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An Emotional Eater's Diary

An Emotional Eater’s diary

A Book By

Dr. H Adam

© Copyright 2016 All rights reserved.

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Contents

Entry #1 – What’s the point of all this?

Entry #2 – Start the diet tomorrow

Entry #3 – The nagging of a toddler

Entry #4 – Trials of an emotional eater

Entry #5 – Is it willpower?

Entry #6 – Be kind to yourself

Entry #7 – The scale dictate my mood

Entry #8 – Boredom

Entry #9 – Autopilot eating

Entry #10 – Start a diet after an event

Entry #11– Eating too fast

Entry #12–Second helping

Entry #13–Human dustbin

Entry #14–If you have the ability to love, love yourself first

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Entry #1 – What’s the point of all this?

Dear diary, I am an emotional eater, and I need your help. Ha, who am I kidding? This is I, Amanda Penman, the Queen of all those forgotten tomorrows, the purveyor of excuses—the binger of junk. I’m not sure how to start this, so I’m just going to let my mind roll with it.

I have a serious problem. I’m what the experts call an: ‘emotional eater’. What does that mean, exactly? It’s as simple as it sounds, really. I eat when I’m on a downer—but I’m not talking like some broken-hearted teenager that hugs a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream while she softens the pain with its contents. That would be okay. That wouldn’t be so bad, at least not as bad as this.

That jilted teen, and most other girls, who have ever suffered heartache, or rejection, will recover, and get over the loss. She’ll probably find another boyfriend or just get on with her life. She’ll burn off that tub of comfort with a few trips to the gym, and tell herself she’s better than him anyway. That girl, that girl is in control.

Me, on the other hand—I’ve been that teenager since I was at university. I’m thirty-four, now. While my friends are all getting hitched, and slimming down to fit into their wedding dresses, then going on honeymoons to sunny Barbados, and Hawaii, where they’ll tan, only worrying about their bikini lines—I’m still single. And bikinis? The less said about them the better!

Once upon a time, I ate because I was in pain. The food comforted me, like a friend, a shoulder to cry on. If I was distressed, or freaking out about something, that packet of biscuits sitting there amongst the tins of beans, and spaghetti hoops whispered that everything was going to be alright. Like a kid hugs his teddy, and watches cartoons, I sat there, in the semi-darkness of my flat living room, watching reality TV, while holding that open packet to my chest, dipping into it repeatedly until all that was left were a thousand crumbs scattered on, and around me.

Now, I’m not so sure anymore. When you’re a size ten, with a metabolism like a race car, what’s a few biscuits, or chocolate bars? But later, when the pain didn’t go away, like a doctor prescribing meds for depression—I increased the dosage, again, and again. The eating stopped comforting. It started to become more of a punishment than a pleasure. The strange thing is, I couldn’t, and still can’t stop it. At times, over the years, I have managed to keep the urges at bay long enough to lose as much as a few stone. But believe me, all those diets, the protein shakes and the bouts of starvation—they’re only ever short term fixes. The problem isn’t with my body—it’s with my mind.

The more I think about it, the more I understand. I guess that’s why every website, and forum I’ve visited in my search for answers, recommends starting a diary—thoughts seem to be more coherent this way. I don’t know what good that will do me, sifting through the crap in my head. It might be like hunting through your chest freezer, pushing aside forgotten bags of peas, and mixed vegetables you once swore you’d eat, searching for that tub of ice cream you could have sworn was in there. In other words, it might be sheer torture. But I like to think that this is the start of something better. It’s different, most certainly. I haven’t kept a diary since secondary school, and back then the pages were filled with crushes, and grudges, and bored ramblings. Oh, what I would give to be able to push a reset button and go back to a time when I was a size ten, and the biggest part of me was my chest…

So anyway, I suppose the whole point of this is for me to achieve a greater understanding of myself. One lady online said that keeping a diary helped her to understand herself better. She said it allowed her to take all those jumbled thoughts, she had each day, and make sense of them. Putting them on paper, she said, froze them in place so she could read them as many times as she needed. As an emotional eater, I can understand that. It isn’t easy trying to think straight when you’ve got this not-so-little voice in your head nagging at you to eat this or order that.

