Monday, March 22, 2010

Void, Refilled

Yesterday, I wrote a little about how I seem to have a lot more "free time" in my brain now that I am not obsessing about food and eating and bingeing/not bingeing. Eating low carb/low sugar has seemingly given me an ability to not only withstand cravings more easily, but to not *have* cravings much at all. I'd experienced this before when I was on the South Beach Diet, but I sabotaged myself by trying to find every little way to twist the diet into something it wasn't meant to be while still technically being "on plan." Like when I'd take a sugar free fudgesicle and smear it with peanut butter and dark chocolate and eat it like a Dove bar. It fed my cravings. It made me nuts. It wasn't *quite* strict enough if I let myself have the stuff other people on South Beach were having. And it turned into eating Blizzards and *real* Dove bars and regaining all 40 pounds I had lost. But now, it seems I have such little leeway for eating crap that I am not having that issue. I read the Medifast message boards; I see people making frosting out of shake powder and cakes out of hot cocoa for their "fix". I see recipes for making "fudge" out of shake mix and the allowed tablespoon of cream cheese and some oil (a healthy fat) and all the possibly allowed condiments. "It's just like eating candy!" they say. Yeah, I know it is. And while it IS, technically, "on plan," I am just not going down that road again. I can have a Medifast brownie or shake and not feed my addiction. They do not taste like REAL brownies and shakes, they are not fantastically delicious, and that is the whole point, to me. They are just food. Pleasant, but not addicting. When I start frosting my brownies and making fudge, you know I have both feet on the slippery slope and am trying to recreate my old life, and it won't be long before I am eating the real thing again.

Anyway, because I feel so detached from food right now, it seems I have all this free time in my head... and in fact, in my real life. The hour I spent debating and convincing myself to eat or not eat Easter candy is now a vacant hour. I can mop, I can do things with my kids. I can think. But apparently I was spending *hours* per day on my food issues because there is now *so much* spare mental time that it is kind of uncomfortable. When I was off-plan, I was always shopping, baking, looking up recipes, buying junk, eating, eating, and eating. And regretting, and bemoaning, and wishing. When I was on-plan, I was always thinking, planning, prepping what to eat for every meal and snack, fighting urges, wondering when I'd break down and binge, calming the inner brat who wanted a bunch of junk, trying to figure out what I could do each day to speed up the weight loss. It took up a LOT of time. The first week on Medifast, I filled a lot of that time with excitement about the new plan, doing food reviews, taking pictures of my food, and reading message boards. The second week, it started to become old hat. And this week, I found myself often feeling like there was a huge empty space in my head... a gaping void that used to be allocated for Food Thoughts. And now I have to think about food *so little* that it was just this vast, empty space. And I wondered what to think about and do. I honestly had NO clue how much mental energy my food thoughts were taking up.

Uncomfortable thoughts started to trickle into that space. Thoughts about things I'd been trying to forget or avoid. And last night, the floodgates opened and emotions gushed out and flooded the entire area in my brain once devoted to food. I felt, I cried, I actually *thought about* painful things for more than one second before turning to brownie batter to make them go away. I sat in bed and *felt the feelings* and thought things through and then I GOT OUT OF BED and dealt with some things that probably should have been dealt with years ago. I was up late. But I feel like an *enormous* burden has begun to be lifted.

I don't know if I would ever have found the "time", strength, and clarity to mentally deal with these issues or even acknowledge them had I continued obsessing over food.

I think this is the very beginning of understanding the true why's of my past food behaviors. I am in awe. I never thought I'd get to this point. It's a true breakthrough for me.

What's buried under *your* drive to eat? What are you afraid of feeling?

30 comments:

AGirlWorthLosing said...

Good question with a scary answer. I am in therapy right now trying to figure it all out.

Bonita Gordita said...

Hmm. Very interesting. I've noticed this myself, the food obsession. Mine is mostly anxiety-driven, emotions. Was sitting down to write an entry, but found myself surfing--not for food though. :) Glad I checked in.

I don't really know if there's something else under there. What you are saying sounds very similar to addiction though. Remove the "drug" and you're left to face what you've been using the drug to mask it with.

Keep truckin' girl.

Splurgie said...

What a powerful post. You always hear about numbing your emotions with food. But if you don't numb them, they surface and then you have to deal with that. You described that process so articulately.

I agree with you that all the effort to take a food to substitute for another food (shake mix to create fudge) gets you too close to the "slippery slope." Not much different from diet soda that creates the taste for sweet that will always want to be satisfied.

Breeze said...

