After writing part I of How to End Food Obsession, I knew that it would take more then just one post. Heck, it couldn’t hurt to be reminded of this daily! I will do my best to post about this topic often, as I feel it’s important to talk about.
As I mentioned in part I, I would turn to food when something extremely stressful happened to me. A few of those times were when there was a death in my family, my first break up, and graduating college and not knowing what the heck was next.
Though these are all difficult situations, they unfortunately are going to happen to us all, and some on more than one occasion. We all will deal with heartbreak, death, and changes in our life. It’s the way that life is.
I started using food to cope when I was 17. Before that, I had no care in the world when it came to food. But when someone close to me passed away, I was in shock and didn’t know how to deal with what I was feeling. I turned to a diet to help me have something ‘to do’.
I was able to overcome this situation when family and friends helped. They stepped in, luckily. They saw that I was beginning to go down an unhealthy path. My friends noticed me talking about my body more and acting strangely around food and told my parents they were worried about me. Before I went to college, with the help of a counselor I was able to overcome the disordered thinking and habits and for once truly dealt with my stress and pain from losing someone. (Although I was never diagnosed with an ED, I am glad I went to a counselor. I would recommend seeing a professional, it helped me see things that I wasn’t able to see on my own)
I went through most of college without disordered eating. There was one point where a boyfriend broke up with me unexpectedly and I felt myself slipping back into old habits with food, but I quickly realized it and nipped it in the butt. I knew that college was a once in a lifetime experience and that I had to live it up and certainly could not do that with disordered eating.
I actually felt at times that I was the empowered friend when it came to negative body talk. I tried NOT to do it. I lived in a house with 40 other girls in my sorority and a lot of them talked poorly of themselves and some had serious eating problems. Even if I was thinking badly about myself, I tried to not to say it. I have always had that in me – I want to help others feel better about themselves.
But you see, that’s also a problem. Although I didn’t say anything bad about my body, I still sometimes felt negative about myself. I truly did not beat disordered eating and thinking until this past year, when I was 25. It took me nearly 8 years from when it began and I’m not 100% there, but I feel I’ve come a long way and I can actually practice what I preach.
My disordered habits will always be in me. They can come out at anytime. But I choose not to let it happen. Can I say with 100% certainty that I won’t ever fall back into old habits? No. I can’t say anything that I do is 100% certain, nothing in life is. But I can work day by day to achieve my best at keeping it away.
How to End Food Obsession
Think positive, even when you have an urge to think negative…
The other night after work I ate my dinner. It was “Taco Tuesday” and I had my usual taco with a side of tortilla chips and salsa. Later on, I felt like I wanted to eat. I was not hungry physically. But I really wanted to eat. I wanted cereal. So, I had a bowl of cereal. It was a large bowl too. I wasn’t hungry, but I ate it. It felt good to eat it and I enjoyed it. I felt a slight feeling of guilt, but quickly told the voice to be quiet and that from where I’ve come, this is great. Last year I would have had five bowls of cereal to the point of feeling sick or even getting sick. Now, I can have some cereal and then be done with it. That’s progress to me. I don’t say “oh, now I’ve really blown it, I must consume the entire box of cereal!”. I stop. Take a moment to think and I’m over it.
Do no expect perfection…
Even though I personally feel that I’ve beaten disordered eating and thinking, I am not a perfect eater. I still eat without being hungry and past my fullness. And I still eat more junk food then I would like. BUT, I eat what I want and I don’t tell myself ‘no’ or have silly food rules. This makes my life a million times better vs when I was living in a restricting dieting world. Do I have more work to do? YES, absolutely. I will always be working on this. I want to eat better for health reasons and I want to stop eating past my fullness the majority of the time. It’s a day to day process. If I over eat one day, I start with a clean slate the next.
Find another outlet to deal with stress…
Easier said then done, right? Well, this one is not easy. I still have to work at this. But when you find another outlet other then food to deal with stress, it makes a world of difference. What honestly works for me is talking about it to someone, like my boyfriend Andy, my mom, or even my boss. Just letting out something that is bothering me feels like such a relief. When I bottle things in, my stress just grows to the point where I feel out of control.
Exercise is also my outlet to relieve stress, which I usually do in the mornings before I even have time to think about food. So do I go for a run anytime I feel like I am going to stress eat? Absolutely not. But sometimes just going outside and playing with my dogs helps. Just doing something active to get my mind off of reaching for food helps when I want to use it to cope.
Eat what you want…
Seriously eat what you want. If you eat chocolate all day, then so be it. But when you begin to let yourself eat what you really want those cravings reduce. I promise you that. You begin to understand your hunger and cravings more where it feels natural and normal.
Do I crave chocolate all day? No. Do I crave potato chips all day? No. Do I still eat those foods? Yes. In fact, I had potato chips last night with my dinner. I had a handful and was done with it. I also had two ‘fun size’ candy bars from Halloween for dessert.
Old ‘restrictive’ Lindsey would have already plowed through the Halloween candy seeing as it’s December already. Non-Food Obsessed Lindsey is able to keep the bowl of Halloween candy in the kitchen without eating it all in one sitting and getting sick.
Think about the big picture…
I constantly remind myself that food is such a small part of life. I do not want to look back at my life only to realize I spent most of it food obsessed, miserable, and unhappy with my appearance. I remind myself each day that my life is more than food. It’s more than what I look like physically and it’s more than getting in my workouts. It’s about the people and experiences in my life that make me happy and allow me to grow as a person. I want to look back on my life remembering all of those times…not the times I stayed inside because I was having a ‘fat day’.
Stay tuned for a part III….