Hunger + Exhaustion + Anxiety = Chew-and-Spit

iciclesLast night after work, I drove to the gym to get in a last workout for the week … and turned around.

I was seriously so proud of myself. It’s so very rare I do that (I can count twice in the past 6 months — both of which have been documented here)

But this week alone (my “week” goes Friday to Friday) I had burned an awesome 3300 calories in exercise (per my heart rate monitor — I usually aim for 2800-3000) and have been sticking to my SP range, never going above the max limit.

So I didn’t need the exercise, and knew a night off would probably be beneficial for my muscles. In addition to that, I was wiped out after a restless night’s sleep the previous night … and the biggest factor of all: I was genuinely hungry and knew a workout would only make me want to eat more later.

All of these factore led to the rational, calm, sane decision to take a night off.

I went home intending to just unwind with my husband, since this has been a stressful week for both of us and we hadn’t spent much time together.

But that was not to be, thanks to Mother Nature.

My tummy did little flips when I heard how loud the water was dripping in the living room– this should have been Cue #1 that I was feeling stressed and susceptible to a chew-and-spit incident.

You see, our living room windows — from which melting snow/icicles had started dripping through the molding as of Wednesday night — was now a soaking mess.

We’d thought we’d contained that night and Thursday morning, but clearly not. The stack of towels and Sham-Wows we’d piled on on the ledge were drenched to the core, and the plastic containers we’d put down on the floor to collect water (as it was dripping from the whole set of window panes and not from one specific spot), were overflowing.

And just for giggles, the carpet (beneath which is a hard-wood floor we’ve yet to expose) was absolutely drenched. Our attempt at damage control just wasn’t cutting it, and I saw dollar signs swirling in my head.

My husband came home just a few minutes after me, and took one look at my face and knew it was worse than when he’d seen it this morning. I showed him the new damage, and, as I knew he would, he went right to work.

(I seriously don’t know what I would have done if I’d married someone as uninterested in home repair as me! He loves the challenge of fixing something broken.)

So he used the big Shop Vac we have from September’s flooding (a real treat) to suck out some of the water. I helped him dump the gallons of water out, but Houston still had a big problem.

Being the calm-in-the-face-of-a-challenge engineer/fix-it-guy that he is, he went outside to try to break off icicles with a hammer and shovel, and clean as much of the gutters as he could … all while the sun (Public Enemy #1 for us today) was rapidly sinking beneath the winter sky.

I stood and freaked, picturing the roof caving in with me watching it happen (Did I ever mention my imagination tends to work on over-drive sometimes?!).

I watched him from the inside, helping by turning on the lights when it got dark. Then I started panicking about him being up on a ladder. He wasn’t high up, but it was dark and slippery, and, naturally, I had all these images of him coming crashing through the window … or of an icicle impaling him.

Panic led to a problem — and not his (he was fine, steady and sharp).

While he was getting something from the garage (and no longer up on the ladder) I decided to sate my hunger with a snack. I went into the kitchen and had a T of PB, which tided me for a little bit. I’ve said before, PB isn’t a trigger food for me (or should I say, wasn’t, until I said it wasn’t; then Murphy’s Law kicked in)!

But, the longer he was up on the ladder, the more nervous and anxious I grew. All I wanted was him safe inside the house and wanted the leaking house to be repaired with a magic wand and to be sitting down eating dinner together … but I was nervous and tired and hungry … and used food instead as a vehicle … instead of sitting with my emotions.

I knew it was mostly in-the-moment anxiety compelling me to go back for more PB; I didn’t want/crave anything else. Yet at the same time, I didn’t want it, at least not fully … I just wanted the taste of it.

So I had another taste. And then, before I could catch myself, I took another taste and chewed and spit. And chewed-and-spit. Again and again. Actually, I wasn’t even chewing anything — just putting it in my mouth in big spoonfuls for a second, and spitting it right out. Some sick pleasure in it.

Honestly, I was too exhausted to try to stop the behavior, which I’ve identified as one of my mind’s coping mechanisms for stress.

And so while I completely recognized it as anxiety, it didn’t stop me from chewing-and-spitting my new (expensive) jar of gourmet, delicious, rich PB Loco, White Chocolate Raspberry flavor. Sigh.

Yup, I’m ashamed to say … the jar was “gone” … and only a little over 2 T had actually been ingested (1 T in the a.m., 1 T, at night and then I docked myself another T for kicks because I’m sure some calories get ingested).

When it was all done, I was a little annoyed with myself, but not to the point of concern that this is a relapse. My husband came inside not too long after, soaking wet and freezing, and my incident seemed like a fleeting moment of the past.

