Sunday, June 2, 2013

Living Through Food

Yesterday as I was out running errands with my daughter, I realized something. As I was driving, I started to think about the way I used to live life *through* food. I experienced it via eating.

This is a little different from the way I have viewed it in the past. I have always thought, and still think to some extent, that those who binge, binge to shove down the feelings. We use food as a drug. That's nothing profound; it's a commonly talked-about topic on weight loss blogs. I always saw my binge eating as a sign that something else was wrong... something I did not want to address or acknowledge or feel. Upset about the way someone is treating you? Start to think about it and feel anxious and... hey! Look, a cupcake! Nom nom. Eat the cupcake and the anxiety is gone... poof. But then within minutes, it returns... along with the guilt of eating the cupcake. What to do? Eat more cupcakes! Run to the store and buy hot dogs and Cheetos and pizza and Coke. Throw a few candy bars and a pint of ice cream into the cart. Go home and eat it all. That little binge fest kills about 2 hours... and the obsession with the binge erases thoughts about the thing that was upsetting you. You get so consumed with shopping and wanting and eating and regretting that you have no room for anxiety about the way someone was treating you. So, in that sense, it's like a drug. Sad? Eat. Swallow the hurt, numb the pain.

But really, I was not *in a binge* every hour of every day. In fact I was not even binge eating on a daily basis, even at my top weight of 278 pounds. I didn't have time to binge daily. I did overeat, though, and the overeating was a different story. It was not eating to numb emotions. It was eating to *feel*... to live. Even when I was happy and nothing was really bothering me, I'd overeat because, well, isn't life pretty and happy with a well-made BLT sandwich? I'd eat when I was not hungry because, hey, there is pleasure and a feeling of indulgence and satisfaction in enjoying a brownie sundae. When I was bored, I entertained myself with potato chips and dip. When I was tired, I had a nice big mocha latte. When I wanted to feel happy, I'd go buy one of every kind of cookie Subway makes and pretend they were for the kids. Ohhh, the delight in all those cookies just for me! Every human emotion and experience, I could have with food. Who needs people? Don't have a husband? Have a bundt cake! Don't have any friends to hang out with? Settle in with a bag of Oreos and watch TV! Having a bored, lazy day? Perk it up with a Big Mac meal! Yearning for a new experience? Hit that new hot dog restaurant and get all kinds of crazy toppings on your hot dog!

I was living through food. Instead of seeking out people and experiences and the things a human being needs for a rich life, I was getting *all of that* through my eating. And it was safe, too! A cheese steak will never break up with you and leave you all alone. Your donuts won't hurt your feelings. You can count on a good milkshake to brighten your day.

But the sad thing, aside from the obvious health consequences, is that all those moments with food squeezed out moments of real living. I missed out on a *lot* because I was wasting my time eating excessive junk. I did not truly figure this out until I lost a *lot* of weight... when I was around the 180's back in fall of 2010. I vividly remember when swinging with my child replaced eating as one of the richest pleasures of my life. I remember when I began living through my body, my environment, my family and friends became the norm and I no longer turned to food for all my needs and experiences. It is such a blessing to have had that change in my life.

I never want to go back to living through food. If you are in that place, please know that life is *so much better* when food is FOOD and not a vehicle for experiencing life. Trust me on this. Take the focus off the food and then you will be free to look around and embrace what you have been missing.


romadiet said...

Hey, I feel you *point at username*

I think I have the equal ratio of binge eating and 'just for the heck of it' eating. I used to eat ice creams whenever Im stressed--Im glad I dont crave anymore.

Im impressed that you share your experience openly, Im trying to, too. Its hard and embarrasing, but I guess I hafta be transparent so I can be more comfy with my own skin *if that makes sense at all*

Anyway, you can do it! Lets be healthy together!!!

timothy said...

I know it's awful and I soooo used to do 80 pounds ago, I do on occasion overeat but now it's because i'm actually enjoying the food not drowning the feelings in fat!

Bronwyn said...

You are so right on this Lynn. Focusing on the difference between the high you receive from living life and being at peace to the high received from eating food would be great for moments of trouble.

Just wanted to say that I've been following you since 2007 and that I admire you for always getting back up even when you fall down.

Take care Lynn!

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! Just what I needed to read. Thank you!


Wendy Del Signore said...

I just found your blog. I have a Motivation Monday link up and we all get together with weight loss tips and progress. Will you join us today?

Lori said...

Thank you for this post. I saw myself in it. I never really binged to hide my feelings. But I definitely used food in the way you described. I used it to celebrate, overcome boredom and the like. I appreciate having my eyes opened today.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lyn

Are you going to fitbloggin 13? I'm not a blogger yet but I hope to be soon so I thought I would go to the conference and listen / learn. I'm a mom of twin boys ( age 3 ) and live in Seattle. New to your wonderful blog this week.

Thanks :) Kathy M.

Lyn said...


no, I'm not going, but I hope you have fun!

The Courageous Life said...

I added you to my blog roll at I just started MediFast and I'm struggling a bit with the food, but I'm working on it! I'm commenting here because this post speaks to me. This is EXACTLY the realization that has hit me recently and is the big reason my blog has the name it does. Because of growing up fat and all of the rejection and teasing and insulting I endured growing up, I became afraid of people, afraid of experiences ... afraid of life. I lived through food. It's all those things you said it is. It became life. I'm 42 now and still trying to break free of my fat shield and enjoy people and experiences rather than being afraid of them. It's a tough habit to break. Thank you for your words. You nailed it for me.

Andrea said...

Oh, this was very insightful. I'm not generally a binger, but yes, food as experience I can relate to so well. Thank you for helping me realize something important.

Anonymous said...

this is how i live.
i can't get out of it. :(
i feel so awful.