Binge

I have written quite a bit about my relationship with food. The emotional weight sticks heavy. The one aspect that I have only vaguely touched on is binge eating. And until very recently, I have not really acknowledged it as a problem.

I know there have been many days where I have absorbed packets of biscuits, but they were treats, or because I didn’t have time to cook and needed to eat quickly. I was hungry and needed the energy, the sugar rush, I know that once I start eating a packet, it would be hard to stop eating, but this was just something that I sometimes too. A quirk, and certainly not a problem for me.

Last week, after having not really eaten any biscuits for a while, I bought a packet of coconut macaroon type things. I think that there were six in a packet. I ate one with a cup of tea, and although I didn’t really want anymore, they were suddenly all gone. I felt sort of horrified at my lack of control and that has been the first time I have fully acknowledged that this might be an issue. Rather than just one of my many amusing foibles.

So in the spirit of research (am dedicated to my craft!) this morning I purchased a packet of biscuits to actually try and analyse what the kick actually is for me. I think it starts even before the purchase. As soon as I have intended to eat something sugary in quantity, I do start to feel a little bit excited. Then there is the buying bit. This feels like some massive stab of independence, I can buy whatever I like (hear me roar!). Now I am actually eating the biscuits I am not feeling very much at all. The packet is almost empty (they are pink wafer biscuits, they disappear fast!). Slightly sick would be the closest thing I have going on to an emotion right now. It’s simply a process to get to the end.

Two things occur to me. Firstly this feels very similar to my smoking experience. I love the creation of a cigarette, the collection of filters, paper and tobacco. Then I ensure that the tobacco is laid out right before committing to the roll. The for me is definitely the best part, I enjoy the dextrous skill involved. The second thing that occurs to me is that a food binge for me is nothing to do with food. It is about allowing myself permission to do what I want. I don’t feel in a place of particular stress right now, but as with most things, although I know I feel good, I still have my old habits which did not come from being in a place of happy. Food binges are an old coping mechanism. Eating every last biscuit completes the task, and then the anxiety is over. Now I just feel sort of urg. It also occurs to me that the time process involved in this has been quite substantive too.

Am not really sure where to end with this one. Anxiety is harsh.

Map Point. Where am I placing my power?

 

 

New horizon

Last night I made a decision. My sugar intake is much too high and I am going to reduce it, which sounds simple enough. I am too heavy, so I need a reduction too. I am also not exercising which is clearly a problem and I sometimes smoke. I am clearly not someone who is ‘at the top of their game’ when it comes to health.

Exercise is the easy one. I like to exercise, feel much better for it, but have got out of the habit. So as of next week, I will start to re-energise myself. It is obvious, the more you do, the better you feel. Unless of course you do too much and put your knee out requiring a few days laying in bed saying ‘ow, ow’. But exercise is straightforward. Unless it isn’t, in a round about sort of way. It is highly dependent on my motivation being good. Getting started with any new activity, or even re-engaging an old one takes almost as much energy as it does to complete the activity itself. And then, if you as far as the actual activity, you feel doubly spent. So for my first week in my attempt for ‘getting my exercise on’ I will commit to one run. Doesn’t have to be long, uphill or even totally run. I just have to be present.

Smoking. Urg. See the issue with this is that I seem to really enjoy doing it. But it is an incredibly filthy habit, so have rationalised to myself that on the few times that I go out in the space of a year, if I want to smoke, then that is okay. But the rest of the time is now a definite no. I like breathing. I find it entirely life sustaining and anything that hinders that is gone. Goodbye death enhancing friend.

Sugar. If I thought that daring to put my trainers back on and going for a run was hard, I then had the challenge of not becoming fixated on smoky past times. But both of these things times a sizably huge number would describe my relationship with sugar. I like white bread, pancakes, chocolate milk, cake and the holy grail, biscuits. It almost doesn’t matter what the biscuit is and I will consume it. If it dips in tea then that is a win, but I do not judge the biscuits that don’t dip, there is room in my stomach for them all. I can often sit with a full packet of dippable biscuits and after five to ten biscuits I look down at my cup of tea and wonder where it has gone. I am always surprised. And it doesn’t have to be tea, biscuits will dip into almost any hot beverage. Coffee, hot chocolate, herbal teas and paracetamol based hot lemon drinks are all suitable liquids in which a biscuit can be readily dunked. Whilst I was at university I made a website called ‘There’s a Scarab in the Biscuits’ which I only have on a zip drive somewhere. It featured a video clip of how long a person can hold a dipped biscuit out of a hot beverage, before they have to get it to their mouth, prior to catastrophic failure. In short. I love biscuits. But I also love my teeth, not having diet-related diabetes and in truth, I was starting to get concerned about the judgement of the folks in my local supermarket. There was a distinct ‘Oreo’ phase. But knowing that I have such a limited grasp of control when it comes to biscuity goodness, they have to go. At least for the next week.

I think that resolutions like this are incredibly easy to make from a day where I have done very little to promote future wellness. And it is incredibly easy to justify slip ups with all sorts of incredible reasons. I also don’t want to give myself a situation where failure is inevitable, and my self-worth disappears over the horizon line like boats do for people who believe the earth is flat. So am simply setting myself good health tasks for a week. This is something that I can achieve.

Map Point. What can I change this week?

 

A Seed Bar and some Ice-cream

This morning I went to a vegan food festival. I anticipated this would be a day of much feasting and revelling in all things non-meat and dairy. However the reality was I was overwhelmed, in the last ten or so years, I have never been to a place before where all food was available to me. No menus to appraise for the one or two (if I am lucky) possibilities, no ingredient lists to look through for likely suspects. This was a place where I could have eaten cakes, biscuits, multiple hot dishes, pastries, salads and so much more. But I didn’t, I had one seed bar and an ice-cream. And this felt indulgent.

I have simply come to expect that my choices will be limited with food. I know that in many places I will order chips and salad and that the salad will quite likely be iceberg lettuce, sliced cucumber and some quartered tomato. And this will be served without dressing. I accept this. The way that I eat is not the way that most of the people I know eat. And this is okay too. Everyone makes their own choices with food. However, after the overwhelmingness of the festival, I realised just how much my diet limits my expectations of food when I go out. I guess I already knew this, but today, completely confirmed.

I then started to think if there was anywhere else in my life that my limitations have lowered my expectations? I thought back to what I wrote yesterday, and how I have lowered my expectations in some areas of my life, and it is time to make some beneficial changes. And then I thought about massive changes that I have already experienced and rationalised that it isn’t that I don’t make big changes because I do. It’s that the more changes I make to my life, the more possibility for change I see. The path gets ever wider.

I remember when I was in school about to sit my A Level exams. I could not foresee a time that they would be over, such was their enormity at that point in my life. When I was learning to drive, actually passing my test seemed like such a big thing. Same for my degree, different jobs I have had, and countless other things that I have done extraordinarily well with. So for me, it isn’t actually about me feeling limited, it’s about controlling my anxiety about all the incredible options that are open to me and not being too scared to try. Because if I really want to do something, based on past performance, I know that I can.

Having this knowledge that I can, is definitely a good thing, applying this knowledge? Something much more complex! Knowing that I have done, is past stuff, knowing that I could possibly do? That is the future, full of unknown variables. Learning to trust myself, to have faith in my decisions, that is where I can make progress, that is what will empower me to grow.

When I go to the vegan food festival next year, I will go prepared!

Map Point. What have I done really well?