Analyzing last night, I realize it was a combination of being anxious, hungry, and exhausted that led to my incident. I figured, in the grand scheme of things, it was better to have done that than actually eaten a jar of peanut butter, which, in that moment, was clearly and certainly a comfort food.

As it turned out, my hubby ran out and got some materials for a temporary fix until we can get the professionals in (or Mother Nature quits wreaking havoc on our casa), and I didn’t go to bed loathing myself for my behavior or even feeling particularly shameful.

It happened, and I blogged about it because this is part of the reality; I slip up sometimes and I’m human. I’ve noticed usually I slip-up after a good, long incident-free streak. It’s Murphy’s Law, and I’m proof that we can never be too confident in our recovery.

So there you have it. I had a chew-and-spit incident, the first in a long time now — but as always, I’m not viewing it as a setback, but rather a pebble on the road.

Today’s a new day, and I’m looking forward to a great weekend — with, for the first time in eons, no definitive plans.

How about you? What was the trigger for your last anxious moment you can recall?


26 thoughts on “Hunger + Exhaustion + Anxiety = Chew-and-Spit

  1. My latest trigger was the moving guy coming over to evaluate how much stuff I had for my move to San Francisco. But I think spending the last couple of weeks knowing I’m going to move are a sort of constant trigger. I am definitely up a couple of pounds because of all the goodbye happy hours/lunches/dinners I’ve been having where I drink a drink more than I should or snack on things I know I’m not really hungry for.

    Good for you for NOT beating yourself up, picking yourself up and moving on 🙂 Because you’re right, in the grand scheme of things, one incident is a bummer but definitely not a pattern.

  2. Oh moving is DEF a stressor – I moved before our wedding — mistake!! I mean, it’s not like I gained a ton, but I sure wasn’t able to re- lose those couple. It didn’t matter in the end; I felt like a princess — but moving is still a huge stress-inducer!

    Thank you 🙂 Yup, it isn’t a pattern anymore — thankfully!

  3. First of all, How have I never heard of P.B. Loco??? My mouth is watering before 10am looking at that site! Between that and the almond butter you wrote about, I don’t know how I’m going to be able to keep my wallet in my purse today.

    I had a few slip-ups the past few weeks, and anxiety is definitely the culprit. I didn’t even eat any trigger foods, I just ate larger portions of my dinner and snacks and felt uncomfortably full.

    BTW, thank you for introducing Sparkpeople! I started using it and it’s so interesting to see how much fiber, sodium, potassium, etc I’m getting and how much my body needs. It’s a great nutritional tool!

  4. I know, it’s INCREDIBLE. The Cookie Dough one is sick. They’re sooo sweet. But reading the label, I’m kind of glad I didn’t “eat” it all — lots of ingredients!!! Too many for my liking. But soooo good for a treat. I bet it’d be amazing melted into oats. MMM.

    No problem — I love SP! Def. a good tool.

  5. Wow Melissa-you are a serious inspiration. I have definitley had my slips for sure, and my post yesterday about “what recovery is” really helped me gather new insights about the taboo topic. I agree, it would be NAIVE and destructive to think “i’ll never purge/restrict/binge/chew-and-spit again”. It’s a long road, but as long as we view them as setbacks, not endpoints, (as in having to start all over from square one), then we are still on that road. in fact, many experts say that if dealt with rationally, these types of things can help our recovery. it seems as though u have an amazing understanding of the incident. You are a true inspiration to so many people. Your transparency and honesty is admirable. Have a beautiful day!

  6. Thanks so much, Lee!!! I loved your post yesterday — I think I commented, I know it resonated!! Exactly, we’re NOT at “square one” — thank gosh. Thank you so much. You, too, have a beautiful day!

  7. I just want to say congrats on not beating yourself up on this one. If recovery was easy, no one would have a problem, whether it be with ED, disordered eating or any other addiction. The title of your post really shows that you’ve learned something from the experience which in a weird way makes it worthwhile.

    I always try to learn from the slips and since perfectionism is so tied to my disorder, it’s a slap in ED’s face when I’m not so hard on myself and rather let myself learn from the experience instead of beat myself up.

    Have a great weekend…I love “no plan” weekends, they don’t come often enough.

  8. Great job staying positive after a slip up. I need to learn to do this more instead of beating myself up about it. My latest slip up was on Monday. Normally it is from anxiety or stress, but this time I am not so sure. I went out to dinner and had a burrito and ice cream (healthy versions). I went home very full but just continued to eat for no reason. I think when I get home earlier than usual on a week night, this happens or on Friday nights when I am at home by myself and have no plans for the next day. My goal is to go at least a week so lets hope I am okay this weekend 🙂

  9. Hunger + Exhaustion + Anxiety = everything bad for my health and weight loss journey. Add a little depressoin in there and you are talking. Those ingredients bring out the same things for me.

