Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Detour from the Road to Bingeville

It's a rainy afternoon here. Mabel spent the night at a friend's house and is still there until I pick her up in an hour. Hubby's outside with his dad working on our new porch. My mom was here for a few minutes to visit and has just left. I have the house to myself and can do anything I want.

So why do I want to eat?

I'm not hungry -- for lunch I had half a sandwich that was left over from last night's supper, then half a brownie (probably a 2"x2" square) and just a few minutes ago I had a candy bar. The candy bar was bordering on excessive, but I was still hungry, so I let myself have it.

So now I'm pleasantly full, yet in my mind the urge to sneak off and stuff myself is lurking there like a shady character under a lamp post. Ominous but not quite an immediate threat.

And here I am, the Watcher, looking down from my window at this scene, and I can't help but wonder why. This is a reoccurring theme for me -- I get some time by myself, and the urge to binge arises. It's not that I'm lonely -- good Lord I've been so inundated with people lately that I'm been eager for an afternoon like this. I'm not stressed out or angry today -- work was calm and quiet with my Pastor still on vacation. It is that time of the month, but I feel fine.

Someone, and I can't remember who now, figured this situation out on their own blog, and I knew she had gotten me pegged, too. This comes down to the old food for comfort syndrome. I get some time to myself, I want to "treat" myself, and the first response is food.

This isn't anything out of the ordinary. We comfort and treat ourselves with food all the time. As a kid, after a victorious baseball or soccer game the team goes out for ice cream. As an adult, you get a promotion and celebrate with a fancy dinner. As a kid, you scrape your knee and your mom gives you a cookie. As an adult, we have a rough day at work and treat ourselves by stopping at the grocery store on the way home and picking up our favorite comfort food. When someone dies, the family gets trays of food from friends and neighbors.

But when that comforting gets excessive, when it becomes a compulsion instead of a treat, it's time to learn different ways of taking care of ourselves. My first thought was to come here and write about it, to make myself blatantly conscious of what was going on and to separate myself from the old thoughts and behaviors that lead me down the road to Bingeville.

Now the trick is to find something else to do that will be satisfying enough to not make me feel deprived because I'm not giving in to these thoughts.

But you know what? Just writing about it here, lifting myself out of that mind set before the momentum kicked in, has made the urge less intense, less important. I'm not identifying with it, so it has lost its power over me. It's still there under the lamp post, but it's slowly withdrawing out of the halo of light and back into the darkness.

I think the best thing I can do for myself right now is to take 15 or 20 minutes to meditate. Then I'll go pick up Mabel from her friend's house and get on with the rest of my day.

Thank goodness I was willing and able to take this detour from the Road to Bingeville. It's a different path than the one I'm used to, but the scenery's a whole lot nicer.


gl said...

Congratulations on taking the detour - this post really inspired me, it goes to show that although it's hard not to keep heading down the old familiar road, it is possible to choose a different track as long as you're conscious that it's there.


Joc said...

That is such a familiar scenario for me too, as soon as I am alone I head to the pantry. It has been one of my hardest habits to break. For me it was a bit of a control thing. Growing up my mum controlled the food we ate rather tightly, so as soon as she was gone, we all used to sneak into the pantry and go mad with whatever was there.

I must sound like a complete oddball but I find talking out loud to myself helps, and since there is no one there to hear it, did I really talk at all? ;) Just breaking the silence with my own voice helps to bring me out of my habitual stupour and ground me in reality - it is easier then to walk away from the pantry and find something else to do.

Good on you for seeing it for what it was.

Nicola said...

I'm so glad you took the time to write this post. For me it banishes another "all or nothing" trait thrust at us by the dieting industry. They all say "Food is fuel, food is not love, food is not for comfort". But your post made me realise that food is for comfort and it is a good way to show our love and appreciate for someone, but that there is also a line between normal and compulsion.

I feel pleased that for once I am being treated as though I am intelligent enough to deal with that, rather than being nannied into being told that I must never use food for anything other than fuel.