So, here I am, Amanda Penman, an emotional eater who wants to get her life back, who wants to let something other than food rule her every waking hour, and who wants to stop feeling so ashamed all the time.

I like this. I’m not yet sure if keeping a diary will help me overcome my binge eating habits, but I’m going to try it. Everything else has failed me, so why not?

The wheels of this habit have been turning for far too long. It’s time for me to put a stick between the spokes, and bring this eating machine to a grinding halt. It’s messy up here, in my head, full of stale biscuit crumbs, and discarded chocolate bar wrappers—but perhaps it’s time for a spring clean.

I feel better already. I must keep this up.

More later.

Amanda

Entry #2 – Start the diet tomorrow

So, diary, my name is Amanda. I guess you already knew that. I’m writing because…

Well. You know why, I suppose. But for posterity’s sake – I’m writing because I’m tired of not losing weight.

There. I said it.

I’ve tried everything. The Atkins diet. The shakes diet. Low carbs, low GI – the graprefruit diet. Tea detoxes. The works. None of it seems to work. I start off well. I stick to everything to the letter, sometimes for months at a time, but then… I don’t know. I get exasperated with the lack of progress, or I get tired, and then it’s all over. I put all the weight I’ve lost back on again – and then some.

It’s just so easy to overeat. You know how it is. Walk past the dessert cabinet at Marks and Spencer’s once and it’s game over. But alright – the advice said to be as specific as possible, so let’s start today with one specific problem.

I guess even just getting started is a problem. It’s too easy to decide to go on a diet ‘tomorrow’, because tomorrow never comes. I’ll start off so motivated. I’ll do all the reading – all the science behind it. (Ah, so that’s why eating only broccoli stems until 4pm and only drinking Lady Grey tea afterwards will make me lose weight.) I start to believe in it. I imagine my new self, svelte and sensational in time for some event or other.

Then I realise it’s 10am on a Sunday, and there’s a full Sunday roast to be had tonight. Alright, then, I tell myself, last day of freedom. Unfortunately, the last day of freedom turns into a total mess. Second helpings and snacks—second helpings of snacks. I’ll remember a packet of biscuits that’s lurking in the back of the cupboard, and – well. Can’t have them there to tempt me when I start on my brand new diet, can I? So I’ll eat them all, and the packet behind them, and eventually by 9pm I’m a chocolate-smeared mess with my jeans button undone on the sofa, lamenting my lack of willpower and remembering that tomorrow is McDonalds Monday at the office. It is as unattractive as you’re imagining.

‘Tomorrow’ turns into ‘next week’, because next week feels like the distant future. And then the whole cycle starts all over again.

If tomorrow ever does arrive, it comes along with a shopping trip to pick up all the necessary elements. Shovel-loads of mangoes, maybe, or seven thousand boxes of muesli. (This may be a slight exaggeration.) Either way, there’ll be a special on chocolate doughnut or something, which would frankly be uneconomical to pass up. Two hours later I’ll be found packing all these carrot sticks and pre-mixed salads into the fridge with a doughnut dangling from my mouth.

I wish that was an exaggeration, but it isn’t.

I’ll get myself on the scales to start the new diet, possibly even with said doughnut still perched in my mouth, and to my infinite surprise I’ll be even heavier than I was expecting. Not surprising, with all that ‘preparation’ for the new diet, which I’ve probably already gotten sick of.

Great start.

I suppose it’s the sort of thing everybody struggles with. I hear Margaret from the office talking about how she’s starting her Zumba class ‘next week, definitely’ practically once a month – but in my case it’s getting ridiculous. How many people can honestly say they’ve been failing the same goal for upwards of two years with no discernible improvement?

