Food is Not The Answer

Jessica commented yesterday: “Thank you for sharing with us that you are a food liar too. It makes you human. A lot of people who have lost weight always act like they are reformed and they don’t have those problems anymore so it makes those of us who are weaker willpower feel that much more inadequate. =)”

I’m sure that my blog comes across as me being an expert at weight loss and keeping it off…it probably sounds like I don’t struggle, or I have an easy answer to everything. The truth is I don’t. I still struggle. A lot. I may not share everything on my blog because a lot of things are personal and sometimes it’s hard to get over the “who might read this?” voice in the back of my head. So I keep a lot to myself.

The last few months I have been going through some hard things. Sometimes in life there are rough patches in careers, relationships, friendships… Michael and I are fine (don’t worry!). We do have some issues come up once in awhile but anyone who says they never have issues in their relationship is lying–or delusional. πŸ™‚

When I injured my leg running I went to a dark place for a few weeks. Wallowing, self-pity. I was jealous and angry of everyone that was running. I avoided all the running blogs I used to enjoy because the envy was killing me. I avoided reading Monica’s recap on the Vegas Marathon because I had planned on running the Vegas Half and it was just too painful. So I avoided. Avoiding is something I’m good at.

Something else I’m good at is stress eating and bingeing. That was my method of dealing with EVERYTHING back in the day. Grandfather died? Eat candy. Bad breakup? Gorge myself on entire pizzas. Stress? Eat dessert. I’ve written about my binge eating demons before.

While this was something that I used to do a lot, I find that the healthier I get, the less I turn to food to cure me of whatever ails me. I don’t have some sort of magic ability to resist temptations but I guess my trick is giving myself the “permission” to binge. Guess what I found? That I once I stopped beating myself up for the urge to binge, I didn’t WANT to binge. Not once have I turned to food in the last few months to soothe me. Sure I’ve been doing some stress eating here and there but I find that following my 90/10 Rule I don’t fall back into old habits.

90% of the time I still eat healthy, balanced, whole food meals and 10% of the time I splurge, or “stress eat.” I think that prevented me from having the desire to binge. Also: sticking to my workout routine is something that is constant and stable in my life and it’s DEFINITELY helped me stay on track. No matter what is going on in my life the workouts that I enjoy are always there.

The recent stressors in my life have had the complete opposite effect on me: zero appetite. That’s something I’ve noticed over the last few years. Where food was once the answer, it no longer appeals to me. Maybe that comes with age and maturity. Who knows?

Or maybe it’s the realization that I WILL REGRET bingeing. I will immediately feel ill, guilty, anxious and worse than I felt before I ate everything in sight. Same with drinking too much to numb whatever demons might be demanding attention: why? So you can feel ill and throw up, or have a hangover the next day? No matter what the addiction is that we use to soothe, we’ll regret it tomorrow. There will always be days like this.

Something else that keeps me balanced and stable are my kitties. There is no better cure to stress, depression or anxiety like a purring fur-monster that just adores you.

Fat Kitty is my shadow, glued to my side. When I’m feeling sad he seems to know it immediately and he turns into Super Cute Lovable Kitty until I smile and cheer up (and it works every time).

I’m figuring things out. I’m doing better. I think my spirits are lifting a little bit. I’m glad I made it through without turning to food to help me. And I won’t lie–nicer weather and spring flowers do have something to do with my improved mood.


And now for some cheery music by my favorite Beatle…

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right


QUESTION: Is food the answer for you? How do you deal with issues without turning to food?

20 Responses

  1. also? the workout routine is most likely a stress reliever in itself, so it’s taking place of or reducing the want to eat.

    and yeah, if you’re really doing a 90% healthy + balanced, that 10% is good. πŸ™‚

    kitties!! Basil helps me in that way, too… such a soother – he knows when I really need the cuddles.

    1. VERY good point…the exercise keeps me balanced and relieves a lot of stress.

      Basil looks like he’d be really good at cuddles. πŸ™‚ I can’t wait for Michael and me to get a dog….

