I've been thinking all day about a comment Waisting Time wrote on my previous post (Exploring Anger). She said:
The old saying goes... it's not what you are eating, it's what's eating YOU. Sometimes there is truth to that. Sometimes not. Sometimes for me it is just about food and habit and boredom.
I couldn't agree more.
Sometimes I overeat because something is eating me, something very current, especially if I feel a person close to me (mostly my husband) has slighted me or disrespected me in some way.
Sometimes it's all about celebrating... my birthday, his birthday, the cat's birthday, that we accomplished some chore, an unexpected sale, that the snow melted... any old thing! Celebrating has always involved overeating, rich foods, deserts and buckets of Tums.
Sometimes it's all about being bored. I don't know how that got started, but I can recall many back-to-back refrigerator raids associated with boredom and perhaps as a remedy for it.
Then there are the pot-luck parties, open house events, fund-raisers, gallery openings, etc. OMG, I can graze way past the need for Tums when the opportunity arises.
At a workshop about a year ago, a local diva hosted a party at her spectacular 2-story artists' studio condominium. She set out a lavish table full of exotic cheeses, crackers, breads, chocolates, pastries, fruits and nuts. Being somewhat shy and always uncomfortable in social situations where I don't know people well and where I feel a class difference, I hung out at the table while the others put a few goodies on a plate and then gravitated to an adjacent sitting room. I filled my plate, ate standing by the table, filled it again, ate again... and again... and again... I probably stuffed 4,000 to 5,000 calories into my bulging tummy that evening.
In my case, I'm fairly sure that most of my overeating in recent years is long-established habit; while a much smaller portion is directly in response to current issues that I can't or won't face.
However, what's behind the habit? Why hasn't long-term diet success (like twice reaching goal weight in the Weight Watchers program and keeping it off or a year or more) been sufficient time to break old habits and establish new, healthy-eating habits? Why is it that EVERY TIME after dieting, I returned to repeated and habitual overeating and bingeing?
I'm 67 years old and have repeated the cycle over and over for 50 years. So now, I am looking behind the habit at emotions and related patterns of eating as ways of coping that must have been firmly established long ago.
At age 5, I had significant childhood grief at the loss of my daddy (fatal car accident) and temporary loss of my mommy (for 2 years while she returned to college immediately after his death). There were no tears allowed. Mommy set the example... stoic and determined to find a way to support her two kids... no time to cry. I recall my paternal grandmother, who took care of us for two years, saying "Don't cry! Your daddy in heaven will hear you and you will make him sad." During these two years, she'd give us sweet treats to make us stop crying any time we had an emotional or physical injury.
In all my life I only remember seeing my mom cry, very briefly, one time and that was more in frustration and anger than in grief. I never saw my grandmother cry. We were admonished and bribed with sweets not to cry. It seems quite reasonable to figure that sadness is what is behind the habit that manifests in overeating and bingeing... probably much accumulated sadness, starting with daddy and including the death of pets and all the other losses, defeats, illnesses and hurts of my life.
One thing I may need to do to break the overeating habit is to feel the grief and to cry. Yikes. There are such strong prohibitions against this... I can feel myself stomping on the break pedal. So I pray for strength and guidance to crack open the floodgate on the lake of tears inside my heart... to sit with the sadness, one journal post at a time.