The stress eating from last night woke up in the middle of night, bloated with gas pains. My pyjama bottoms felt like they were digging into my swollen belly. There was no way to get comfortable.
It would’ve been easy to blame it all on the food. After all, I did have a take-out burger, some fries and about six Halloween candy bars. Much less than I would’ve eaten of the past, but still more than my body needed at the time.
But the story begins way before the stress eating started…
It’s been a long couple of weeks. Heck it’s been a long year lol
If you read my last blog you’ll know that my child was in self-isolation because of classmate testing positive for Covid-19.
Being that I work from home, thankfully, I didn’t have as much a routine change as others would. But I still had to adjust to another person in the house all day with a different schedule than mine. I’m tired.
Then the washing machine died. Add laundromat to the list. My hubby is very handy and took it apart to fix it…only to get sick himself. So now he’s home all day and my laundry room/pantry is filled with a disassembled washer. I’m more tired – my sick husband isn’t able to do his share of the load right now.
Finally, yesterday afternoon, while on a Zoom meeting with a patient, the power went out. Sigh. Hotspot computer to phone, carry on. And now it’s dark at 5pm; we have no heat; no way to cook supper; AND I was supposed to attend a virtual conference at 5pm.
So I asked the boys what they wanted for dinner. I messaged the conferenced organizers and told them that I wouldn’t be attending. Then I drove into town to hit the drive-thru of their choice. We ate by flashlight at the kitchen table. Then we retreated to bed with a down duvet, Netflix and the Halloween candy.
By this point, I’m exhausted. My ability to pivot with the changes is diminishing quickly. My reserves are almost gone.
And then it happened
That’s when it happens isn’t it? That’s when old coping strategies re-emerge. In the moment they feel easy and right even if they’re not in our best interest.
In intuitive eating we talk about attunement. This is about being able to hear our bodies needs and responding to them in a timely manner.
I’m in need of a tune up. And it was the bloat that woke me from my sleep that finally got my attention.
This morning as I reflect on the last couple of weeks I can identify some of the warning signals. These are like the gas light or the oil light on the dash of the car. Warnings that I need to tend to something that I’m perfectly capable of doing. My dashboard lights include: mindless social media scrolling; struggling with my body image; not feeling my hunger cues; waking in the night and having a harder time falling back to sleep; feeling the siren call of the scale; overeating or eating foods that I know don’t feel good physically.
When I don’t notice these warnings then I get the full on Check Engine light. This also happens when I see them and choose not to respond to them. The “this is now serious” light. This could look like waking with gas pains and bloat; pain; swelling; extreme fatigue; difficulty concentrating; overwhelming overwhelm (vs the ‘normal’ overwhelm). In the past, binge eating fell into this category.
Again, I have the opportunity to look at what needs adjusting, do the tune up and carry on. If I choose not to, then I get the “this car ain’t safe to drive” notices from my body: losing it on my family; melting down when I can’t find my hairbrush; inability to make decisions or plan my next step; anxiety or even complete shutdown where I cannot answer the phone, get out of bed or put on clothes. In the past, my ED behaviours showed up here.
My reflection today revealed a few missing warning signals: difficult body image and the scale calling to me has been going on for a few weeks; the mindless social media scrolling started a few days ago; yesterday I didn’t feel hunger once and maybe even the day before; finishing off with the dinner and snack choices of last night.
In the past, I wouldn’t have looked at this way.
Food guilt and body shame would’ve driven the reflection instead of self-compassion. I would’ve decided that clearly Halloween candy isn’t safe in the house (not acknowledging the Halloween candy has been safe for two months now). That I need to get my shit together. That would’ve included a kitchen purge and meal plan that didn’t include take-out and some sort of exercise plan to go with.
What I know now is that the stress eating is the last part of the story. The stress eating is simply what finally got my attention. It’s not about the food and it never was. Instead, it’s about what led up to me not being attuned. By either not being able to see my needs or not responding to my needs in a timely fashion.
Diet culture and the current health and wellness trends would have me believe that all of this can be solved with the right plan or pill; that all I need is a commitment and will power and I’ll be good to go.
Thankfully I’ve chosen to stop buying what they’re selling. I’m choosing to look at what’s been in the way of my ability to listen to and respond to my body signals. It’s time to cull my list of responsibilities and expectations again. It’s time to Delegate, Delay and Delete again. I need less stress and pressure right now, not more imposed under the guise of ‘health’. I need more compassion and less judgement.
Until next time,
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