Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Hills Are Alive with the Smell of Potatoes

My hometown's claim to fame is its potato chip factory. These chips are distributed through the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and are quite popular. On rainy, foggy days like today, when you walk outside the entire town is greeted to the aroma of frying potatoes. I suppose it's the fog that holds down the emissions from the plant on the east end of town, but I can tell you I live on the very western end of town and our house is surrounded by this smell. All I have to say is, it smells a lot better than the other frequent smell our town is subjected to: the liquid manure the nearby farmers spread on their fields!

Fortunately for me, potato chips have never been one of my trigger foods or even on the top 10 of my favorite snack foods. Not so for my husband: his father worked for the above-mentioned potato chip company for more than 40 years and brought home an endless, free supply of their chips and other salty snack foods. Currently Hubby's favorite treat is their sourdough pretzels, which again is not one of my favorites -- they're too hard for my liking and scratch the inside of my mouth. I am definitely more of a sweets person, although I do like the occasional salty snack like nuts.

I haven't mentioned my husband's weight loss efforts here in the blog for some time. In case you're new to this blog or have forgotten, he went on the weight loss drug Meridia back in May. He has done phenomenally on this medicine -- so far he has lost somewhere around 40 pounds. It has reduced his appetite and helped him drastically cut his snacking and overeating.

Since he's been on this medicine I've been rather jealous, wanting my own magic pill to make the urgency and compulsion to overeat go away. I suppose I could have gone to my own doctor and asked to be put on it, but then I fell into my summer of anxiety and depression and wound up on Lexapro, which seemed to make the compulsive eating even worse.

But now that's changed. This Wellbutrin is working so much better for me. Granted, I do find myself more prone to tears -- when I'm laughing, when I'm hurt, even when some sentimental song comes on -- and I have discovered this is a common side effect. But this actually seems good after the depressing emptiness I was experiencing. I'm also realizing how important it is for me to feel my emotions and not suppress them, whether I do it myself or with medication: the more I feel, the less I turn to food.

Let's face it, though: the biggest change has been with my appetite and my compulsions to overeat. I still get hungry, but it seems like I'm finally just feeling my physical hunger instead of all the cravings and mental urges to eat. For example, yesterday I worked on our kitchen floor for almost six hours straight: normally I would have to stop at least once to eat something, but yesterday I was fine. My snacking has greatly reduced, and when I do, I find myself truly satisfied with so much less. Instead of being haunted by binge foods calling my name, I actually kind of forget they're there!

I'm not saying all of my cravings are gone, but I think they're becoming more intuitive instead of driven by compulsive reasons. Last night as I was finishing up the floor Hubby called me on the phone and asked me what I wanted for supper. I admitted I was really craving a burger, and he brought me my favorite one (not from a fast food restaurant, but a nice sit-down place with quality food) and I was satisfied eating half of it. Afterwards I saw the snack foods sitting where we keep all of them, and while the old habit would have been to dive in to them whether I was full or not, I wasn't interested at all.

As hard as I was trying to eat intuitively the last six months, doing my best to work on the environmental and psychological aspects of it, I realize now that there were neurobiological issues there that could not be overcome without medication. I wanted so badly to master IE "on my own" (hence my reluctance to ask for Meridia), but I realize now that I was fighting a losing battle.

This doesn't mean I'm going to rely on this "magic pill" to solve all my problems. I still need to work on expressing and managing my emotions; learning to become more self-assertive; work on avoiding the almost OCD-like tendency of falling into diet mentality (let's face it, my compulsive need to weigh myself several times a day is not much different than a person who constantly washes their hands); and getting more in touch and respecting my body.

It feels so great to share good news on this blog again. I actually feel eager to write now, which is a major sign of my recovery. Thank goodness! And thanks to all of you who have hung in there and supported me in these topsy-turvy months.

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