For me it was exactly the same. Keeping my sugar intake below 15 g has resulted in weight loss and zero cravings...I'm finding...there is nothing underneath emotionally but that might be because I recently found my passion and began my career as a writer, published my first book and the second, a novel is due out in August...so perhaps there was fear of doing the thing I loved and failing that was lurking in there!

I don't feel remotely deprived...do you?

Lyn said...

Breeze~

No. I don't feel deprived. I hardly think about food at all. When I do see or smell something that I used to love, I briefly *want* it but it passes quickly. Part of me thinks, "but I like to binge" but I will just deal with that insanity as time goes on...

Rebekah said...

((hugs)) There is a lot I have been avoiding thinking about. Actually when I was younger and very badly EDNOS I remember making a diary entry about how wonderful it would be like to not spend every waking moment thinking about food, calories, exercise, and self loathing. I have to say maybe I am just still distracted the "newness" of medifast, but I am spending this time reading, talking to people, thinking about my sisters and the future and planning and such.

There are def. a lot of negative things I have been avoiding. My husband and I got in a BIG fight the other day, the 2nd biggest fight we have been in since we got married and right away I felt the craving in my mouth, I wanted to shut the uncomfortableness of the situation out with food, we don't fight. It was sad but also good that I 100% recognized this "craving" and let it pass. I also spent some time thinking about the fight and then (poor guy) woke him up at 330 to talk about it. Usually when we have tiffs or arguments we just stop communication. There was soo much assuming and miss communication I was amazing and shocked, so I guess it could not have come at a better time :)
Be well!

Jill said...

Lyn, have you given any thought to whether you'll continue with Medifast after this first month? It sounds like you could do a huge amount of "spring cleaning" with another month.

It's great that you're realizing that even if food isn't as tasty as possible, it is still sufficient to feed your body.

Thrice Blessed said...

I've been examining the "why's" of my eating too. I did a post on it yesterday, http://thriceblessed-lessofme.blogspot.com/2010/03/answering-jacks-questions.html
You did a great job of putting into words the process of the emotions surfacing, and of how food kept you distracted from them before.

Lyn said...

Jill~

yes. Last week I decided to do another month. I plan to reassess each month to decide whether to continue another month or not. So far I have seen such progress in myself and I can't find any reason not to continue. Medifast has said they will send me their foods for as long as I wish to continue the diet... thankfully!

Anonymous said...

I am on a different ketogenic diet but I am experiencing the same thing.

I used food as a drug since I lost control of my weight and food intake. Once I started to face my issues, they became more tolerable and less scary. I haven't felt the need to numb myself to "not feel".

I also have no cravings for carbs now. Unheard of in my body for such a long time. 30 pounds down, 30 to go for me.


Hope you can stick the program through to your goal.

Leslie said...

Wow - powerful post, Lyn. I wrote about a similar occurrence the other day, when someone else actually speculated that I was working my food program because I was so emotonal and "on the surface" with tears. Here's the url if you're interested. http://willswimagain.blogspot.com/2010/03/modified-me-and-award.html#comments

Hearing of the discomfort of recognizing the void and having painful thoughts trickle in reminds me of how, with addiction, our "disease" is always waiting for us in the next room doing pushups to stay strong for when we hit a weak place. You hit that place and allowed yourself to stay there. Very difficult. Huge insight here, Lyn.

Anonymous said...

I'm avoiding loneliness, boredom, feeling like I have no goals, anger at the obstacles that prevented me from reaching them. I also notice the freedom feeling, not due to carbs because a low-fat diet can do it too. Any easy rule that tells me "not an option" about all the food around me. I liked someone talking about food like clothing fashion. I have a set of clothes I like and wear often and replace when they wear out. Why can't I be like that with food?

Anonymous said...

Hi, May I ask if you work outside the home? If so, what is your field of expertise?
thank you!

Lyn said...

Anonymous~

I stopped working outside the home when I was about 5 months pregnant with my daughter, who is now 4. I hope to continue being a SAHM until she is in school full-time! My true area of expertise is being Mommy to my five kids! (But I have a degree in a scientific field).

401sue said...

I'm not sure what is buried or how to figure it out?!?! Please advise

Winner at a Losing Game said...

Lyn,
Good work. I hope you stay with it. It seems like you are starting to touch on why you have the struggle that you do. I have been having some of those same thoughts myself. When will I get to the bottom of this?

Debbie said...

You know it scares me to think about it. I hope I can handle it when I get to my goal weight and find out. I still think about food a lot now. This was one hell of post though. Made me stop and think.

Anonymous said...

When you started MediFast it seemed unwise. But how you described it, how you've been implementing it makes it appear much more valuable that I'd thought.

