“The only thing I like better than talking about food is eating” – John Walters
I eat all the time and eating all the time means eating everywhere. I like eating in front of my fireplace and eating while watching tv. I like eating in front of the computer and eating while I’m at my desk working. It’s so easy to go grab something and go somewhere. I would mindlessly go to the fridge or pantry, grab something and walk away. Often times what I grabbed would be gone before I even made it to the new location. Being conscious of this was eye opening and filled up many pages in my journal as I tried to work through issues. I almost felt there was a void yet I didn’t know how to fill it. Taking away that instant gratification of food opened more wounds that I was not ready for.
As I stated I eat when I’m sad and since I suffer from depression I’m sad a lot. There are days when I have no idea why I’m sad and couldn’t tell you if you asked. I simply know I don’t feel the best and it’s like a melancholy cloud that hangs over me. If you suffer from depression you understands everything I’m saying. I often times want to be alone yet wish I wanted to be with other people. I want to decompress yet have no idea what is weighing me down.
Machon Note- I have suffered from diagnosed depression for over twenty years. In reality I have suffered for far longer than that. In the beginning I didn’t know what it was because often times in the African American community we do not talk about depression. I hit rock bottom and didn’t have a grasp on life. The truth is I didn’t want to live. I could not even make it through the day, I was not able to function. Food was and still is my coping mechanism for depression. Some people use drugs, alcohol, sex, or many other vices. While my vice was food and may seem harmless I will tell you one is not better or worse than the other. I do not think I am better than anyone else that suffers from any illness. With all that being said GO SEE A DOCTOR. You cannot self diagnose and you cannot self medicate. That’s what I was doing with food. After the ground fell from under my feet I went and sought help. I should have done it sooner, but I was lucky that I did it at all. Therapy and medication got me on the right path. That may not be your path. Find your path. Find a path. Do something. I advocate therapy and I advocate admitting that you have a problem. There is an entire profession out there to help you become a better version of yourself. I have not nor will I ever beat depression. I have simply learned how to manage it and realize when I need help. Call someone and get the help you need for whatever you are suffering with. Call them. Now back to out food lesson.
Eating for no reason in hiding was how I was dealing with my depression. When I started eating in the kitchen I had to answer some tough questions. I had to sit alone with myself not mindlessly eating but having the desire to go get food. 75% of the time I was not even hungry. When I made it back to where to my room or desk with no food I would just sit there. What was on tv was not as interesting so I would flip channels. The computer become boring so I would shut it down. Working was monotonous and I would get agitated. After I snapped at a coworker for something ridiculous I knew I had to figure this thing out. I began to journal all day. I would journal about when I went to get food. I would journal about what I ate and how I felt. Most of the time I would journal about not getting food. Not wanting to sit at the table and eat which meant I wasn’t really hungry. The journal revealed some huge aha moments. The biggest one; I just needed to do something with my hands.
If you read the above paragraph you are thinking “she was going off on people because she couldn’t eat food”. That is exactly what I was saying. Because I could not get what I wanted (food) I was lashing out at other people. I would get this feeling that I couldn’t explain and just want to be alone. It’s hard to describe the power that anything has over you until you are talking to someone who has also lost to that power. Here is an example. Every time my monthly cycle rolls around I want chocolate. It’s not just any old chocolate but it has to be Hersheys Nuggets with Almonds. I have no idea why and I’m sure if I dug deep into my psyche I could figure it out, but I haven’t done that. Usually about 1-2 days prior the craving is so serious I have to leave my house to go get Hersheys Nuggets with Almonds. Let me walk you through this.
I get dressed and hop in my car just to go get this one thing that I can’t live without. Now let me tell you I usually fight the craving for the first day and then it seems to get worse and worse. I try to find stuff in the house to eat and realize all these extra calories are not worth it. I might as well go get the damn chocolate. I usually start with house staples like chips, or some frozen candy my husband has stashed. I then move to the kids Little Debbie cakes or I bake something from scratch. This month I baked banana bread and after eating half a piece I realized this was not going to kill my chocolate craving. I need to point out this banana bread of some of the best stuff I have ever made, but I digress. My last effort to not eat actual chocolate was to drink hot chocolate because all chocolate is the same. Yea you know as well as I do that this is a lie. This did not work and I still craved the nuggets. Finally giving into the craving the next day I hopped in my car and drove to the store to get this thing that had been gripping my thoughts for days.
I wish I could tell you I just got the nuggets and kept on my way. I didn’t. I had to get some other stuff so I didn’t look like a fat ass who just went in the store for nuggets. I got some coffee and some other items that made the purchase look random. It was “oh I need coffee, creamer, and what do you know. Hersheys Nuggets with Almonds sounds nice”. Again all this is what runs through my head. No one was judging my basket. Correction I was judging myself.
If anything I’ve said sounds familiar stop beating yourself up. What I realized is that I don’t have willpower to fight cravings so I’m done trying. As soon as I want something I’m going to get it, but place a limit on it. I can’t eat the whole bag of fifty nuggets but maybe I will allow myself to have six per day. A serving is three but who the hell eats three. Also If I don’t see something, I forget it there. After I got the nuggets I placed them in a cabinet in the kitchen and like I knew I would I forgot all about them until the next month when I wanted nuggets. I realized where I was weak and came up with a plan.
I can’t beat cravings, but what I can do is manage them. I can realize exactly what it is and deal with it. I can eat my six nuggets in front of my family and keep it moving. I can leave the bag downstairs and not hide in my bed eating fifty nuggets while watching tv. FYI- this is not an advertisement for Hersheys Nuggets. This is simply my vice. If you haven’t figured yours out I want you to be patient, you will. Someone once told me my vice was not nuggets it was sugar. No, no its not. If it was sugar the Little Debbie cake or the banana bread would have done the trick. The chocolate stashed in our freezer would have done the trick. No my vice is pretty particular and once I stopped fighting it, it stopped winning. That’s what this journey has taught me. I need to control stuff before it controls me.
At the end of this week I did not lose a pound. I didn’t say I was perfect. Not only did I not lose a pound but I gained a pound. Yes it was the nuggets. I didn’t eat six, but I didn’t eat the whole bag. Probably half of the bag was gone to be honest. What I learned this week though was losing the pound was not the most important thing. Learning about myself was a much more valuable lesson.
If you know what your vice is send me a message. If you don’t know what your vice is begin to write down your cravings, and how you respond to them. Remember, this journey is a slow one. We have all the time we need to become mentally stronger while on this journey.