Writing this has forced me to accept that I’m clearly incapable of continuing adult life and had better sign myself up for willpower classes stat. That being said, I don’t have the willpower to write any more tonight. Another great start.

More tomorrow.

Amanda

[*Entry #3 – The nagging of a toddler *]

B ack again. Not only is it three days later instead of ‘tomorrow’, like I said – ironic much??? – I ate three packets of crisps on the trot before I geared myself up to write this, so I think that ought to tell you everything you need to know. I may as well stop writing. Just put ‘three packets of Quavers at once’ and go.

But no. Let’s press on.

Last time I wrote about getting ready for diets. This time I’m going to write about the inner voice. This is probably a very generous and mature way of referring to the screaming toddler version of Amanda that lives inside me, demanding chocolate and utterly failing to understand or care about the nice, adult logic that backs up a diet.

Toddler Amanda does not care about Slimming World sins. Toddler Amanda wants another biscuit, and she cannot be sated by the knowledge that she has already eaten four of them. Toddler Amanda thinks diets are petty; sometimes she turns into more of a teenager Amanda who rejects the authority of the diet, and says that nobody can tell her what to do. She didn’t ask to be born, and anyway it’s not very hip or modern to conform to society’s standards of attractiveness.

(This is a very tempting train of thought to follow for a while – this anti-body-shaming thing. It’s quite popular on the internet now. It does briefly make me feel better about tearing through my entire snack cupboard over the space of an hour. Then I catch sight of my thighs and we’re back to square one.)

It’s so hard to ignore that inner voice. You’re standing there alone with nobody to regulate you but yourself; you tell yourself it doesn’t matter. Just one won’t hurt.

Of course, one actually doesn’t hurt every now and again. It’s just that it turns into two, and then three, and then four, and suddenly it’s an awful lot more than one, and an awful lot more frequently than ‘every now and again’.

The irritating part is that it’s not even particularly satisfying. When you cheat on a diet and it’s something incredible, then that’s one thing. It’s a whole other ballpark when you’ve just finished eating whatever it was, and it’s basically taken up your entire calorie allowance for the whole day, and you look back on it and think… why? I didn’t even enjoy that.

That happens all too often – and I’d love to say it’s that nagging toddler’s fault, but… the toddler is me. It sounds like a different person in my head, because that’s how my head arranges the thoughts, but in reality it’s just me with my horrible willpower.

This is not a very uplifting entry.

More later.

Amanda

Entry #4 – Trials of an emotional eater

Again, we’re starting off slightly ironic here. I picked up the pen to start writing about emotional eating, and then I realised what happened after I finished yesterday’s entry. (At least it was actually yesterday this time – I managed that bit of discipline, if nothing else.) I was so miserable about how bad my willpower is, and I dwelled on it for so long trying to get it down on paper, that I ended up ordering pizza for dinner. Pizza and three sides – and I ate all of it.

But it illustrates my point, really. Emotional eating is a serious problem for me. My willpower, as we’ve discussed, isn’t that strong to begin with. When you add a difficult day into the bargain, my ability to say ‘no’ to myself completely disappears.

If it was ever there in the first place.

Actually, let’s not spend time thinking about that again. This is already going to be a difficult entry.

Okay, so.

My dad was in intensive care a while back. Really serious stuff.

My mum actually fainted because she’d forgotten to eat. She was so stressed that she just literally couldn’t even remember to feed herself, and she passed out trying to cope with everything. Me, on the other hand? I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t think about anything but eating. Thinking back on that I feel so selfish; my dad was in hospital and my mum was grinding herself into the ground, fading away, nothing. And there I was gorging myself.

It’s hard to look back on, but I know it was the stress. Stress does different things to different people. To me I suppose food is a distraction. If I’m cooking I’m not just sitting there thinking about my dad. It’s hard to write this, but maybe if mum hadn’t been driving between home and the hospital and working hard and physically having to deal with things… I don’t know. Maybe she would have felt helpless and started comfort eating too?

It makes me feel guilty to suggest that.

