So... my *secret eating*.....this one's a doozie (and long)!!
I've been thinking and reflecting a lot about this part of my food addiction and eating disorder. I've also talked to a lot of people here who experience the same feelings and behaviour around hiding what they're really eating....it's been amazing to share our experiences and to realize I'm not alone in my battle.
I know I definitely have a propensity to the physical addiction to processed carbohydrates and sugar. But on the emotional side, I believe, for me, it basically comes down to food deprivation. It started when I was young as my parents controlled what I ate, but ultimately became what it is today, which is something I impose on myself. I remember having this feeling of being deprived quite early, but it really came into play during junior and high school. I remember not being allowed to eat junk (my dad called sugar *white death*!), and when we DID have it, it was a TREAT and had to be literally counted out so we all got our share, as there was a fear that if I didn't get my share right away, that it wouldn't be around later. This started a habit of having to eat any treat very QUICKLY and possessively in order to make sure I get *mine*. I still have that perceived fear... I can't have cookies or chips or anything else *junky* in the house, because it CALLS me... I obsess that it's in the house and I feel the NEED to eat it right away... like I'm still afraid it will be eaten by someone else. I think my brothers may also share some of these feelings, although at a much milder level, and I don't believe they developed the bad habits I did or had the same crippling self-esteem issues that led to an emotional dependency.
But I digress.... so we just didn't have candy and such in our house, and I remember wanting it, and I remember spending my allowance on it. The closest thing to junk I remember having in the house were chocolate chip granola bars that we were given for our school lunches, but Mom counted those, so they were un-sneakable. I remember coming home and just wanting sugar. I'm sure some of this came from an emotional need to fill a void I was feeling... probably due to normal teenager angst, but I was on the hunt, and I had to get creative. I remember taking unsweetened cocoa and mixing it with icing sugar and then taking it to my room and eating it dry with a spoon... that was my after school snack. Or I'd pour maple syrup on cheerios. So I was already eating in private back then. I remember babysitting and rummaging through pantries looking for snacks... the best was when they left stuff for me, but even if they didn't I'd search until I found something!
So I think I have a predisposition for becoming dependent on unprocessed carbs and sugar, but I also know some of my behaviours were learned. I remember finding wrappers from things Mom ate in private and knowing she was hiding food. Not her fault, but these 2 factors – the carb/sugar sensitivity and learning from my mother, combined to create some behaviours that I hid from people and because I didn't deal with whatever was driving me to eat my feelings, the behaviour ended up snowballing as I grew older. I remember my roommate in university would buy a big bag of chips, and to my amazement, she'd open the bag and take a few for a snack and then put the bag away... sometimes that bag would last a WEEK!! I would be in awe. I would never buy a bag for myself because I knew I couldn't be trusted NOT to eat the entire bag in one sitting, but I remember lying in bed at night obsessing about those chips.... they called to me... and once I remember even eating them all and then having to buy a replacement bag - all without her knowing. I remember feeling so amazed that she could just a eat a few, and then of course beat myself up because I knew I couldn't do that.
Fast forward to today, and here I am – in a cycle of deprivation, feeling weak and hating myself and then binging or eating crap to make myself feel better.
The whole process goes something like this:
THOUGHT: I am fat, and therefore I SHOULD NOT be eating junk food. If someone sees me eating crap, they will judge me and think badly of me. Plus it will be disappointing to the people who either know I'm trying to lose weight or who are hoping I finally get my act together and lose the weight.
ACTION: I DONT usually eat junk food in front of people due to the thoughts above.
THOUGHT: I feel deprived and angry that I'm not *allowed* to eat what I want.
ACTION: I eat what I want in private.
THOUGHT: I'm weak and hate myself and my actions. And I chalk it up as another failure.
ACTION: I will usually continue to eat crap since I have already CHEATED and FAILED.... and this almost always leads right into the next....
THOUGHT: .....since I've already sabotaged any effort I was making, I may as well keep on cheating and failing, with the PROMISE that I will stop and try again come tomorrow, or Monday or whenever, like I am going to become a magically different person on THAT day!!! I always know this promise of starting anew is a lie (because I've never been successful). But pretending to believe it makes me feel better, and gives a rationale or excuse as to why I SHOULD eat everything I want now, because as of this upcoming MAGIC DAY, I will NEVER EAT THIS FOOD AGAIN (and so, while I'm at it, I'd better eat a lot of it!). Really, I'm just giving myself license to eat, which was probably my subconscious goal from the beginning.
ACTION: plan my new day: MONDAY.... start the day well...... maybe do well for a couple of days even.....
THOUGHT: start getting a craving.... maybe physical, maybe emotional, but I start the obsessing and have trouble not letting it get a stranglehold on me.... thoughts start entering my mind like:
“it's ok, just one won't hurt..”
“you've had a hard day, you deserve it..”
“you've done so well, you deserve it!”
"it's not fair that you can never eat that again"
“you know you're GOING to cheat at some point, why not now...”
and so on, and so on....
I start feeling deprived.... ANNDDDDD before you know it, we're back to thought #2 above and back into the cycle.
My hope is that what I've written above helps people understand how this all works. It takes up a LOT of energy and space in my head, at times rules my life, prevents me from being authentic and feeling like I have integrity because of all the secrecy and deceit, and cripples my efforts for TRUE transformation. And I'm tired of it!!! When I went out hunting for food and ended up buying and sneaking it last weekend, I made a big change in my behaviour by owning up to it, but I think the real breakthrough for me will be in NOT depriving myself. Not labeling anything as something I'm NOT ALLOWED to eat, but instead creating an eating plan and lifestyle wherein I CAN eat anything I want, as long as I account for it.
This is something that is really encouraged here – they call it the 90/10 rule... where you eat healthfully 90% of the time, and eat for PLEASURE and ENJOYMENT the other 10% of the time. They follow that here in that we get a dessert every night after our dinner..... it's a low calorie dessert, but the point is, we all get to eat something sweet and yummy every day. It's out in the open, it's PART of the meal plan, it's accounted for, and it's meant to be savoured and enjoyed. Here, I DON'T feel deprived and I'm not in the usual *all or nothing* mentality.... where I flip flop between allowing myself to eat nothing and feeling the need to eat it all. You can also look at this 'all or nothing' idea in that I expect myself to follow my deprivation diet PERFECTLY, or else I label myself a failure and don't follow it at all.
One of my main and REAL motivations to fix this is because it would devastate me to pass my behaviours along to my daughter (or my sons for that matter). Knowing that I have this physical sensitivity and knowing what I learned from MY mom (something I'm sure she would have hated), I know there's a real chance that Maya WILL learn from me... she's old enough to notice things now, and although she eats healthy foods, and we talk a lot about being healthy and how I am trying to lose weight so that I will be more healthy (ALWAYS in a positive light!), I know the best thing I can do is be a good role model for her. I want her to have treats and not feel deprived, and I don't want to always control what she eats – I want her to be able to make her own decisions about what she puts in her mouth. Obviously I want her to make healthy choices most of the time, and hope she is able to eat treats without feeling the need to eat all of them, but I know there's only so much I can do to control this, especially when she's older....and that the best way is to SHOW her by my own healthy actions.
Anyway, this is all leading to a new way to interact with food once I'm home and having to make decisions. I'm feeling empowered to make a change, and have high hopes (not expectations!) for myself.
My new approach will be CONSISTENCY, NOT PERFECTION.
I think it sums it up perfectly!!
As always, thanks for listening!! It is LATE... almost 11! so off to bed.....