Monday, August 25, 2008

Food as Punishment

Yesterday was a good day for me. I based all my eating around locally grown, fresh produce that I picked up at the Farmer's Market. After my usual breakfast of chai tea, a Kashi Oat waffle with peanut butter and fresh blueberries, and iced white tea, I pretty much snacked on produce all day. I ate:

an ear of fresh corn with a tsp of butter
peaches, watermelon, blackberries
a bowl of crowder peas with onions and garlic (more on this later!)
a low fat string cheese
an ounce of roasted almonds
lots of iced white tea, and a bit of pomegranate juice

Dinner was an Egg Beater omelet with an ounce of low fat cheese, a double fiber english muffin, and some more watermelon. My total for the day was about 1500 calories. I drank plenty of water, but I didn't exercise.

I am down 2 pounds this morning, so that makes me feel better. I have a lot of bloat going on from the fair (and the Coke and bad eating earlier in the week). But no Coke yesterday and none today, so I am hopeful I can make a clean break now.

I was thinking more about how food can be used as punishment. Sometimes in the past, as I was emotionally upset and running to the McDonalds for comfort, I would get thoughts in my head like, "Stop! You're not even hungry. Why are you doing this? You don't really want to do this." But I would tell the voice of reason to shut up, and I would order my Big Mac meal and 6 chocolate chip cookies and then sit in the car eating them until I was sick. It really did start out as a mix of craving and emotional need for comfort, but ended up not being comforting at all. It ended up feeling like a punishment. I remember stuffing down cold fries and wondering if I was subconsciously trying to hurt myself. Why else would I keep on eating and eating when it no longer tasted good or felt good? I wonder if binge eating can be a form of self abuse, or maybe it is like cutting. My son knows girls at school who cut themselves "to feel alive" or "to stop the pain." I guess everyone has to develop ways of coping with stress and pain, but many of us pick ways that are pretty bad for us. I am trying to pay more attention to those feelings now, and not just stuff food down when I am not even enjoying it or hungry anymore. I love myself. I don't want to punish myself anymore. I deserve to be treated with respect and kindness, and that has to begin with me.

It's really emotional for me to remember some of the food behaviors that got me to 278 pounds. I used to feel alone or sad and I would go online and look for some food to cheer me up. I would go to the Godiva chocolates site and watch for clearance sales, and then buy a couple pounds of chocolate. I remember times when I would put the candy in my virtual "cart" and then feel like, "no, I don't want to do this, I will just eat it all and stay fat." So I would take it out of the cart. Then I would think, "I LOVE Godiva, I deserve it. It's on sale!" And I would put it back in the cart. I would sit there staring at the monitor, fighting with myself about whether or not to press "complete your purchase." Usually I just went on and clicked it, and then the chocolate would come and I would eat it all and feel like crap. I wasted so much money doing this. And not just Godiva. I would try to find gourmet cheeses, or candy from when I was a kid, or gourmet cookies... anything that seemed like I was treating myself to something special. I was trying to give myself gifts, or feel like I could have what I wanted. It was easier to buy gourmet cookies than it was to face that what I really wanted... love, peace, health, serenity... was outside of my reach or that I was not willing to work to make those things happen. It was easier to click a button and give myself chocolates or cheesecakes.

I still have the bad habit of perusing the Internet for gourmet food sales. I see cheesecakes online. I think, "wow, there's a $40 cheesecake on sale for $20... I deserve it. I want it." But I don't buy them anymore. Not only is it a complete and utter WASTE of money (and let me tell you, I cannot now and could not EVER afford to buy the crap I was buying), but it is detrimental to my health AND my self esteem. So I don't buy junk online. And I don't buy junk locally either, not like I used to. I used to go into a bakery and freaking LIE to the bakery person, saying, "Oh I am having a party, I need to decide what kind of cupcakes/cookies/pastries to purchase. So for now I will buy one of each and then when we find what we want, can I just call and order 40?" OMG. I cannot believe I did that. I was too ashamed to just go in and buy 10 different pastries so I pretended I was taking them home so we could sample them and decide what to get for a party!! But I would go home and eat every one myself. Ugh. I did the same thing in drive-thrus when I was ordering enormous amounts or food, or getting 3 different kinds of ice cream treats at Dairy Queen. (I would pretend I was on the phone, talking to someone. "What kind do you want? Reece's? Okay and what does John want?" in front of the order-person so they would not think I was buying all that food for just ME. Looking back it is ridiculous. But they don't call it an eating DISORDER for nothing...