The website said I shouldn’t beat myself up about these things and that it’s just the human body and the brain reacting in the way it thinks is best to cope. It’s not my fault, per se. But I still don’t like it very much.

I think we’re done for today.

More later.

Amanda

Entry #5 – Is it willpower?

Sorry about last time.

I suppose I don’t need to apologise to myself, do I? Not for that, anyway. Maybe a few other things.

I did upset myself yesterday, but something good came of it. I called Ruth and told her what I was doing, and admittedly cried about seven litres’ worth of water.

(Not really. If I’d cried seven litres’ worth of water I might actually have lost some weight. But that joke’s probably in really bad taste, isn’t it?)

The point is that she told me something that made me feel a little better. She asked me if I’d have felt selfish if I’d called her for comfort when my dad was in hospital. I said no, of course not. She said – well, then. Why do you feel selfish for finding comfort in something else? And I suppose she’s right, really. If something helps you cope and doesn’t hurt anybody, then you shouldn’t be ashamed of it.

Of course that doesn’t mean it’s healthy or that I should just accept it and never change. But it does mean I don’t have to feel really guilty about it, and that’s nice at least.

It’s strange, isn’t it? You feel like you can’t forgive yourself, but the second somebody else says it then it’s much easier to accept. We humans are a masochistic bunch.

It’s interesting, though, isn’t it, the idea that overeating is just another way of comforting yourself – like running a bath, or meditating? It’s just a shame that it’s a bit self-destructive to the extent I do it to. I wonder if there’s a way of channelling it into a healthier comfort? Maybe I should take some cookery classes – learn some really health, fulfilling stuff I can pour myself into.

Hmm.

Another thing she said – and aren’t friends great for your ego? – is that I have amazing willpower. That threw me for a loop, actually, because… well. Like I’ve been saying, I have terrible willpower. I let that inner voice rule me, and I put things off until tomorrow, and all of that. But despite all of that, Ruth’s opinion of me is that I have an iron will far beyond most people’s. Unless she’s lying, and I don’t think she is, she was genuinely surprised that I thought otherwise.

She said she’s never known anybody be able to stick to a diet like I can when I get going. The juice diet, she mentioned. She said – how can anybody bear to stick to such a strict, unsatisfying diet for three whole months? But I did. We decided that willpower itself isn’t my problem. It’s the initial leap.

Interesting.

At least we can end more positively today. I’m actually going to go and look up cookery courses nearby me online. Probably I’ll end up setting the room on fire and poisoning everyone I love – but at least I can’t binge eat in prison.

(Again. Bad taste?)

More later.

Amanda

Entry #6 – Be kind to yourself

I’ve been thinking a lot today.

I know what you’re thinking. There’s a first time for everything, Amanda.

Cheeky. But you may be right.

There was a TV program on earlier today. A documentary, but… you know, not a real one. It was just one of those sensational, super-biased Channel 5 ones. Documentaries more for entertainment than, er… documenting things. It had one of those really long names. Something like – Help! My Mum’s Too Fat to Function. Something awful.

Honestly, I don’t know why I watched it. They were being mock-serious through the whole thing, but just using it as an opportunity to laugh at her. They’d spend half a minute talking to her, but instead of showing you the interview they’d show you footage of her struggling to do something – struggling to walk down the hallway or something. You could practically hear the tuba playing in the background, how they always make fun of fat people.

I spent the entire hour horrified. Every time there was an ad break I was texting Ruth – are you seeing this? This is just nasty. This poor woman clearly had an addiction and an illness, and they were belittling her and showing her up as though she was lazy and stupid on TV. There was one part where she was talking about how she felt compelled to keep eating and she was crying because she couldn’t stop – and they showed footage of her actually eating a burger while they were playing that interview.

Honestly, it was disgusting. But it made me so angry and upset, and I realised that this is kind of the way I’ve been treating myself.

