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Archive for February, 2009

You might remember the guided journey I bought from IOWL a few weeks ago. What has happened since then?

I was listening regularly to the journey, working very hard on the conflicts (there are many), when suddenly one day, I stopped listening. Overnight I changed from listening to the journey twice a day to not doing it at all.

When I asked myself why I stopped, the answer I found was, “Sometimes you need to stop exploring why you do things, and just take action to not do them anymore.” So I did.I started reminding myself that I experience conflicts, and that not overeating is better self-care than overeating.

Even though I went through a lot of stress at work, with the second set of layoffs since January, I handled it ok. A couple of times I even noticed I was eating something, but it didn’t taste like anything. I was sometimes able to talk myself down from stress eating, and think my way out of the pain. Sometimes I ate, and noticed that eating too much hurts. I was even able to choose to not hurt myself by overeating. Sometimes I did overeat, and did self-correction by waiting until I was really hungry to eat again.

Why do I hurt myself with overeating? It’s a habit I learned back in my childhood somehow. Whenever something goes wrong, I punish myself by blaming myself, then eating until it hurts.  There’s both comfort and pain. The pain from eating too much, and the comfort from the food-induced sedation, so I don’t have to think about the thing that went wrong.

Is the journey helping? Maybe. I started to do it today, but got distracted, so I stopped it. It could just be that the changes are just so subtle that I won’t notice it’s helped until I realize that I’m regularly behaving differently.

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Once people with eating disorders start to get their heads on straight, they find out there’s lots of things they don’t know how to do. Rather than make decisions, they (read I) used to eat until the decision was no longer necessary.

Maggie Barnes (Julia Roberts) in Runaway Bride had the same problem.  She’d fall in “love” with anyone who fell in love with her, and life was great until the wedding day. Then she’d run.

People with eating disorders are often pretending that everything’s fine, until a crisis comes up. Then they run to food.

When Maggie realizes she must find a new way to face her crises, she works through it bit by bit. Not only does she discover her career path in hardware (lamp) design, she also looks at other areas in her life. The story shows the example of Maggie finding out how she likes her eggs.

What have I been discovering lately? Sewing. Pride in cleaning up my own space. How to decorate. How to let go of the past. How to stop mindless internet surfing. That I like my fingernails 1-2 millimeters long. And how I like my eggs cooked.

I like my eggs cooked to fit the recipe. Not to fit my man, not to fit a chef’s definition. That means I like hard-boiled eggs in tuna salad, sliced omelet in fried rice, poached in Eggs Benedict, fried over medium to go with creamed spinach and boiled potatoes, and omelet in a breakfast McMuffin-style sandwich.

When I eat eggs with toast, I prefer scrambled, soft but not runny, and made with about a teaspoon of water per egg.

Maggie would be proud.

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Brownies were my binge food for toothache (yes, I get the irony).

Chips and crunchy snacks were the binges for work stress. When the salt had overpowered my mouth so much that it hurt, I would add dip or sweets to make me feel better.

Chocolate was my binge food for sadness.

All of those foods never made me feel better, they only left me feeling worse.

Look at it this way: The toothache or work stress comes. It’s painful, unpleasant, and I feel bad. So I go through my day, or through the dentist visit, and go home. Miserable, sad and in pain.

Then the hunger strikes. A raw, limitless hunger that is driven by anything BUT a physical need for food. Without knowing it, I would grab for the perfect binge food to “solve” the pain.

The binge food works like a drug. I got a small high, then needed more. Eventually my taste buds would be overwhelmed, which induced me to stuff it in faster. That was followed by an overwhelmingly full stomach, which did not always make me stop stuffing, but did make me feel worse.

The binge would end by me collapsing into the actual emotion that I should have expressed earlier, but with all the pain and discomfort added on top. Plus the weight gain.

How was that working for me? Pretty lousy, actually. I always ended up feeling worse.

Stage 1: the actual stress or pain. Painful and unpleasant

Stage 2: rather than deal with that emotion, I start eating. Feels good for about 15 minutes.

Stage 3: My taste buds get numb, and if it’s salty food, my tongue starts to hurt and my blood pressure spikes. That’s a whole new level of feeling bad.

Stage 4: The stuffing continues. My stomach starts to hurt, I’m getting a headache.

Stage 5: I collapse into a food “coma.” My senses are dulled, and I can’t think about anything. The TV prattles on, often I cry, then I doze off.

Stage 6: the hangover starts. My belly is starting to empty, my digestive tract is full, I get cramps as the crap works its way through my body. My vitals start to return to normal.

Stage 7: post-hangover, I feel exhausted, and mad at myself. Funny thing is, the problem is not even addressed.

Binges make me feel worse than not binging. I’m glad they’re gone.

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The guided journey certainly seems to be helping me cope with everyday stresses. Formerly I would eat in response to stress, but often I now can recognize that stress comes from competing wishes, and I need to make my decision about those wishes, not eat to suppress and postpone the inevitable.

For my birthday, everything went right.

First, I gave myself a morning alone at the museum and library (took the day off work, too!). DH took the afternoon off, and we had a lovely gourmet lunch, followed by a movie. When my daughter got back into town that evening, we all met for dinner. A nice, polite, conversational dinner – rare for our teenager.

As to eating, I basically spread one giant birthday meal across the whole day.

For breakfast, I had cake. At lunch, I ate a steak and lobster bisque.  For dinner, it was a great salad. No panicking about food, not even thinking about it very much. Didn’t even want a snack during the long film.

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