Why do I want the brownie?
I hung up from a phone call and told myself to get a brownie. They are the best brownies. We bought them from a local bakery. They are gooey and good. I hung up the phone and thought to myself “the brownies are in the kitchen, go ahead and get one. You had a great breakfast today, you totally deserve the brownie. It’s not a big deal”. But it is a big deal, because after I eat that brownie I will feel like shit, physically and emotionally. I know how sugar makes me feel – like crap. Then I will be mad at myself for allowing myself to eat something that makes me feel like crap. Then more thoughts will start – sugar causes cancer, will my tumor come back? Will a new one start? Will I get diabetes? Am I making myself sick? Then the shame will start – I’ll never lose weight. What’s wrong with me? Why did I eat the brownie? Why can’t I just eat healthy? Then sadness will set in – I can’t do it. I can’t lose weight. I’m my own worst enemy.
All of this – anger, fear, shame, sadness…. all from a stinking brownie!
This is the mental anguish I can experience on a regular basis when it comes to certain food. It can be a little stressful.
So today, instead of diving into the brownie I decided to spend a few minutes writing in my journal about why I wanted to eat the brownie. What was happening in my life the moment I wanted that gooey goodness?
I took a moment to retrace my steps. I hung up the phone, I wrote an email, I talked to my mom, I started researching ads for my business – THE BROWNIE! OK, why do business ads trigger my desire for this delicious desert? Well, let’s see…. ads make me think about marketing. More specifically, they make me think about marketing myself and putting myself out there as a coach. The world will see me, but I just want to hide with my brownie. I want to stay covered and hidden. What will people think? What will people say? Can I do this? Will this work? In this rabbit hole of self-doubt and judgement I ask myself some questions - Will the brownie have the answers? Will the brownie tell me what to do? What not to do? The answer – NO. The brownie will give me an instant of joy followed by a day of regret, beating myself up. I’m torn between the thought of joy, letting myself eat what I want without stress, and sadness knowing it will bring me down. I decide to tune into my body for support. Our bodies constantly send us physical cues to know if we’re heading in the right direction. The trick is to stop and pay attention to what we’re feeling. So, I decide to imagine both scenarios and notice what I feel.
First, I imagine that I eat the brownie. My stomach feels tight, nauseous, I can feel it coming up and I want to gag. Next, I imagine that I don’t eat the brownie. The nauseous feeling is gone, and I notice I feel lighter. My body knows it doesn’t want the brownie, but what about my mind? Why is my mind telling me to eat the brownie? When I think about it, and if I’m really being honest with myself, I know that my mind thinks the brownie is going to comfort me. It’s kinda like a big hug telling me everything is going to be OK. Truth is, I have used food this way for a very long time. Food was the friend who wouldn’t make fun of me. Food was the friend who didn’t criticize what I was wearing, or how I looked. Food was there. It was quiet, loving, and made me feel good in the moment. The feeling I would get eating ice cream out of the container was – freedom! Freedom from what? Freedom from the sadness that got stuffed down with each spoonful. Wow.
Today I realized just how much I still use food as comfort. Food has been my drug of choice – to help me escape, or rather to provide the illusion of escape. All it’s really done is create a mess in my head of guilt, shame, anger, and fear. So, how does one break this cycle? Awareness is key. Acknowledging the cycle exists is the only way to do anything about it – it’s the only way to begin to heal.
Food is not a friend. It does not have power or influence over me. I am in control of what I eat, and when I eat. This is not about depriving myself. This is merely about recognizing what triggers a very old pattern of emotional eating. It’s about learning to choose nourishment that feels good to my body, and about being mindful when I eat. This is a journey, it will take time and patience. It’s not a race. There is no quick fix! Trust me, I’ve tried them all. And today, I’m winning.