31 July 2012

The problem of overeating and comfort eating

Anyone who has had trouble with their weight will know exactly what I'm going through right now just from reading the title: Overeating and comfort eating.

Overeating, simply put, is to not stop eating when you know you should. I used to do this a lot. A lot. I would not stop because there was still food on my plate, or because I thought it was a waste to throw food away, or because I was convinced I should, but mostly because I thought I had deserved it (comfort eating). Eating for comfort could be seen as a disorder, and could be fuelled by emotional issues, stress or depression.

Before, I used to overeat because it made me feel better, even though afterwards it would make me feel worse. I know I used to comfort eat a lot when I felt miserable because I thought I deserved a treat to make me feel better. This type of overeating is often caused by emotional discomfort or depression, and in my case (and I think this is the case for a lot of people in this situation), I often got stuck in a loop: I'd feel terrible about  myself, eat for comfort, and then feel bad again because I just stuffed my face. Other moments, and these may even have been worse, I would stop myself from eating something because I knew I should not, succeed in convincing myself, and then reward myself for my great resolve... by eating that same thing I was not going to eat.

But I also used to overeat because I thought it was just part of my routine: I would sit down behind the pc to game (I play World of Warcraft) and I would grab a bag of sweets or crisps because I felt like that was part of it. I would have a bag or bowl nearby and every time there was a quiet moment in-game (during a raid after a wipe, or after a boss kill, or while flying from one spot to the other...), I'd reach for a treat without even noticing, emptying a bag in record-time just because I was on flight points a lot or because we were wiping a lot during progression raids.

This last week I have been stuck in a similar loop again and it is bugging the hell out of me. Even though I know I should not eat that one bad thing, I seem to have lost all self-control and even found myself thinking in old patterns again where I would reward myself with food. I polished off an entire bag of crisps in two evenings. I emptied a bag of almonds in one. I ate sweets for the first time in weeks. Last night after dinner, I went to put my plate in the kitchen and ate leftover pasta sauce straight from the pan. Even though I haven't touched it all week, I know there is a bar of chocolate in the cupboard with my name on it and even though the fact that it's been in there for a week and is still untouched is a good sign, I get distracted and cranky just thinking about it. And I know this may not sound terrible, but it is making me feel awful! These are old habits, bad old habits, and I have been trying so very hard these past five weeks to kick those habits and I thought I was succeeding, but I let my guard down for one week and I end up doing those exact same things all over again.

The lack of restraint has been showing in my weight, but it's not as bad as I originally thought. I have been bouncing like a kangaroo on a skippy ball all week (those with an imagination like mine, enjoy that image in your head), but I am still down 1.3 kilo from last week, currently weighing 104 kg, meaning I'm 8,5 kg down from my starting weight. My weight loss schedule has not been harmed. But I'm doing this to be happy and feel better about myself, so despite the apparent lack of impact on my weight, I'm really not happy with this situation.

The stupid thing is, I know where it comes from. I start a new job tomorrow. I'm unbelievably nervous. This is a job that I have no actual education or training in, that I only have amateur experience in, that I applied for based on the confidence others have in my ability to do this job. What if I fuck it up? I know that it's not a big deal should it happen, but I don't handle rejections and failure very well... (I am also a very bad loser at games. I once tore a pack of cards in two after losing a game of Mau Mau. This may be related...) Last week, and this week, I started receiving the necessary equipment and logins and passwords needed to do this job (I will be working from home) and there is now a phone staring at me from the corner of my eye, and software popping up and blinking with new messages. I am pretty damned nervous for tomorrow.

 So despite knowing the source of my discomfort and cause of my uncontrollable impulse to eat, I am having some real trouble stopping myself from eating... But I have come up with a new strategy. I am going to try and distract my mind with the Olympic Games and some crochet and see if this brings any good results next week. Hopefully I'll still have that chocolate bar, and a nice, sturdy crochet basket to keep it in!

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