Life is better now. I have struggled all summer, but I have not gone back to the old ways, and so far, even though I seem to be gaining and losing the same pounds over and over, at least I am not just GAINING. I have to look on the bright side and hope that I can stick with my new habits for good. This is a battle I simply cannot lose. It's just too important.


Roxie said...


You write the most amazing, honest and oh-my-god-I-can-so-relate blogs out in the internet. I just wanted you to know that I'm cheering for you.


ryry the adventurous said...

I totally used to do this... I'd get some really bad food (after a major struggle with myself) and then eat the first few bites in ecstacy, and then keep eating because I was hungry, and then by the end would be shoving it into my mouth because I was so angry at myself for eating it. Oh, the things I used to say to myself afterwards... I was so mean!

Every day I eat healthy is better than the best day I had eating unhealthy. I am sure the same goes for you too!

And for what its worth... internet food shopping is the devil. To me as well! Damn you Dale & Thomas popcorn!!!

Kate said...

"I deserve it" Has been a favorite mantra all my life when it comes to food. I've rationalized that food rewards are cheaper than other rewards... and after all I DESERVE a reward for all the little things I do that go unnoticed in life.

But now I'm trying to change my mantra from "I deserve it" to "I deserve better" said...

Were we separated at birth?

Having that awareness and changing those behaviors is hard. I'm there with ya.

spunkysuzi said...

I can remember so many eating binges that happened when i was alone (most of the time purposely) So that is the thing i'm trying to stop. I only eat in the open when others can "see" what i'm eating. It definitely cuts down on what i eat ;)
Thank goodness i didn't know about being able to order chocolate on internet.

new*me said...

I can see you are coming back around to the light Lyn ;) I love Kashi products too...I get the cereals and the TLC bars, and whole grain crackers.

Yeah on the 2 lbs ;) 70 lbs lost is just around the corner!

Hide those cookies said...

I agree with Roxie. Your honesty is incredible and so appreciated. You have a way of describing an inner dialogue that is so deeply woven into my reality that it is amazing. Thank you for being so giving of yourself!

elife said...

Ah yes, the phoning of a friend option at the ice cream store. Once I was doing that ("okay you want it with oreos too?") and I GOT A PHONE CALL. Busted.

briy said...

I've never really thought of it this way, but you're right. I only ever really wanted the first few bites of whatever I was bingeing on, but then I forced myself to finish it, because I'd spent the money, and I'd said I wanted it... so in the end what was meant to be a reward turned out to be a punishment, and I felt bad about it.

Thanks for this! Your honesty is wonderful, because we know we're not alone. :)

cindy said...

"I was trying to give myself gifts, or feel like I could have what I wanted. It was easier to buy gourmet cookies than it was to face that what I really wanted... love, peace, health, serenity..."

YOU SAID IT SISTER! I can definetely relate. These words are comforting to me now (thanks so much for writing) as I go back to school. I don't want to feel lonley, but knowing there are others out there want to feel loved and accepted is comforting. Lyn, you are a rock star! Your entries are...VALUABLE! I hope you have a backup database or something in case blogger messes up. You could turn this into a book or something. Very good. And seriously AWESOME on NOT binging. As someone else said, one healthy or at least normal and a little unhealthy day of eating is WAY better than any binging day.

