As I finished my Double Decker Taco Supreme, I used my sticky fingers to scrape off the last bits of guacamole smeared on the crinkly wrapping. Not a greasy blob wasted and not a pretty sight. I shouldn’t have been desperate for that last bite (I had just polished off a Crunchwrap Supreme and Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes) but you wouldn’t have known it if you watched my final, insistent bites. Immediately I drove to a trashcan where I disposed of the evidence of my gluttony. On that day, it might have been remains of the plastic that moments ago wrapped my feast. Or possibly a bag of hot, regurgitated Taco Bell.
“I’m a bottomless pit” I’d tell myself, matter-of-fact. My five minute meal of three fast food entree’s barely did the trick. My uneasiness remains but with an emerging wave of despair. Will nothing satisfy me?
My drug of choice.
At the height of the madness, I didn’t have the tools or insight to slow down and ask myself why I was shutting out the world by eating. If I was uncomfortable, I ate.
Angry? Cheez-its. Nervous? Trail Mix. Feeling bad about my body? A big plate of everything with a side of everything else – preferably standing, at the cupboard.
If you had told me I could take a pill to control my appetite- believe me, my sixteen year old self would have been off on a 6 mile bike ride into town, spending my only money on it. Oh wait…For the record, the pill only “worked” for keeping me up all night with heart palpitations.
After years of shutting out the world when something uncomfortable came my way, I finally learned to feel my feelings, without a side of Ranch Triscuits. I didn’t force myself to stop overeating or bingeing.
I just started paying attention.
I allowed myself to eat without judgment but I slowed it down. I ate what I wanted but paid attention to how I felt. Now I suppose if I didn’t care whether or not I was miserable – I could have continued stuffing myself with things that left me lethargic. But I did care! I do care! I want to be awake and alive and loving food at the same time! Nourishing myself at the same time!
Whether you’re a compulsive eater, binge eater, or struggle with day-to-day eating ’til you’re uncomfortable– I’d love to encourage you to slow down. So many struggling eaters will often insist that they just love food so much! That’s why they eat so much of it! Those same people often find themselves inhaling food without really tasting it. If you love food as much as you say you do – really be there for the experience of eating it. Doesn’t use food as a substitute for feeling.
I love this quote from Marc David (Eating Psychology Guru Extraordinaire): “If we eat fast or while in an anxious rush – which usually means without paying any attention, the brain literally does not have enough time to assess the nutritional profile of our meal. The central nervous system and our digestive tract are short-circuited in their ability to determine if our nutritional needs have been met. In the absence of this important information, the brain ultimately says something like “I know I just ate, I know there’s food in my belly, but I can’t quite figure out if I’ve gotten the nutrients the body needs, and if I’m indeed full. So I might as well play it safe and tell the body this: “I’m still hungry.”