This week I would like to share a personal experience with you about where I am on my journey with regards to comfort eating.
Let me begin by sharing with you what happened to trigger the start of a comfort eating moment for me. As some of you know we were due to complete on a house sale on Friday. In the UK the system is all about exchanging contracts and money on the same day. We were selling our lovely cottage in Ashdown Forest and buying a larger house that we could eventually make our full time home. Everything was going well Friday morning. We had the furniture loaded on the truck and were waiting for the phone call to tell us the keys were ready for collection!
When we got the call we discovered to our horror that our cottage was sold but the building society would not release the funds to buy our new house. On further investigation we discovered there was a part of the paper trail missing. It was the error of the building society and they were waiting for someone to produce the paperwork. All within their organisation, no one we could chase and out of our control! Basically as I write our furniture is in storage and we still do not have resolution.
As you can imagine this was and to some extent is very stressful. So what happened with regard to my eating habits…..
That morning I had eaten a good healthy breakfast with lots of protein. At this stage no stress just excitement. I’d supplied chocolate biscuits for the removal men and had one of those too, still no comfort eating. By 5pm we were hanging around waiting to get into the storage unit so I went into a supermarket to get some sandwiches.
Here is where it starts to get interesting. I wasn’t hungry and had no cravings but forced myself to eat a sandwich. This was a new response, in the past I think I would have by now eaten all the biscuits and in the supermarket got lots of other goodies. So what had happened to my comfort eating? I realised I was still conscious about my eating and more aware of my body. Interestingly it seemed I had some beliefs about the importance of eating something to keep my body going. There might even be something positive in that.
My sister very kindly offered us a bed for the night. We offered to pay for take away Indian Food as a thank you. This is where things got a bit more intense. The food was good but I’m not sure how much of it I actually tasted. I ate quickly and kept going even after my stomach was giving me signals of discomfit and fullness. There was a part of me observing this but a greater part of me ignoring all the signals and eating more.
Did it make me feel better? Absolutely not. It was just a distraction.
Joe and I had not spent much time together during the day to process our experience because he had been driving the van and doing the heavy work (metaphor there I think). We now took a moment to express our feelings, acknowledge the situation and re-focus ourselves. We reviewed what action needed taking. We had taken all the action that was possible at this stage. There was nothing more we could do and still isn’t until tomorrow (Monday). We made sure we connected emotionally. We also did a reality check on our situation.
Is this life threatening? No.
Can we survive it? Yes.
Do we have the ability to take the action we need to take at the time we need to take it? Yes.
Have we asked for help? Yes, this was a big one for us. Both Joe and I are very independent and tend to avoid asking others for help. We allowed ourselves to accept help from a number of people and realised how much support and love we have around us.
This is what allowed us to feel better not the food. We took this further by adopting a perspective that may not be true. We asked ourselves what is the positive intention behind having this experience in our lives right now?
This is a very profound thing to do, it is making the assumption that on some level we create our own reality. It really doesn’t matter if this is true or not. What matters is that by taking this perspective we were able feel as if we were back in control of our lives. We came up with a list of positive intentions and benefits to this experience that allowed us to feel better. None of it was connected to food!
On a practical level, the problem is still unresolved. The chances are it will get resolved one way or another on Monday. Whatever happens we can handle it even if it is inconvenient. It may well cost us a lot of money however money is not as important as realising our value as human beings. Our value remains constant no matter what happens.
I’ve used the blog as therapy for myself this week and hope you will be okay with the indulgence. For me this has also been an opportunity to notice how much my relationship with food has changed. I would love to hear from you about comfort eating this week. I am interested in hearing from those of you who experience comfort eating in your life at the moment. The following will hopefully help you begin your transformed relationship with food, keep a diary about your comfort eating:
- If you notice the urge to comfort eat before you reach for the food write down what is going on for you. What is the situation? How are you feeling? What do you need? Once you have done this if you still want to eat do so. Afterwards write down how you feel now, did it help?
- If you eat first and then realise you’ve been comfort eating write down a review of what happened and how you feel now.
- Either way find someone you can reach out to and share your reflections. You can do so on my blog if you wish. It needs to be someone who understands that their role is to be a listener. Evaluation and advice are unhelpful in this process.
Let me know how you get on.
I’d also like to hear from people who have already changed their relationship with food. How did you do it? Sharing your ideas in the comments will help others so let’s hear from you.
I’ll let you know next week what happened with the house! By the way we do have somewhere to live for those of you who are wondering.