MizFit said...

such such such a powerful post.
Im sure youve read confessions of a carb queen? I reread that this weekend and her writing has NOTHING ON YOU!


Lyn said...

Oh thanks Miz! No, I havent read it. I have heard of it though.

I havent read any of the weight loss memiors that have come out, but maybe I should. I havent because I want my writing to be mine alone and I wonder if I start reading someone else, I might start writing because of what they wrote, or something. Odd I know. I will read them sometime.

When I write I just sit down and type whatever comes into my head. It just comes out how it comes, and I rarely edit ANYTHING except spelling or grammar. I just type and post and don't think too much about it. Because I want my posts to be like that... raw, honest, a window into my mind and soul.

Dinah Soar said...

Have you read the book When Food is Love by Geneen Roth? She talks about how how food became the "love" in her life she missed growing up. Also I just finished reading her column for Sept. 2008 in Good Housekeeping--she says the less you like food, the more likely it is that you'll overeat...that we can't really stop emotional eating until we really love food. It sounds like a paradox...and I haven't really processed her point yet..but it is interesting--and it sounds similar to what you mentioned about using all that food as can read that column here:

And may be gaining/losing...but you are not losing any ground...think of it as're in the same spot but your not sinking and you won't as long as it's not wasted's part of the process. You will get to your goal.

Name: Lynise said...

I really feel I need to comment and say thank you so much for writing so honestly. I am sure that many of us who battle with our weight have experiences some of the exact same things you write about but we are often to ashamed to be honest and real this side of ourselves to anyone.

Your blog is so real and I can certainly relate to the 'mind battles' between eating healthy or pigging out on foods we don't need.

I always thought my battle was just a lack of will power to stick to a diet 'long term', I realise now that it goes much deeper then that for me as I do actually have an addiction to food, (I guess everyone does as we need it to live) but my addiction has brought me to a weight I am not at all happy with because I choose foods that were high in fat instead of healthier options. I am slowly learning that I have to listen to if I am feeding the hunger or feeding the addictionl.

Deb said...

I will echo what others have said in thanking you for your honesty. I have done the things you have done. Still do sometimes. When I was driving back home from my Grandma's the other week I stopped at Sonic and got 2 Sonic blasts, one with Oreo and one with something else I can't even remember now. The carhop came out and asked if the other one was for my dog who was in the car with me. I just said, "No, I am taking these home."

As I am learning, alot of people have this behavior. And it makes me the people in the stores and drivethroughs by our ruse? Or are enough overweight people doing the same thing that they just think to themselves, "Yeah right."

Pandora said...


Thank you for your honesty...acknowledging all of our secrets. (I never thought of faking the phone call, I would just comment that "everyone likes something different." I rotated stores so that the ladies at the local chocolate shop wouldn't know how often I was buying mint meltaways or chocolate covered almonds. (Though I would always have them giftwrapped so that they would think I was buying them for someone else.)

I absolutely punished myself by forcing myself to "finish" whatever it was until I felt sick and miserable.

You tell "our" darkest secrets...and let us laugh wryly and move it. (And you do it with such grace and style that the thorns are withdrawn.)

Thank you


Sheri said...

Way to go Lyn! It's great you overcame this hurdle. I will say that too one day, but when it rains it pours, and it's pouring pretty hard here - figuritively speaking of coures.

Karyn said...

You ARE going to win this battle, Lyn....I know it!

~Faith~ said...

Lyn, I read a ton of your blog yesterday and last night and I felt like I was reading "my story" in some of your posts. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with the rest of the blogging world. You have inspired me to start blogging my own weight loss adventure and writing down feelings that I am experiencing. Good luck in your journey, I'm in your cheering section!

working at it said...

I agree with everyone here. I just found your blog and it speaks to me. Only thing is I never would have had the patience to order the food online. When I wanted it...I wanted it NOW.

Best of luck to you and thank you for your story. I look forward to reading more and learning more.