Not as cruel, and not as obvious, but I haven’t really given myself respect and room to think. I do have an addiction. I do have an illness. It’s not fair to berate myself for struggling with that, especially because it’s not like most addictions. If you’re quitting smoking, for example, you give up cigarettes completely. If you’re an alcoholic, you give up alcohol completely.

I can’t give up food completely. I still have to have a relationship with it. Of course I’m going to struggle to regulate my diet while I’m still fighting it. It’s normal and natural and expected.

And here I am beating myself up.

More later.

Amanda

Entry #7 – The scale dictate my mood

I’ve discovered something.

I’m going to write about it now, but you’ve got to promise not to laugh at me. Future self, you are not allowed to laugh. You’re already laughing, aren’t you, because you remember what it is?

Bitch.

Trying to lose weight makes me sad.

Eureka!

No, it’s more complicated than that. I was talking a few days ago about how my emotions can control my eating. You remember that, right, diary? It’s not like you do anything else but listen to me. So I just want to point out the obvious. When I get on the scales and I haven’t lost weight, it makes me miserable.

And then what happens when I’m miserable?

Bingo.

The thing is, I know logically that losing weight isn’t just about what you eat. You can stick to your diet perfectly and still not lose much weight in a week. Being ill can stop you from losing weight. Not doing enough exercise. Believe it or not, even your period can affect it. So when you step on the scale and see no results, it doesn’t mean you haven’t been doing well. It just means the weight hasn’t come off yet.

Does the logic occur to you when you’ve suffered all week and the scale says nothing different – or worse, it says you’re heavier? Of course not. Logic goes out the window and you just feel terrible. At this point, it’s so easy to say – well, what’s the point? Sod the diet. It’s easy to tell yourself you deserve a treat for being so disappointed.

Maybe I just shouldn’t weigh myself, but then it doesn’t feel real. It barely feels like a diet until you obsess over your numbers.

I should really get in touch with that therapist, shouldn’t I?

More later.

Amanda

Entry #8 – Boredom

Boredom doesn’t help either.

Sorry. That was a really blunt entry, wasn’t it?

Hello, diary. It’s me, Amanda. I’m well, thanks, and yourself? I’ve been thinking more about this whole food business, and something else occurred to me as a trigger, so I’m going to write it down. I hope that’s okay!

There. Feel better?

But the point stands. If you’re not doing anything it’s really easy to just… let yourself think you’re hungry. We’ve all done it. You snack watching TV because you’re not really interested in what’s playing. It’s something to do with your hands, digging through a packet. Humans today just aren’t very good at doing nothing, are we? There’s always something going on so we feel like we ought to be engaging with the world all the time.

They say that’s why people are addicted to their smartphones and the internet, but for me it’s food as well. If I go out for the day I won’t need to eat at all, really – just mealtimes. If I’m sitting at home doing nothing, though, I’ll pick at things all day. It’s especially shocking when you think about how much more active you’re being and how much energy you’re using when you’re out and about. Say if I’m going shopping or walking around a museum, that’s burning way more calories than just sitting at home reading or watching TV. So how can I possibly be hungry?

The answer is that I’m not. Not really. It’s just something to do.

I don’t really know how to fight that one. Can’t be bothered going out all the time, obviously. I’m only human. Might be easier if I had a nice boyfriend to go out with, but… well. That is a problem for another time, diary. That is another kettle of fish entirely.

I have no solutions today, only problems. My manager would not be impressed.

More later.

Amanda

Entry #9 – Autopilot eating

Hello, diary. What’s cooking?

(Spaghetti, actually. High-fibre spaghetti, in a nice healthy sauce my work colleague gave me the recipe for. It’s good stuff. I’m proud.)

It’s not even just boredom, I’ve realised. I eat because food is there.

My problem is that eating is my autopilot setting. If there’s food around me, I have to consciously work to switch it off. I’m guessing most people just automatically tell themselves, when they’re hungry – okay, food time. For me it’s the other way round. I have to constantly remind myself that it isn’t food time, and that it shouldn’t be food time. It’s a lot of effort, which is what makes dieting so hard. You have to be focusing all day, else you end up with a Mars bar in your mouth.

