The other night over the phone, my mom told me how proud she was of my behavior this weekend — both she and my sister noticed how little (if at all) I talked about food, exercise, anything. I wasn’t, in their words, “obsessive” like I usually am. Coming from them, it meant the world to me.
My mom also acknowledged how she understood the challenges I faced — being surrounded by food 24/7 with family who love to eat as much as I do — and how she thought I handled it like a champ.
She said she didn’t know what I was doing or how I was doing it (not obsessing), but she could see a change in me, I seemed calmer, more resolute maybe?
I blushed a little over the phone, and told her that I of course didn’t just stop counting for the holiday … but that I just kept my thoughts to myself, journaled in private and counted in my head. It wasn’t actually so hard, come to think of it. “Information is a gift. Information is a gift.”
After talking to my mom, I chatted with a friend who was concerned about the embarassment and humiliation I felt about being caught in the act. She made a good point: she said I seem to tie shame to my chew-and-spit incidents, and brought up the fact that sometimes people take a bite out of something and don’t like it and (politely) spit it out; no harm, no foul.
Yet I stigmatize it, allow it to make me feel shamed. Me.
I mean, really, would I feel guilty if I bit into what I thought was a banana and found out it was a plantain and spit it out because I don’t like plantains? No! I’d probably feel bad for wasting food, but if a taste doesn’t appeal to me, what’s the harm in that?
I’ve put something on my plate before to be polite, taken a bite, not liked it and left the rest. Did I feel shameful then? No.
We also talked about how I insisted I felt I didn’t “need” the brownie … and she reminded me that sometimes people don’t “need” food; they simply sometimes eat just to eat, when they’re happy. Food is social, food is fun. It’s not the enemy.
Granted, it’s best to eat (from a nutritional standpoint) when we’re hungry and to make good choices, but sometimes it’s really ok to just “eat” and enjoy.
I’m not sure why I struggle with this so much. I think because I have drilled it into my head that if I’m not eating out of pure hunger, it’s emotional or mindless eating.
But sometimes emotional eating is pleasurable, and it’s not a bad thing( so long as it’s not done in excess). Like our anniversary dinner at the Melting Pot. Or a holiday. Or savoring dessert with girlfriends. All pleasurable food-related experiences.
Thanks to my friend, reframing these two perspectives helped me understand myself a little better. I hope to keep them in mind going forward.
How about you? Have you had any helpful reframing experiences recently?