  10. Thank you, Leila — I think that is the key –seeing it for what it is, a learning experience. In a way, it’s progress … to know why we did what we did.

    Missy, I totally know what you are talking about. Usually in situations like the one you’ve described where I’ve turned to food, I’m craving companionship … and either hubby isn’t home, or friends are all busy or there’s no one I can call at the moment … food becomes a comfort. Have a great weekend.

    Exactly, Jason!

  11. M – I’m so sorry you had a rough night.

    I can understand just wanting to EAT under stress. I consider myself less fortunate (though I guess that depends on who you ask) than you because I actually ingest the calories I eat and stop counting altogether in situation like the one you shared.

    We are only human and no one is perfect. You know why you did it. You were giving yourself permission to do so because of a less than pleasant situation with your husband (you and everyone else reading this can empathize). I think the trick is to not never expect it to happen again, but maybe hope for next time only half the jar chew-spitted instead of the whole thing. if you can catch yourself half way next time and say, “Hey M, WHY am I doing this? maybe I can do something else calming besides putting things in my mouth just to have them in my mouth only to spit it out again.” (btw I know how that sounded, but you get the point!).

    I personally am a bit envious because I don’t spit up food. I eat it and then have to pay the consequences in terms of weight gain. Then again, I think that spitting food up is a big red flag for an eating disorder (imagine what you’d think if you walked in on your husband devouring a jar of pb and then spitting it up again, tb by tb). I know you know all this and you’ve heard it from me before.

    On the other hand, I have issues binge eating – eating WAY past satisfaction. and in some way, that’s also a big red flag in terms of an eating disorder as well.

    We all have our demons. The trick is to learn a little bit about ourselves every time they come to haunt us. Eventually you will be stronger than they are. I have so much faith in you!

  12. Hey! I am a blog follower of yours and I am just wondering if you have ever considered starting a food blog? I too struggle with very similar eating issues like yours and have considered taking pictures of everything I eat and posting it on a blog. I feel like this way I am held accountable for everything and it will stop “mindless eating.” Just something I am wondering if you have ever considered? I know you read some food blogs, like the “Eat, Live, Run” one from Jenna, etc. Let me know what you think!

  13. Thanks, Cathy. Well, it wasn’t just wanting to eat — it was hunger too. And I think that was actually the driver, the anxiety and exhaustion fueled it. You’re right, we’re human though and it will happen again, but we learn each time. And maybe next time it’ll be half. 🙂 Or just a spit. This time, I knew what I was doing AND why and frankly … didn’t care.

    Nah, don’t be envious. It’s a disgusting behavior. If anyone saw me, I’d be so embarassed — like when my mom did at Thanksgiving! Yup, we all have our demons, thank you though!! 🙂 In a way I DO feel stronger each time it happens now b/c I know the “WHY” part, which I never understood before. Sometimes it’s enough, not always though.

    Hi Kristine! I think it’s a great idea if you want to do that, esp. if it will help with mindless eating. And I think food blogs are a great idea for some people.

    But I think a food blog would be too obsessive for someone like me who is already doing so much in this realm. On top of that, I keep my journals to be accountable and have never strayed from them in 5 years (this April will be 5 yrs) — even when I’ve gone WAY over my Points or calories! I do love those food blogs (like Jenna’s) but to me, that could be a bit obsessive for someone like me and frankly, I don’t want to make any more of my “food issues” by having a camera out 😉 I LOVE what HangryPants, Lee (For the Love of PB), Kath, Madison (Follow My Weigh) and Heather Eats Almond Butter have done with their blogs, but my objective for the blog is awareness about DE and recovery … the desire for weight loss is trickling back in as I get a hold of these demons, but it’s not the primary focus so … in a nutshell, great idea — but not for me/my audience. I wish you the best of luck if you do it though! Let me know if you decide to 🙂

  14. Hi Melissa, I really liked how you said you viewed it “not as a setback, but rather a pebble on the road”. For people who’re prone to thinking in all-or-nothing terms (like yours truly), I think that’s a definitive step towards defeating that sort of mentality. Your blog has been a great source of inspiration. Thank you also for your email. You’d be proud to know that I haven’t chewed and spat for nearly two weeks now, and am actually doing pretty well and eating healthily. Take care!

  15. Excellent news, Feng!!! 🙂 That is seriously awesome!

    I am totally prone to “all or nothing” thinking … so this WAS, indeed progress 🙂 Thanks to all of you for helping me see it that way!