I wish I could say I’m joking, but I’m not. That’s happened before. It was sitting on the kitchen counter at home staring at me, I got lost in thought – Chris Hemsworth was on the TV; I’m only human – and I picked it up and started eating it before I’d even realised what was going on.

It’s really irritating when you notice, actually. I’m an adult, after all. I shouldn’t have to be in constant supervision of myself. I should be able to switch off and think about something else without reaching for the nearest high-calorie life ruiner.

On the upside, I am not a heroin addict.

More later.

Amanda

Entry #10 – Start a diet after an event

This is similar to the ‘start tomorrow’ thing, but – hey, diary. I’ve stumbled across something else.

I’m going on holiday next month – hurrah! – and I was initially going to try to diet to look better in my swimming costume out there. Then I decided there was no point in dieting pre-holiday, because I’ll only want to relax and enjoy myself out there, so I’ll put it all back on anyway.

It sounds like it makes sense, which is really dangerous, because… well. It’s more convincing that way, isn’t it? If it sounds like it makes even a lick of sense, then suddenly your excuse isn’t an excuse. It’s just logic, and you can get away with it. In reality, it’s silly to think that way. If I’m going to let loose on holiday and enjoy myself with food, then surely it would make just as much sense to diet beforehand so I’m not even heavier when I get home.

Or, of course, I could stop obsessing and caring about what I weigh and what I look like, and instead just try to be a healthy, happy, confident person.

Just kidding. I want to be skinny.

I’m allowed to mock myself, because I have no idea what I’m actually going to do about this holiday. I feel like I should tap into that iron will Ruth talks about and tone up a little bit, but I don’t know where to start. I can’t be done with eating the same thing every day for a month, but I find it a lot easier to follow those diets in the end. Routine, you know? It makes things easier. It makes food automatic instead of a decision-making process. There’s no shall I be good today or shall I be a bit naughty? You can’t ask yourself that, because there’s no choice at all. It’s just juice, or protein shakes, or whatever the thing may be.

I should probably start doing more exercise, too. Ruth’s been talking about hot yoga, but I don’t know how I feel about that. I picture myself getting stuck with my legs wrapped around my neck and having to be untangled by a 19-year-old instructor called Feather, who does not appear to know that he’s a white boy from Tunbridge Wells and assures me it happened because my chakras are purple. Or something.

I mean, ideally I’d love to be more flexible. It would make reaching the top shelf where I’ve hidden the popcorn a lot easier.

More later.

Amanda

Entry #11– Eating too fast

I read something interesting today, so guess what? I’m going to share it with you, diary. You’re welcome.

Here we go.

When you eat something, it takes 20 minutes for your body to register that you’ve eaten it. How mind-blowing is that? I figured as soon as it was in your system it would realise it was there, but apparently not. That’s why it’s so easy to overeat – because unless you take longer than 20 minutes, you’re never going to know if you’ve already eaten enough to be full.

Obviously, I’ve always eaten pretty fast. I love food; I don’t see any need to take my time with it. Straight down the hatch. Why not? We always got told off as kids for taking too long to eat our food in our household, so I suppose I’ve always just assumed it’s best to get it over with quickly. Mother knows best and all that.

I guess it doesn’t count as ‘quickly’ if you keep eating more than you would have in the first place, and for longer, but… you catch my drift.

I just don’t know how to use this information to my advantage. How do you make yourself eat slower? Do I literally have to count gaps between bites? Make the fork move in slow motion towards my mouth? Take smaller bites?

Okay, I called Ruth. Sorry. Not that you’d notice I was gone, I suppose – but anyway. She said she’s heard you should count the number of times you chew things, and becoming conscious of that helps to slow you down. Sounds a lot like hard work to me, but if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes. If this one tiny thing changed my life, then I couldn’t really complain, could I?

