When I eat good, I feel good. When I eat poor, I feel poor. Why do I put myself in situations like that just for a small window of instant gratification?
Every time I think about my relationship to food, I think of that one Weight Watchers commercial a few years back. Hilarious, yet so on point. A realization that . . . A. I am not alone. B. I need to learn a new coping mechanism for my emotions. & C. Where have I seen this before?
A pattern I merely discovered a few seconds ago, years of coping through my chronic pain and how I overcame this:
Pain + Feeling hopeless / depression = Suicidal Thoughts
Suicide has always been my escape route to pain. It has always been my default reaction when the pain becomes unbearable. I didn’t learn how to cope with it when it arose after my first surgery in 2006. I didn’t find help until I’ve had enough of thinking the way I did until 2014. That’s eight years of trying to cope by myself. That’s eight years of masking my pain to the world. That’s eight years of chronic pain + the accumulating 8-years of internal pain/struggles. Therapy helped me. I got back into writing and created this blog. I wrote about my issues, mostly for me and maybe with a little hope that someone living with pain comes across my blog and helps them too. Writing – became my outlet. Attending therapy and learning techniques about mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation all became my outlet. When a thought does pop up, I take a step back to pause and clear my mind, massage the area where the most amount of pain is at that time, breathe into my pain, and ask myself why I thought of death. I survived my suicidal tendencies through support of the people I love and the people who love me. I survived my suicidal tendencies through growth, courage, and strength. I survived my suicidal tendencies through faith and gratitude. I survived because I yearn for more in the life given to me.
How I deal with pain will always be an ongoing process. There are still some coping methods I wish to learn to rid myself from, but throughout the past three years, my greatest victory is learning to omit suicidal thoughts out of the equation and really think about the situation I am under. But with this pain so great led to the second ranked destructive thing and a new problem to face, which brings us back to My Relationship to Food.
To be honest, this is where it gets confusing because there are so many variables linked to food that even I am struggling to find the words to break apart this puzzle of a problem. So, using my organizational skills, I’ve complied a list and as much as I hate to admit it, my emotions are tied to food and most of which seems to be a lack of control:
Social Events & Surrounded by Other People:
Sometimes I feel like an outcast. Sometimes I feel I’m being judged. Sometimes I feel super socially awkward. Sometimes I feel lonely in a large group of familiar faces. Sometimes I’m out of my element and uncomfortable with those around me. Sometimes I’m the new girl and I know no one. People tend to drink in social situations, I resort to food (that is if there is any).
Sometimes my family looks at me and rolls their eyes, and to “fit in” I eat more. (I mean, it’s difficult to go to a Filipino party and just eat one thing . . . . um, family pressure to eat)
Sometimes when my mom dangles my favorite snack in front of me, I grab it and she smiles.
Sometimes I mistake someone else’s eating pattern for my own. (ie. when they are eating, maybe I’m hungry; or the foods that they eat, maybe I’ll eat the same, fully aware that our bodies digest certain foods differently)
Emotions & Cravings:
Sometimes there’s tension in a room such as anger or anxiety, and I begin to stress eat.
Sometimes a small indulgence leads to several large indulgences throughout the week.
Sometimes I get these random cravings, and I give in.
Sometimes when it’s a specific craving, I’ll eat the substitutes feeling unsatisfied until I eat the one I’m actually craving.
Sometimes I mistake boredom for hunger and sometimes boredom leads to mindless munching, especially while watching TV.
Sometimes when I’m starving, I tend to devour my meal without thinking, making me grab seconds.
Sometimes I think of the food I shouldn’t be eating, and I end up mindless grabbing it and shoving it into my mouth and can’t seem to stop (happens at my mom’s house, because I don’t stock up on junk food at my own house)
Sometimes I indulge more when someone joins me and sometimes I indulge more when no one is there to judge me but my own self and then I know I have a problem if I’m hiding my indulgences.
It’s even worse when pain is involved:
Living in chronic pain is hard enough, but when my pain is at its’ highest, the act of chewing and the crunch sound gives me a distraction. It numbs my pain, which leads to mindless munching.
When I’m in pain, I look for a distraction. I look for anything that allows me not to feel anything at all. Food & Binge Watching TV.
PAIN + EMOTIONAL STRESS = FOOD COPING MECHANISM
Food is an unwanted coping mechanism, just how thoughts of suicide was a dangerous one. Both self-destructive in their own ways. Food is a little more challenging and complex though.
It’s definitely going to take some time to navigate through my emotional attachment to food. But for now, things I should do in the meantime and hope to create a habit:
- Put away all technology and music.
- Portion exactly how much you plan to eat. (no going up for seconds)
- Smell & Look at your food, and say a little prayer
- What’s the rush? Slow down. Chew thoroughly, and put your fork down between bites.
- Pay attention to in the moment and enjoy each texture and flavor of your meal.
This is a way to mindfully be in the present and to enjoy the moment. This will certainly become a part of my journey to self-discovery as I maneuver around obstacles where food will no longer be an emotional or pain outlet for me.
Follow my progress, as I continue to navigate my way through uncharted waters . . .rebeccanne