I think that a surprisingly small number of people would answer this question with “because we are hungry” or “because food sustains us”. For a lot of people, food is associated with certain emotions or situations. I am one of those people; my immediate response to unpleasant emotions is to eat. Bored? Food. Sad? Food. Angry? Food. I’m sure you know what I mean. I suppose here when I say “eat” I mean “overeat” or “comfort eat”.
It’s taken me two full days to get beyond that opening paragraph. I have done a lot of reading and a lot of reflection recently. I have known for a while that I use food as a way of comforting myself, but I have never really considered it too far. Most literature offers advice on things to distract you from food when the cravings strike. Go for a walk, take a bath, paint your nails, read a book etc. This is all well and good for the odd craving, but I have been coming to terms with the fact that whilst that can sometimes work for me, it is often only a displacement activity. No matter what activity I choose, I am not dealing with my feelings – only avoiding them.
Additionally, there is a great deal of difference between “craving a chocolate bar” and “craving a chocolate bar, then another, and another, and maybe one more for luck”. Similarly, there is a difference between savouring the chocolate bar (or whatever) you have been craving, and barely tasting it because you’re so desperate for it. This isn’t something I find myself doing very often anymore, but it still does sometimes happen. It has taken a lot for me to admit this to you all, and my next step is going to be to discuss it with my doctor. I am already seeing him on a regular basis for help with depression, and he has asked me to think about whether I would like to be referred to a psychologist. I think the answer to this is “yes”. It is time to face up to my feelings and stop cushioning them with food and fat. I cannot make it all the way through my journey without trying this.
My main problem is fear. I’m scared of many many things, but my biggest fear is failure and letting people down. I need to work on this and stop being afraid of experiencing other emotions too. I know it is going to be difficult, but this is the first step. Here’s to a healthy future – emotionally as well as physically.
*takes a deep breath before clicking the publish button*