Well. I could. It’s going to be really annoying to count every time I chew. Maybe I’ll get used to it, though. Or maybe there’s just a better way of doing it.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Ruth. But this is ever so slightly psychopathic.

More later.

Amanda

[*Entry #12–Second helping *]

Twelve hours in and I have given up on counting the number of times I chew things. It’s making me feel I belong in a locked ward somewhere, and I’m fairly certain I look like it too.

Not that there’s anything wrong with people on locked wards, obviously, but I am not one of them.

I’m going to serve each element of my meal in a different bowl and only carry one to the dining table. Then I have to walk between to get each one. That might work, right? I can never be arsed to stand up and walk somewhere once I’ve already taken a seat.

More later.

Amanda

Entry #13–Human dustbin

Just went out for dinner with some friends – and yes, all of them are practically twigs, which is horrendous enough to begin with – and I realised another trigger. I know, right? Discovery is everywhere.

Everybody ordered something different. I was being quite good; I had a grilled chicken pitta burger with salad, and frankly I think I deserve full credit for that. So here’s me sitting there forcing myself to sip water between mouthfuls to try and slow myself down, right? Picture the table. They’re all chatting away, and there’s me counting in my head. Emma had a rack of lamb and I love lamb. Probably about as much as its mother did before it ended up on the plate. I’m sitting there staring at it, and all of a sudden she says – oh, do you want it? I can’t eat any more. I’m stuffed.

Cue an entire army of tiny girls pushing their leftovers towards me at this table. I mean – some of it was salad stuff, obviously. They’re tiny for a reason. But some of them had cheesy bites and bacon and there were mountains of chips left over, and there was me invited to eat it all. We were there for a few hours so I just ended up picking while we talked, and by the end I’d very nearly worked my way through all of them.

It was way longer than 20 minutes but I still kept eating – so I guess there’s that ‘this is going to change my entire life’ theory out of the window right there.

I do it with my own plate too, actually. Even if I’m feeling a bit full, I can’t leave any left over. I guess that’s a relic from childhood – being told to finish everything. You don’t feel you have permission to stop halfway through and be wasteful, even as an adult.

That leftover gifting thing is a really common pattern, though. Usually it’s not that much food, because this was a particularly big group I go out with – but even just having one other person’s leftovers means I’ve had my entire meal and then some percentage of somebody else’s. That can’t be good for you, can it? But that’s me. A human dustbin. They always offer, because I have lovely polite friends and they know I want it.

Probably because I’m staring at it like a starving animal, but I digress.

It would feel so impolite to say no. I know I talk a lot here, but in day to day life I’m actually not all that confident. (Woman trying to lose weight has self-esteem issues? Groundbreaking. I know.) I love these girls, really. I don’t want to offend them by saying no, even if I know they couldn’t possibly be offended. They’d understand.

The human brain is so weird. It convinces us of all kinds of things that just aren’t true – like feeling ashamed of comfort eating, or this ‘I will offend my friends’ business, or the part that made me keep talking at my date because it would have been ‘more awkward to stop’. The fact that I’m malfunctioning and addicted in the first place probably tells us all we need to know. Humans are like a first draft, and here I am suffering the consequences.

I feel like things are starting to look up, though. My consular was right. Sitting here and unpacking all of this is helping. I’ve been talking to Ruth about it, and that helps too. It’s a springboard for really thinking about things.

I’ve made an appointment with a therapist too. I know, right? I’m finally doing it after talking about it for so long. I suppose I’m just nervous. She’s a specialist, so I’m sure she won’t tell me I’m lazy and greedy and I just need to whip myself into mental shape, but part of me is still really frightened that she will. Maybe that’s not even it – maybe it’s that I’m frightened that she’d be right to say that.

We’ll see when I get there.

More tomorrow!

Amanda

Entry #14–If you have the ability to love, love yourself first

Well. I went.

Spoiler alert – she did not tell me I was lazy and greedy. In fact, the opposite; she told me I was very strong. She was really, really nice.

