for us to devour while they were out.  The sitter was a neighbor girl, the sister of a tough guy that we hung out and played games with, and we used to play pranks on her because she was pretty reactive and dramatic.  I remember those times of being home with my sister and the sitter, watching our favorite shows and eating goodies that weren't very plentiful in our house otherwise, and I genuinely had fun those days.  The food enhanced the fun we were already having.  This pattern has been repeated over and over.  Who doesn't go out to eat to celebrate a birthday or cook a special meal when someone important is coming over? Maybe it's a cultural thing, but it's learned, and it's a hard habit to break, especially for someone prone to compulsive eating. 
My idea of compulsive eating is, simply, eating when my body isn't asking for food; I'm not hungry but I'm putting calories in my mouth anyway.  In the past, my compulsive eating had a lot of urgency around it, and it drove me to binges, shoving things in without tasting them, looking for the chemical or emotional soothing and not caring about the consequences.  For a long time, I really didn't want to stop eating like that, I took it for freedom, and I thought that it was necessary because I wasn't ready to find out why it was happening and how to fix it.  I thought that "fixing" it would mean somehow mastering self-discipline and deprivation.  Now that I am actually examining the links between my behavior and the actions or previously unexamined emotions that lie beneath, stopping the madness is so much easier than I expected. 
Eating is pleasureable, and it releases feel-good chemicals in our bodies, that's why it was so hard to give up that unplanned, auto-pilot eating that I was doing all day long.  But when I think about what I'm doing and why, I am sort debunking my own "desires" one by one.  I can now pass on things (or get over a fixation on a thing) by imagining the negative things about how it tastes or makes me feel, or by distracting myself with a project, or, like this morning, reminding myself that I can have whatever I choose, and sometimes that alone takes the rebellion trigger away and I no longer want it.  And sometimes I can realize the weakness of my "want" by thinking of how it will effect the rest of my body, my brain and heart, or my liver and kidneys.  I am building a toolkit that I can use to destroy my old habits and unconscious eating. This is the key I was missing all those times I went on countless diets thinking I could will myself to eat less by focusing on how badly I wanted to be thin.  After all I've been through with this body, I really don't have some ideal of being "thin" anymore, I just want to feel good.  I want my mind to be healed from all the hurts I have been hanging onto over the years.  I want to have confidence and grace and be strong in my conviction.  These were the things that I thought being thin would bring me.  These are the things I am allowing myself now by getting rid of those antiquated ideas and emotional attachment to things that are no longer serving me.  


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