Friday, January 16, 2009

Food Anxiety

It's a beautiful, sunny-but-frigid day in upstate NY. My poor son, who has been betting on (and praying for) a snow day all week, in light of the bone-chilling temperatures, evidently isn't going to get one. I kind of miss the wonder of being a kid in this part of the world... it's always possible that every winter day just might bring the magic of a snow day. A totally free and unexpected day off. We should all get snow days, really.

Michael is napping in a chair, dappled with sunshine. And "dappled" always makes me think of this poem that my mother loved. My quiche is in the oven, and I'm sitting here doing what I always do, thinking.

And I'm thinking about food, which unfortunately is not a rare thing around here.

I've come to a conclusion lately, which really is a no-brainer, I suppose, but still... at this point, if I am ever going to get my weight down, I have to actively work on the behavioral things. At this point in my life, the reality is that I eat very well from a nutrition point of view, I don't do a lot of things that I used to do (like binge eat), and I am reasonably active, even though I'm still not back to the gym. But I don't lose weight. Barring something physically wrong with me (which seems unlikely), it's all about eating too much and too often. But it doesn't seem to me that I eat too much and too often because, well, it's the way I've always eaten (yeah, that really should tell me something, shouldn't it?).

So I started reading Judith Beck's book, which is really about congitive therapy and diet, and while I haven't gotten that far in it (partly because I'm in the middle of three books at the moment), it's made me think about just paying attention to eating. Paying attention to the difference between hunger and boredom, and all that stuff that you've heard a thousand times on every list of diet tips.

But here is the thing that I really noticed since I have been trying to be more mindful about eating. Eating makes me really anxious. I wolf food like someone is going to take it away from me, and I don't notice what I'm eating, and at the same time, I am profoundly anxious. Which, when you think about it, is the strangest thing ever. I mean, if you look at the things that cause eating disorders (of the overeating sort, that is), it's usually said to be about the calming effects of food, food as comfort, etc. And there is some aspect of rapid eating that genuinely is comforting, I think... it lets you shut off and zone out. But this shovel-it-in-your mouth, fast eating neither lets you enjoy food nor is... peaceful, I guess, for lack of a better word. And when I slow down and really think about food, I feel this lessening of tension, this release of anxiety.

It's all very strange really, and I'm not sure how to put this together with anything just yet.


Maggie said...

I am a very fast eater. First of all, I'm from a family of 6 kids. If you didn't eat it before someone else, it was likely you wouldn't get it. Then, my first boyfriend was a fast eater and made it clear he wasn't going to wait for me after he was done (nice, eh?)
So for me, at 43 yrs old, it's just habit, even now that I'm aware of it.
Mostly I just be sure that I am calm BEFORE I eat so it doesn't get tied to any stress or emotional unbalance.

Nina said...

When I was a kid, I vividly remember actually *competing* with my family to see who could finish dinner fastest. In what realm does this make some kind of sense?

Sigh. Don't you sometimes just feel like you spend all your life just trying to undo what you learned in the first ten years?