Weighty Matters

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No Running to Food

on April 6, 2012

I just learned about the unexpected death of a young co-worker’s father.  Many of our long-term management team have known the man for many, many years and the news has rocked them too.

But my mind keeps returning to his daughter, who is in her mid-20s, around the age I was when my Dad died unexpectedly in 1983.  That was the single most devastating thing I’d ever experienced and it ripped me apart.  In my struggle to cope, I ate.  And ate.  And continued to eat.

In the couple of years before his death, I’d lost 100 pounds on a medically-supervised, highly restrictive, mostly-protein diet.  It sure as hell was a simple plan — 1 oz of protein in the morning, 3 oz of protein at lunch, 5 oz of protein at dinner with a cup of vegetables.  Six months before Dad died, I was the thinnest I’d been in my entire adult life.

After his death, I steadily gained back all 100 pounds and over the years continued to add more, in between bouts of weight loss.  What a roller coaster.

That was my m.o.  I ate to numb my feelings, to anesthetize my pain.  Food was my sedative.  The heck with limiting myself to comfort food.  ALL food comforted me.   The despair I felt about packing back on my pounds was a far distant second to the despair over losing my father.

I’ve been on a really even keel for the last four months.  Sure, I’ve experienced the occasionally upsetting situation, but with the help of my sleeved stomach and the work I’m doing on my head and emotions, I haven’t needed to run to food for numbing.  We had a saying (one of many) in OA that the feelings won’t kill me, but the food will.  I’m glad that I’m developing and practicing more effective, less unhealthy, coping mechanisms.

However, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if I was suddenly hit with something as devastating as my father’s death.  Even if I tried to stuff down the pain with food, I can’t physically handle the necessary volume.  Big pain needs a semi-truck’s worth of food to keep it from erupting and blowing me apart.

I believe that I need to be proactive right now and practice when small upsets occur.  If I get stressed, angry, annoyed or whatever over something in my life, I will stay conscious and remain in touch with the feelings.  I’m strong and capable.  I can handle the emotions without numbing myself to the feelings.  I will do it without food.  The practice will do me good, just in case I get hit with something much bigger.  Sure as all get out, running back to food is not an option!

5 responses to “No Running to Food

  1. londonmabel says:

    I’m sure all your little Affirmation Phrases will help too! Rewire the brain with good thoughts, so you’re in good emotional shape for any future sadnesses.

  2. Skye says:

    Calling someone is good. Hugging pets is good (I did that when I had my kitty and when she died it was hard to deal and I ate). Holding a friend’s hand is very good, I found after Mom died. Wish I could do that more.

    I think that thinking about this proactively is a wonderful gift you are giving yourself, telling yourself what is not acceptable and what is, and exploring other ways to comfort yourself and deal with emotions. Good for you! You are inspiring me to think about this too.

  3. Never stop learning! New experiences, new coping skills. Calling support is a great idea, Julie, as is finding other things to comfort you besides food. I would think that if I lived where you do, a walk by the water or a kayak ride if it was calm enough would be good. There is something profoundly soothing and calming about water.

  4. lunarmom says:

    What Robena said, and suggested.

    I’m learning new coping skills as well. One is to grab your phone instead of a snack. Texting a friend (or my husband) who understands the situation has already saved me several times.

  5. robenagrant says:

    Absolutely. This is the time to find something else that will nurture you. I always think instead of comfort food, how do I comfort myself. It could be a walk in nature, or a warm bath, or a massage. Even something as simple as a cup of tea.

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