But this insight, and the powerful use you've made of it, is an unanticipated and VERY worthy outcome. It's the best example I've seen of 'making the best of a difficult circumstance'.
You are awesome, and a wonderful inspiration!
Marie

Anonymous said...

I've had this overeating/overweight problem "all figured out" several times. LOL. I can honestly say now it doesn't matter what is the thing I'm afraid of because the thing always changes. It changes because my mind creates the objects of my fear. I am just as afraid of oblivion (death and feeling nothing ever again) as I am of feeling too much (pain/loss). I cannot escape seeing the world through the lenses that are me. I create the struggle, I create the illusion of control. I created the struggle associated with food and I created the illusion of control (power). It was all a lovely fantasy of having power, when, truthfully, I have no ultimate power over existence. It can all end in the blink of an eye.

I have no other answers. Life is hard and wonderful and painful and awful and beautiful. Love makes it bearable. Then we are gone.

M Pax said...

Sounds like you had a great epiphany. I hope you continue down this road of success.

-J.Darling said...

I completely agree. For me, it's largely family issues, but I find I reach for the junk when I'm "afraid" of a situation BECOMING uncomfortable - rather than dealing with things as they came. I can be such a worry wart!

When I found that "spare time" in my brain, I learned to partition it. I'd spend some of it w/ some soft music, and my journal, praying, meditating, writing, crying, feeling whatever I needed to. And then I'd shift the mood, put on different music, or turn on a movie, or get out of the house and just browse a favorite store. AND I'd spend some time with a good book. The rule of thirds! All that time you spent tearing YOU down, you can now spend nurturing you and building yourself up!

-J.Darling said...

PS - you brought up a great point. I'm completely against making everything you eat in any dietary plan taste like a "dessert". I believe it feeds a dangerous habit. When you get off the plan, what are you gonna crave? Lean meats and salad? Nope. DESSERT! And you'll be right back to where you're at!

Blossom said...

My biggest fear is I'll lose all the weight and still end up alone. Sad, I know.

VickyDelgada said...

I found I felt so lonely and that's why I over ate. Then I started my own blog (part diet/fitness, part fashion and fun stuff) just to keep my time since I live alone away from my family...

Diana B said...

Lyn, You are one very intelligent lady. Some of your posts just scream, "publish me" because they are written with such clarity and are so enlightening. This is one of them.

As a side note, your progress with Medifast is amazing.

screwdestiny said...

Well, not occupying your thoughts with food is a very good thing. It's good to feel emotions even if they're not happy ones.

Anonymous said...

That's a really good feeling Lyn - when you are not constantly thinking "What can I eat?"
It doesn't happen to me often but to some degree I have conquered some of my cravings.

I write a lot (just for me) and explore my moods and feelings in my writing...so I am not sure there is a load of angst which has built up inside me which drives me to food. I think, as you said, I allow myself to THINK about it..

I think something like Medifast might work for me...not that we have it in the UK...because I have worked out that my bigggest problem is rebellion. It's a bit like the shampoo advertisements. "I am going to eat that ice cream...all of it..because I DESERVE IT. I am worth it."

It's weird how we mess ourselves up. I rarely think "I am NOT going to eat that ice cream because I am worth more and my healthier, lighter body will appreciate my abstinence"

I just like the taste of sweet foods, easy to make foods..like pizza... and quite a lot of deep fried foods. I avoid them but I am not sure that I have quelled the little monster inside of me screaming to dive in! I can't remember when I last fried anything..it was YEARS ago...but that monster just won't die!

Fixing the obsession with food has to be the way forward. We have to 'habitually' not have it...day after day after day...We have to walk away from it. When we do that frequently it has less power over us...because our taste buds change and begin to appreciate different flavours and textures, perhaps? Thanks once again for making me think...

DBDee

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem is that there are so many rituals around eating. Today is one of them, the annual free ben and jerry's day. I've usually gone with friends, but today I'd go alone. It still reminds me of all the other times I've gone, like pearls in a necklace, so it's difficult to cut it off. I do not need ice cream today, but I love the feeling of it, everyone trying a new flavor, trading tastes... This is just once a year, but I feel like that about so much food. Food is nourishing but it's also social and sensory.

Lyn said...

401sue~

It's taken me over 2.5 years to get to this point, and I am just touching the tip of the iceberg.

My advice? Don't give up. That is the single most important thing I have learned on this journey. Try. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Never give up. Try and try NEW THINGS until you find what works for you and tweak it.

Meditiation, mindful living, feeling your feelings, spending time thinking and writing about what is bothering you all help, too.

Best wishes.

staceykingman said...

Not answering the question at the moment, but nodding my head over and over at how well you have articulated the random fleeting thoughts I've been chasing...