I eat in light of my emotions. It’s true. I justify something I’m working on avoiding (sugar/carbs) by telling myself my body just used a lot of energy on whatever I was stressed about. I will even look at my watch to see if my heart rate is up so I have evidence of these calories I’ve burned. My watch has yet to support this idea.
I do not taste food as well as others appear to and the taste bud test in anatomy lab confirmed it. Sinus surgery two years ago decreased my ability to taste even more. This leaves me to wonder why I still reach for chocolate or a buttery something when my mind is heavy. While keeping an anxiety journal, I realized my need for food comes from the desire to fill my anxious emotions.
Let’s be honest. When my day at the hospital is stressful I want coffee or dark chocolate. I would prefer something sweet over salty unless it is buttery. When I am overwhelmed at home my coffee pods are easily accessible. I rarely take a nap, unless I am working the night shift, so I just reeve up. In the moment, I probably think the caffeine has little effect on me other than calming me down. Let’s face it. My heart rate may not actually know what a resting state should be.
In 2019 I started exercising 5 days a week. I go early in the morning. Other than one cup of coffee, I do my best to wait until noon to eat. Some days I am genuinely hungry or hangry and I eat a preferred, healthy breakfast. Either way I get on with my morning. I worship, listen to God’s Word, focus on gratitude and fix my attention on something other than my worries. I love mornings and usually my morning routine carries me until noon.
By the afternoon, my focus starts falling apart with the busyness of a day of work, the long zoned-out hours of editing photos in my office, or the house which never seems to stay picked up. After my planned lunch, I can eat. By mid-afternoon, I choose, more often than not, to eat for my mood. Carrots rarely make the cut. Dark chocolate is welcome anytime.
Food is more functional for me more than enjoyable, and I have enough food restrictions to be annoying. Food shame used to come quickly. Last year I realized my poor eating habits first came from not eating because I was worried about what I ate, to eating everything I said I wouldn’t eat because I was too hungry. I began to understand how negative food had become.
If I am not careful, exercise can become my fix to food shame. Exercise helps stabilize my mood and brings great joy in my life. If I let it take the place of the food shame I can easily beat myself up when I miss a work-out. I love the gym and want to keep it that way. Instead of replacing one self-medication (food) with another (gym) I need to continue working on these two things.
Intervention: 1. When I reach for something to shove in my mouth, pause to evaluate why I’m eating it. Is it to cover over something I’m feeling? If so, I want to place God’s truth in the gap instead of food. If it is because I want to enjoy it and have no emotions mixed with it, I’ll go ahead. I will give myself permission to enjoy it in moderation.
2. If I am feeling guilty for missing a workout, I will pause to celebrate the rest my body so badly needs. I will use gratitude over the ability to use my body to move and to accomplish hard things. I can choose to have no more guilt. I’ll get back to the gym tomorrow.