Monday, February 15, 2010

Learning to Feed Myself

There's a lot to be learned during 10 days in a house by yourself. In my case, there was also a lot to be eaten. It turns out that I eat when I'm feeling lonely. I also eat when I'm bored, tired, disappointed and, sometimes, hungry.

During the first twenty-four hours of feeling lonely and sorry for myself because my boyfriend was snowed-in across town, I ate just about everything I could get my hands on. I baked bread, I got the slow cooker working, and then I munched on everything that wasn't nailed down. I also took the opportunity to spend time doing the things I love but don't often have much time for.

About 36 hours into my home-bound weekend, I started to feel a bit more settled in this state of alone-ness and a little less lonely. I was actually enjoying myself. And immediately, my appetite decreased. For the majority of the following five days, I was able to eat when I was hungry, stop when I was satisfied, and avoid serious munch-attacks.

But what changed? Why was I able to turn off the binge and turn on the self-control?

First, I found myself submersed in things I loved: writing, reading, yoga, even shoveling. I wasn't bored. I wasn't mindlessly eating in front of the TV. I spent much of each day "in the zone", present and focused on whatever I was doing. Even the dishes and laundry didn't seem so bad.

Second, I recognized that just because I was physically alone didn't mean I had to be lonely. It wasn't quite the same as having someone in the room with me, but I made phone calls, visited blogs, sent emails and spent time chatting on Facebook and Twitter. I cuddled with my cat. I journaled.

I found the things that fed my spirit, my mind, and my body and I lived off of them. Instead of eating every half hour out of boredom or frustration, I vented my feelings through writing or a quick Tweet and then went about my business doing something I enjoyed. I met my emotional needs, indulged my creativity, exercised in ways that were appealing and ate when I was hungry.

Don't get me wrong, I still did some emotional eating now and then. Every day wasn't binge-free. But thankfully, my learning out-paced my eating and there is still food left in the pantry.


Kayris said...

What day is it? I've lost track. And my kids don't have school again tomorrow. AGAIN. Forget "going insane." I'm already there.

Anyway, without access to the gym, I find myself not just eating, but eating all manner of crap food. I can feel my fat cells expanding exponentially...

Sping? Please?

Mel said...

My week started the exact same way with eating anything and everything in the house. By mid week though I started feeling more settled and my appetite seemed to dissolve also. Although it could be that is when I decided that I needed to get something done around the house during the impromptu vacation so busy hands can't reach for food. I agree that it was nice to be able to connect with people on Facebook, blogs, and twitter. I enjoyed the break! Have a great week. Are you going back to work tomorrow?

Ami said...

Kayris - Seriously...the only reason I know the day is because I had to head back to work today. I was grateful for the shoveling (and yoga) because it was the only exercise I was getting.

Mel - Yes I'm back at work, although it's snowing right we'll see what happens with that.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Remind me never to get stranded with you...I'd have to sit on you to get some grub! Seriously though, congrats on overcoming. Hope spring arrives soon!

Tre ~ (Tresha Thorsen) said...

Thanks for sharing from the heart Ami...doing anything mindlessly is so vital to be alert to. It sounds so simple when you blog about a full 10 day span. But you are so onto such an invaluable lesson....cultivating that stillness when we are on on happy to find your blog and grateful too for your tweets:)

Unknown said...


I can really relate to this post. I am an emotional eater. I also think I mis-read my body's signals, i.e. boredom and thirst = hunger. I also eat when I'm lonely. Food is love. Only it's not.

My hubs is leaving town Saturday for 5 days. I might need to call you a bunch!

Kerri O said...

I struggle with this too. I do much better when I am out and about, but being a stay at home mom, that's not very often!

Ami said...

Angie - Nah! I love to cook for and feed other people. It probably would have helped to be stranded with someone! :)

Tresha - Thanks for commenting. Mindfulness really is key to every area of our lives, isn't it? I'm working on that, but it's not easy.

Erin - I think we get into habits of using food for other reasons (or mixing signals) and then it's hard to separate them out again. Feel free to call me any time!

Kat - I do better when I'm out, too. That's why dealing with the call of the refrigerator during that 10 days at home was such a big deal.

Thanks for the comments, everyone. It's so good to know I'm not alone in this!

Mary said...

Thank you! I needed to read this now. I'm working on The Abs Diet right now and trying to be mindful of what I put in my mouth. Good for you, Ami!

The Inside Skinny Girl said...

For the past few months while I was essentially house-bound, trying to finish a huge ghostwriting project for a client, I found myself eating huge chocolate bars and lots of bread (not even home-made) instead of stopping the "creative flow" to make myself something reasonably healthy to eat. I knew it wasn't good for me but I simply couldn't or wouldn't put the energy into anything other than the book, especially the past 2-3 weeks during the "home stretch". Now that I have finished the book (yay!) I have spent the past few days de-toxing from the chocolate; it was rough but I know after the third day, I always feel much better. So now my next "project" is quietly taking off some of the weight I've put on after my writing (and eating) "binge".

Someday, I may get around to learning about the value of "Moderation" when it comes to food. Hopefully before I die.

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