Reflections Of A Food Binge
Was it really on my kid's leftover gingerbread house decor? Why yes, yes, indeed it was...
I had a flashback the other day of a time when I felt completely out of control around food. It came when I was putting away the gingerbread houses that my girls made this year.
Here's a true story of what happened in regards to the aforementioned gingerbread houses.
One summer day my girls were outside playing and I was inside trying to get some of my mama jobs done. I was going downstairs to the basement to do some laundry and out of the corner of my eye I spotted it. A box on the shelf beside the washer and dryer containing the leftover gingerbread making materials. We didn't use all the candy that year so I decided to save it knowing it would be completely fine to use as decor the following year. There were extra gum drops and those tiny hard colorful candy beads. The panels of the extra house were still in the shrink wrap. Along with the little gingerbread man that came with the set.
I didn't want to do it. I really didn't. I knew I would feel like crap afterwards if I did. I tried to walk away. I did the laundry. I made it upstairs and started to go about the rest of my kitchen chores. But before I knew it, I was downstairs rummaging through that damn box. Eating stale gum drops and the panels to next year's gingerbread house.
I was so disgusted with myself. I was feeling pretty good about my eating habits up until that point too. Seriously, what the HELL was wrong with me? Why did I do crap like this? Sabotage myself? And it didn't even taste good. I remember feeling so frustrated and completely defeated.
I proceeded to take that box and throw it in trash. I didn't even recycle that stupid thing. I found an old plastic bag, chucked the entire thing in there, and tied it up. I marched it right out to the trash can outside. In an effort to erase what I just did. In an effort to forget what just happened. In an effort to manage all the horrible feelings about myself that were washing over me.
And as I look at those gingerbread houses now, the guilt and shame come rushing back. But I can also see how far I've come. And how worth it doing the work to create a healthy relationship with food has been.
I also realize just how important these episodes were in getting to know myself, uncovering what I needed (nutritionally, emotionally, spiritually), and ultimately finding peace and balance.
Each one carried a message. I began to think of them as little notes to myself. And once I started to get curious about those messages, I was able to greet the behavior with kindness and compassion.
And that shift in perspective was huge. Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't exactly thrilled when I binged, ate compulsively, or lost control over food. I still got frustrated and mad at myself. But I also understood that the behavior was working for me in some way. Because I wouldn't do it if it wasn't!
Us humans are pretty clever that way. We are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. We don't do something if it is only going to bring about pain, guilt, or shame. There is always some sort of benefit. And it's up to us to figure out what that benefit is.
I discovered with time that the benefits of my dysfunctional relationship with food were actually quite profound. And those little notes to myself were incredibly powerful. And once I began to pay attention and build awareness of what I needed in the moment, I was able to do something about it!!
There were days when I was not meeting my needs nutritionally. Days when I was neglecting my self-care. Days when I wasn't getting enough sleep and wearing sleep deprivation as a badge of honor. And days when I was using food to opt out of vulnerability and connection. The list could go on for miles and I could probably write a book about everything these messages taught me.
I share this story with you to let you know that when it comes to food, I have done it all. I have binged. I have restricted. I have eaten secretly and hidden the evidence. Ahem, gingerbread house leftovers, case in point!! I have exercised compulsively. I have dieted. I have eaten out of stress and overwhelm.
But this experience has also equipped me with some pretty rockin' insight and the ability to understand how to push past the struggle.
And if there is one thing that I know for sure, it is this: there is immense beauty in any type of struggle around food. The struggle will make you stronger. It will make you better. I promise. All you have to do is embrace it.