  2. It’s hard to find the balance between what you keep on and off the blog – I completely agree. Sometimes I feel like I look perfect too, and I am SO not. I try to make sure I do a post pretty often that explains my short comings so there’s no mistaking it. And I do agree with the exercising part. Before, if I had a bad day I’d binge until I was sick and it would lead to a downward spiral of feeling bad about myself, so I’d eat more, disappoint myself, eat even more, etc. Now, I pick myself up as soon as I can and I go for a run! What a difference.

    1. It is hard. Sometimes you want to share, other times you just don’t want to share ANYTHING. That balance is hard, especially with other people involved.

      Like you fitness has helped a lot with those urges and tendencies to binge. So glad I have that in my life!

  3. Awww….my husband plays that song for me on the winter equinox every year. It’s our reminder that the days will start getting longer. Glad you’re feeling better.

  4. Today has been a bit of a struggle for me, but I have been better with not turning to food. I’ve been trying to use the exercise as a stress reliever, rather than the food, and it has worked, partially. Even though today has not been the greatest, I just have to let it go, and focus on the here and now. Move forward, and not have guilt about it. That’s what I’m working towards!

  5. Stress is hard to find new ways to deal with when food used to be the default answer. However, sometimes food does make you feel a little better (depending on what you have). Making a latte for me can be a real comfort if I am in a funk.

    Most people will disagree, but I think it is okay to turn towards food once in a while as long as you are able to turn away again.

    The kitties are so cute – and I totally agree that they can be stress busters. Just petting them can calm me down.

    1. Last night I was sitting on the bar stool in the kitchen feeling sad and angry and upset. Fat Kitty jumped up to sit next to me and just sat there purring, nudging me, until I noticed and would pet him. He just KNOWS when I need attention.

      The term “comfort food” can be very helpful too…if I’m sick I want comfort food. Soup, sandwiches, mac n’ cheese…and I DO feel better when I eat it. But I guess the distinction for me is OVEREATING those things turns into a negative…and when you’re sad you don’t often know when to stop eating.

  6. As emotional as I am, I’m also a very logical person and once it really sunk in that eating wasn’t gonna solve problem x,y or z, then I learned to just sit with the feelings. The feelings hurt but I eventually learned I could survive them, and it would be a double triumph once I did (pain gone AND no weight gain). Eating was just going to compound the problem. But you’ve got to take that moment between impulse and hand-in-the-chip-bag to allow your grown-up brain to process. I tell myself that food solves hunger and nothing else. (Don’t mean to sound like a perfecto smarty pants, ’cause I’m not. Just been at this a long ass time)

    1. I think I’m realizing that food isn’t going to solve x, y, z…it was a slow realization but I think I finally realize that.

      “food solves hunger and nothing else” is a GREAT mantra to have!

  7. Firstly, I’m so happy that I am able to read your blog again. Was sick on Monday and then from Tuesday till today, we had a power outage at work and home πŸ™
    It’s so true what you write. Giving yourself permission to splurge sometimes makes me also not want to eat emotionally and I too have learned how not to act with food on my emotions.
    And I also found that when I don’t exercise, I have a bigger appetite. For me, exercise depress my eating which is great. Therefor I eat healthy and in small quantities πŸ™‚

  8. That comment is very true! It takes a better human to admit their weaknesses than the one who lies too. I’m a huge fan of your weight-loss journey because you are very smart about it. Yeah, stress happens, and finding a healthy way to cope can be a challenge, it’s great that you no longer turn to binging.

  9. There are moments since I’ve started my weight-loss journey that I’ve avoided binging or stress eating by taking it out at the gym, or by talking to friends/family, or even using retail therapy. Lately, I can’t indulge in retail therapy because I’m broke! Every time I turned to something besides food, I was amazed at how powerful that made me feel. Every time I have binged, however, it’s left me feeling just like you said: guilty, depressed, angry at myself. It’s a tough cycle to break, because food felt so comforting for so many years. I’d like to say that I’m passed that now, but I’m not. Not yet. But I at least acknowledge what I’m doing instead of doing it blindly. And, at least I’m trying not to make the wrong choice, whereas before, I wasn’t trying at all!

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