She really opened my eyes to some things. I know I’ve been understanding that it’s an addiction and an illness for a while, but she framed it for me in such a new way that I… I don’t know. I feel more respect and warmth towards myself now. I want to support myself and build myself up rather than break myself down.

She agreed with Ruth that willpower isn’t my problem. She told me a hypothetical story about a person with my overeating disorder being locked into a room where they only had the bare minimum food to survive every day until they lost all their spare weight. When they came out, she said, would they be better? Of course not. They’d put it all back on again, because they haven’t learned not to want the food. They just haven’t had access to it. It’s just like Celebrity Fit Club or Biggest Loser. They don’t change your relationship with food. They just make it so that your body has no option but to lose weight; your brain is left in the same unhealthy place. As soon as you have the option back, you return to your old habits.

It’s going to take training and a lot of self-love and patience, but that’s what we have to focus on. I need to concentrate on changing my relationship with food. Everything else is a surface-level, superficial fix. I need to learn to treat food as what it is – nutrition – and not as a comfort, or a way to spend time, or a routine. That’s going to be difficult, because it’s really the pattern of a lifetime.

I feel optimistic, though. I really do. Hearing her speak and hearing her mention all those things about the way I think – she clearly knew what she was talking about, and she’s managed to help people before. Even just that alone tells me I’ve got a chance. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like to be able to treat food normally and not as a friend or adversary, but I can’t wait. I feel emotional writing this now, actually.

Not binge eating emotional. A different kind. Happy, in a way? A satisfied emotion.

I walked home, too, instead of getting the bus. I never realised how much hopelessness was sapping my motivation. After trying so hard and for so long, I’ve been assuming there’s no way out – that I’d always be trapped in this cycle of dieting and feeling bad about myself. Now that I know I don’t have to be… I don’t know. It gives me new energy. It’s hard to keep trying when you feel you’re going to fail right from the get-go. The idea that I might not is so encouraging.

Maybe I won’t be bikini-ready for this holiday. I’ve resigned myself to that. But it’s about more than the bikini, really, isn’t it? It’s about being able to go out to dinner with my girls and say ‘no thanks’ to the leftovers without feeling like I’m losing a part of myself, or wasting something. My health and my relationship with food is a priority too. It matters. I matter.

This got heavy, didn’t it?

Well, maybe it was about time. I’ve spent half this diary making jokes about myself and I suppose that’s not good, is it, really? I should be kinder to myself, as kind as I am to Ruth. That’s another thing my therapist said, actually – that every cruel thing I say to myself, I should imagine saying it to my best friend. If I wouldn’t dream of saying it to her, then I shouldn’t say it to myself either.

It makes sense. Why should I hate myself? If I’m always treating myself badly, there’s no wonder.

Anyway, I suppose that’s all I had to say. I’m going to go and make dinner now. I think I’ll have a chicken curry with new potatoes. Or maybe a veggie burger with home-cut fries – or there’s a can of mushroom soup in the cupboard, and I could use up one of those bread rolls from the other night.

Or something else.

It doesn’t really matter in the end, does it?

It’s just food.

Amanda

If you enjoyed those diary entries, you can read Amanda’s full story in the novel inside an emotional eater’s head at https://www.amazon.com/Inside-Emotional-Eaters-Head-novel-ebook/dp/B01FWERHZY?ie=UTF8&qid=1465043446&ref_=tmm_kin_swatch_0&sr=8-1

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An Emotional Eater's Diary

Amanda is thirty four years-old, single, has low self-esteem, and is struggling to beat an addiction for which there is no help available. While alcoholics have the A.A. and drug addicts have drug rehab and counselling, emotional eaters—have fad diets that suck them dry of nutrients and energy. They also have starvation. These are Amanda’s only means of combating an addiction that is ruining her life. These are Amanda's diary entries.

  • ISBN: 9781311247803
  • Author: instyle4less ltd
  • Published: 2016-06-05 18:40:15
  • Words: 7216
An Emotional Eater's Diary An Emotional Eater's Diary