Food and Weight: An Ongoing Journey

Yesterday’s NaBloPoMo Prompt Got Me Thinking…

Posted on: May 8, 2013


…about why I reach for comfort foods when I do.

The question was: “What makes you reach for a comfort food?”

My answer was:

“Lots of things make me reach for comfort foods: boredom, anxiety, unhappiness, anger…all the usual emotions one tries to shove down because they are not things that can be dealt with at whatever moment they are occurring. Any time there is an emotional hole it seems like food is what I have been trained to use to fill it.

One of the leaders that I like at at Weight Watchers tells the story of the kid who falls and scrapes his knee all to heck while his parents are out of the house. The kid goes crying to the babysitter, who gives him a cookie, telling him that the cookie will make it better.  The kid believes her, and instead of eating the cookie, he holds it to his knee.because he hasn’t yet been acculturated to eating things to take his mind off “bad” things like pain.

And the truth is we have learned to eat certain foods as comfort foods, to turn to them when we have feelings that we don’t want to deal with, or that are among those considered unacceptable to show under whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.

One of the hardest parts of doing Weight Watchers honestly is looking at this, by the way, and realizing that when I do stuff down feelings that that is something I am choosing to do.  I’m at the point where I can sometimes decide not to do that, but sometimes I find myself eating before I’ve even thought it out and made a conscious choice.  Hopefully, I will continue to become more conscious of the impulse before I run to the cabinet or fridge, but right now, it is what it is, and I am dealing with it as best I can. And, yes, there is always room for improvement.  I’m not making excuses, just acknowledging the truth of where I am at the moment.”

And that’s mostly the truth. See, the thing is that I am struggling right now. I am not weighing and measuring. I am not tracking. I am eating what I want, when I want, and not always making the kinds of healthy choices I know I am capable of making. The result is predictable; I am gaining weight.

Do I want to lose the weight I gained back? Yes. Do I want to get back on track? I believe I do.  Then why can’t I stop doing what I know will contribute to my unhappiness down the road?  I don’t have any kind of answer to that, let alone a good answer.

I’m not looking for sympathy here; I’m just acknowledging the truth for me right now.  I’m at a loss, and I have no idea why. RIght now, I’m just hoping that if I keep being honest about what is going on, I will be able, at some point, to peel away whatever the layers are and get to the cause of how I feel, so that I can deal with it.

Right now, it feels kind of hopeless.  I know what I want to be doing, but I’m not there. I know that there are a lot of things that losing the weight will fix, including some of the health issues that are depressing the heck out of me. I know I hate the way things are right now. Robert (a WW leader) used to say that we don’t change until staying the way we are becomes more painful than changing is.  I’m wondering how much pain I will have to heap onto myself before that happens — because that’s what it feels like.

And, yes, I am mad at myself for gaining back as much weight as I did.  I know it’s pointless to do that, because I cannot change what I have done, only what I will do.  But right now it just seems very hard to do that.

Ah, well, the main thing is that I am still here, and still trying – na matter how weird or screwed up my efforts are at the moment. People keep telling me that one of my major attributes is persistence, so I am praying that it kicks in again soon.

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4 Responses to "Yesterday’s NaBloPoMo Prompt Got Me Thinking…"

I struggle with the same problem. I feel depressed by the knowledge that I can never be casual about what I eat. If I don’t have some kind of regimen in place, monitoring every bite, I will gain back any weight loss. This feels like punitive to me, even though it’s on a background level.

On a related note, there are certain ingredients in prepared foods that make them particularly addictive. Much has been said about high fructose corn syrup, but another culprit is emerging from the shadows called excitotoxins. This is a class of additives that literally trigger your brain to continue eating past satiety and, it’s claimed, they actually can ‘excite’ your brain cells to death. The most well known is MSG or anything that’s derived from glutamic acid. Other red flags are anything ‘hydrolyzed’ or ‘autolyzed’ and aspartame. I feel like I’ve just been told that corporate interests were allowed to put crack in the food supply and now it’s up to me to figure out where it’s hiding so I can get clean.

Exactly – it feels punitive, so I resent it. Some days, it stays in the background, but there are days when i have stuff to do involving other people and food, and then it feels really bad, because it often feels like I have to deprive myself of what others can have without having to think about what they will trade off for it.

I’m thinking of just giving up on the formal dieting, and trying to stick to protein, veggies, fruits, and trying to eat less, but I know that that’s a dangerous route for me to try. because portion control is one of my issues. I look at what’s supposed to be a normal portion, and it’s about half of what *I* would consider normal.

I wish I could either come to terms with the weight I have, which would mean either getting my stamina back to deal with it or accepting that my life is going to be much more restricted (and the latter is something I don’t want), or fid a way to lose the weight that is realistic, doable, and won’t make me feel constantly like I must have my mind on food all the damned time.

The one thing I learned from Weight Watchers is that I need to fill myself up on food that has a low caloric density. This means loading up on low-fat, low-starch vegetables or fruit (as opposed to coconuts, avocados, corn, potatoes, etc.) and lots of low-cal liquid. If I don’t have room for the calories, I can avoid eating them. Try making fiber rich food 3/4 of every meal and throw in a no-cal 8 oz.
drink. A big red flag for me is post meal sleepiness. In my experience, if I eat too many carbs and not enough protein, I will crash out. Most people tell me that for them it’s the protein that does it to them, but not me.

The excitotoxins are just another trigger that makes me want to eat to excess. The most heinous being aspartame, which styles itself as a diet aid. These additives make me so angry because I believe that they are what is fueling my obesity in the first place. I have always hovered around that borderland of ‘plump, but not too heavy for hard physical exertion’. I feel that if I wasn’t being tricked into eating this addictive foods, perhaps I wouldn’t be so heavy at this point.

“The excitotoxins are just another trigger that makes me want to eat to excess. The most heinous being aspartame, which styles itself as a diet aid. These additives make me so angry because I believe that they are what is fueling my obesity in the first place. I have always hovered around that borderland of ‘plump, but not too heavy for hard physical exertion’. I feel that if I wasn’t being tricked into eating this addictive foods, perhaps I wouldn’t be so heavy at this point.”

I agree that better understanding of what sweeteners do would be very useful. I don’t understand how you are being tricked, though, especially if you know that aspartame is a trigger for you. Would you be willing to clarify that?

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