  16. My trigger is almost always anxiety…but sometimes, I don’t know if I can put a finger on what makes me binge. It’s frustrating, but like you, I’m fiiiinally starting to really tell myself that one small bump in the road is not the be all end all. That’s when I get into trouble, and have weeks at a time where things are out of control. I guess it’s just acknowledging that we are human, and do make mistakes all the time. Congrats on not letting it get you down – that is huge! 🙂

  17. I understand the stress eating I think alot of women are like that, me I love some chocolate when im stressed out and I try not to have it in the house but I have found that if I freeze it and only have 1 when i “need” it and just let it melt in my mouth it helps not only make it last longer but i get to fully enjoy the cals. and not feel guilty about it.
    You guys have probably already thought about this temp. solution but have you tried those plastic sheets that go over your windows and you use a blow dryer to shrink them and help make them taut i beleve they are water tight and maybe you could use them on the outside just to prevent the water from coming in.

  18. Holly, anxiety seems to be a trigger for so many of our compulsive behaviors. For me, esp in college and after, it was often shopping … and then I returned everything b/c I never wore half of it! It was like a shopping binge. Yup, acknowledge we’re human and move on 🙂 Thank you 🙂

    Star, I know what you mean!!! 🙂 MMM frozen choc. — Yorks!

    I willl share that with my hubby– the problem isn’t the widows though, it’s the molding above them (not part of). EEKS!

  19. OMG. Your blog is soo boring. Do you honestly expect people to be interested in DIY in your living room which you describe in interminable and unnessecary detail. Why are you telling us all this information? I know eating disorders are linked to narcissitic personakities and in your case I would add laughable anal retentiveness with your obsessive gym bunny behaviour, how many calories burnt? and counting ts of PB. Maybe the time spent wasted in the gym would be better spent reading a good book. It might improve your writing skills. ?Unless the writer is engaging, really WHO CARES? Save it for a longwinded personal journal entry. What is it with the internet, that everybody thinks that the minutae of their lives is of interest to the whole world? It’s just boring and embarrassing.

  20. I wasn’t going to dignify this personal attack with a response, but I tend to speak my mind and well, this is my blog — my platform.

    Your comment was rude, uncalled for, and unsolicited. If you hate my writing and topic so much, why are you here? Why bother commenting? I have hundreds of hits a day at my blog and my readers are engaged and interested …or they wouldn’t return.

    I’ve been blogging since June 2008 and congrats to you for being the first downright nasty commenter. I hope you feel better about yourself.

    This post was from JAN 2009. It’s now FEB 2010. I’ve come a long way, baby.

    1. What a bratty, bitchy little coward! So many things could have prompted this comment, but obviously she’s jealous of your readership, mean, and incredibly immature (“OMG. Your blog is soo boring.” Doesn’t that just scream Valley-girl 8th grader to you? Like, ohmigod how lame.).

      And how is someone whose sole purpose in writing is to bash an innocent person over the head with her moronic, ignorant opinions, while using really bizarre question mark placement and totally ignoring spellcheck, qualified to critique your exceptional writing skills?

      By the way, you handled yourself in the face of this idiotic assault with your usual grace, poise and humor. Can I borrow some of that sometime? You obviously have plenty to spare. 🙂

  21. I used to chew spit a couple years ago. I was single, and lonely, and stressed, and obsessed with keeping my body super skinny. I would come home from work with groceries purchased with the intention of just spitting out. It came to a point where I was extremely depressed and made a connection to my unhappiness with the way food had taken control of my life. So I forced myself to never decline a social invite or date, simply because I was afraid of what I might eat or who might comment if I don’t eat enough…..basically not allow my obsession with food to get in the way with my social life.

    I found myself feeling healthier and happier and enjoying life more in general. I have actually found the most most amazing man in the world a few months ago, and we are madly in love. Moving in together in 2 weeks!! I am so excited and a little nervous about living with him. He is gone this week on business and so I’m spending a lot of alone time and trying to pack up my apartment, And tonight it happened. I had a major relapse. And I’m trying to figure out why. I’ve gone so long without chew spitting, but tonight after work I went straight to the store and bought a ton of sweets, chocolates, and granola knowing that I would chew and spit. I felt ashamed and guilty buying the food, and even spitting it out later. I think perhaps I have done this as a “farewell” to my unhealthy food behavior? I know that when I’m living with my boyfriend I would be too humiliated to ever attempt this activity.

    I love him and I want to be normal for him. I love myself and I want to be healthy and kind to my body. I had a relapse. Yes. It happened. But I will not let that determine the outcome of tomorrow, or put a grim forecast on my upcoming weeks. I think I’m overly stressed, and a one incident relapse is forgivable. I’m glad there are places like this website where a person can go to find support and the extra encouragement to overcome issues with food and body image. We are not alone!

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