Food and Feelings

I’ve been feeling really lazy in terms of exercise this week.  Lots of walking and a little bit of yoga; maybe I’ll do a little shredding after this post.  I do plan on getting out for a nice long-ish run early tomorrow morning.  I think it’s fine to be resting a lot after an intense training cycle and race, I suppose.  I feel like I need some exercise-adventure in my life.  Just something new and exciting, like surfing or rock climbing or mountain hiking or coral reef snorkeling.  Unfortunately, those things aren’t really options right now.  Anyone have any ideas for fun but still intense exercise options in NYC?

They were planting flowers all over campus today!  Mostly pansies and daffodils, but the colors were quite lovely — lots of periwinkle and lavendar shades.  This kind of thing makes me super happy.

Okay, no pictures today because I was pretty lazy, but also because I felt like I wasn’t eating healthfully enough or was eating too much.  A lot of times I feel negatively towards my relationship with food regardless of what fuel I use, but today I really did feel like I wasn’t giving my body what it needed.  I’m going to take pictures of everything for (at least) the next two weeks so I have a visual record at the end of each week.  I’ll only post highlights though so as not to bore you 🙂

Food, Love, Emotion:

I’ll be honest with you guys (and myself): in the past few weeks, I have been struggling with managing my emotions without turning to food.  Because of my activity level, this typically isn’t a major problem: if I have eaten several hundred extra calories, I’ll probably just burn them off on my next twelve miler.  But this isn’t the issue. The issue is that sometimes I eat when I am already full and sometimes I eat when I am feeling intense emotions, instead of turning to healthier outlets.  With that said, I am proud that I have been surviving (and even beginning to thrive) despite my mental illness.  It is not always easy to function through serious depression, but I have taken ownership over my disease in so many ways.  I see a therapist, I have lots of hobbies and passions that I can turn to, I have supportive friends and family members.  I acknowledge these triumphs and take pride in my improvements and newfound ability to love myself.  I think, however, that this might be the point at which I’m finally ready to begin moving away from using food as an emotional assistant.

These are the things that food can do for me:  fuel me through long days and workouts, help my brain and heart and organs to do their jobs, help me connect with those around me through social situations, and serve as a source of pleasure through cooking/experimenting/eating.  These are the things food can do for me.  Notice what I did not include in the list: food cannot solve my problems and it cannot be a friend.

For me, I think it is helpful to sketch out the reasons, emotions, and situations that cause me to turn to food:

1. Frustration: earlier tonight my computer was alternately not working or running really really slow (like Stone Age slow).  I reocgnized intellectually how frustrated and helpless this made me feel.  And then I proceeded to eat chocolate and granola.

2. Anxiety: when I feel tense or confused, food often seems like an easy remedy; it helps me ignore the situation rather than actually dealing with it.

3. Loneliness: this is the big one.  I have friends, acquaintances, family members, coworkers, peers, teachers, mentors.  I have a huge human support network who I can turn to when I feel sad or scared.  Learning how to do this will be integral, I think.

So this is where I am, emotionally, at this point.  I am a smart, educated woman.  I have begun the process of growing self-esteem over the last year, and I believe that this knowledge can translate to improved self-awareness regarding my eating patterns.  I think I’ll probably talk about these issues more in upcoming posts.  I apologize if that’s really not what you want to hear, but I think it’s something I need for my personal development.

Do you struggle with confusing food and feeling?  Do you have ideas or tips or thoughts about it?

See you tomorrow!


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sophia
    Mar 26, 2010 @ 00:23:45

    I think it’s brilliant that you listed out your emotions and feelings like that. The reason we turn to food for “comfort” is, I think, to drown out the real circumstances we are in and the emotions that confuse us. Food is simple, and food is physical…easier to deal with.


  2. Erin
    Mar 26, 2010 @ 01:04:12

    It’s good you can recognize emotion-driven eating for what it is but it’s a struggle for me, too. I’ve been blowing money like mad on afternoon coffee and snacks because since I’m now traveling alone, I feel like there’s more “me” time that is best spent reading in a cafe instead of aimlessly wandering.


  3. Sarah
    Mar 26, 2010 @ 01:32:16

    The first step towards emotional management is being aware of your emotions in your first place, and this is a great list to have. I did something similar to work on my binge-purge behaviours just after I left treatment, which used to be my way of managing emotions. Next step is to try some alternative strategies…like rationalising problems, talking them through with someone, doing something nice for yourself (bubbly bath for me hehe), distracting yourself for a while until the feelings pass (I often do some mundane tidying/washing up, easy activity to keep you busy). The more you practise better coping strategies, the less you will rely on food, and the better you will become at distinguishing between physical and emotional hunger……

    Oh well, that’s what worked for me anyway, since I haven’t binge-purged since January, so I must be doing something right 😉

    Sarah x


  4. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    Mar 26, 2010 @ 02:59:38

    i think we all confuse emotions, i.e. hunger with lonelinenss, fear with boredom, those are just arbitrary examples, just x with y, based on the person’s own stuff. This is such a big post and know that i am rootin’ for you sweetie 🙂


  5. theprocessofhealing
    Mar 26, 2010 @ 14:47:33

    Oh I do this girl, totally do. When I’m depressed, I eat. when I’m sad, I eat. Boys come and go.. but food is always there. You get the picture…
    Anyways, before eating ask yourself “Am I really, actually hungry?” If the answer is yes, then eat. If it’s no, then 1. drink a big glass of water and 2. ask yourself what you are REALLY feeling. Once you get to the bottom of it, write about it or do something to make yourself feel better. Like call a friend, go for a walk, pick up a book, etc.
    I know how hard it is girl!!!!
    Much love!


  6. Trackback: Running, Protein, And Fat! « Run. Write. Therapy. Life.

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