When I look back at events in my life, I can’t think of a single major crisis in which I did not use food and overeating to try to cope. My father’s sudden death kicked off an eating spree in which put on the 100 pounds that I’d recently lost and then some. Mom’s relapses and later her illness and death – same thing. I always turned to food and binge eating. Stress, grief, anxiety, anger, sadness — pick an emotion that might threaten to overwhelm me and keep me from functioning and I would eat-eat-eat-eat in order to cram them down into tight little boxes so that I could stay on track with handling the crisis.
That I am managing to stay on track right now during Pyxi’s illness is miraculous. It also takes effort, focus, and a willingness to fight for my abstinence and recovery. I’m not 100% perfect, but hot damn, I’m doing a really good job taking care of myself while I take care of my little girl dog.
Right now, ironically, among the big challenges in her illness is her weight loss. We’ve stopped the nausea and vomiting, but she is turning up her cute little nose at most foods. She needs carbs but all she’ll eat consistently is protein — cooked chicken, specifically. Forget the special formula of dog food for kidney disease patients. She took one sniff and turned away as if I’d offered her some foul preparation. She ate rice for a little while and then tired of it and acted like pasta was a new fave food. Now she’s over that too. She never quite went for smashed potatoes either.
Unlike her, if someone coaxed me to eat rice, pasta and potatoes for my own good, I’d chow down like a champ! Food has a strong, insidious, tempting call. I went to the grocery store, desperate to find a range of possible things I could try to tempt her to eat a little more. I thought of baby foods, mac and cheese, even whole wheat bread. As we all know, the check out lines are bordered by racks of two things – magazines and candy. While the clerk scanned my purchases, I caved and grabbed a small packet of mini-candies. I got out to the car, grabbed the packet out of the bag and ripped it open to cram a few little pieces into my mouth. Then my head caught up to my compulsive impulse and said, “Wait. Think about what you’re doing.” “Shut up,” I said to that voice. I worked out hard this morning. Some chocolate won’t hurt.” However, while I said that in my head, I also read the label. One package of little pieces of candy would add up to 310 calories! Yikes!
On top of that, the very act of eating compulsively, of grabbing and ingesting food that I didn’t plan to eat, acting out of stress or an other emotion, does more damage to me emotionally and mentally than the sugar and carbs do to my nutritional goals for the day.
Eating the rest of this candy is not going to help me and it won’t do a darned thing positive for Pyxi. She and I both need for me to be calm, as relaxed as possible, clear-headed and functioning. We don’t need me to trigger a binge-eating relapse.
I grabbed the candy package and crushed it in my hand, squeezing all the remaining individual bite-sized pieces into one messed-up ball. Then I started the car and drove home. After I parked and got out of my car, I took the candy package and threw it into the outside trash. That was a positive act for myself and for my recovery. Stopping myself from consuming all of the candy and then knowing not to tempt myself by bringing the rest of it into the house, showed me that I am stronger for today than my disease. This elevated me a great deal.
Inside, I tried out a few different foods, offering them to Pyxi. She wasn’t interested in the little sweet potato/rice puffs or the mac and cheese. She did eat half a slice of whole wheat bread. Desperate to get her to eat something more, I decided that if all she would consume was more poultry, at least it was better than her stopping at half a slice of bread. I spooned out some of my ground turkey leftovers from last night. That was much more to her liking. She ate several pieces before going back to her bed for another nap. I decided that I’ll try her with some more and a little more bread later on.
I then proceeded to eat my own, planned-for lunch, which I enjoyed. Not only did it taste good, but since I planned it out and ate on track, I didn’t have the negative emotions and thoughts that accompany my meals when I’m not on plan. One more time, I was dealing with the crisis using my program rather than using food.