Food for Thought:
Andie Mitchell (from http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com/peace-with-food/)
“Throughout my lifetime I developed what Geneen Roth calls “the inclination to bolt.” She is the incredible author of such books as “When Food is Love,” “Feeding the Hungry Heart,” and her latest, “Women, Food, and God.” She has a keen understanding of emotional eating and her writing has made a world of difference to me. Her book, “Women, Food, and God,” deals in part with this “inclination to bolt” as it refers to the intense desire to leave yourself, to flee, when life becomes difficult. It is the wanting to be anywhere but where you are. To escape boredom, anxiety, sadness, fear, and loneliness. Food is the place I go to escape. Many people do this. Obsession, in any form- be it with food, with schedules, with the future, with alcohol or drugs, is an avoidance of the present. It is a way of passing time, a way to “get through” life. Not to live life, but survive it.
Since I didn’t confront my emotional eating until I had lost all the weight, I met it at a time when I was sober from food. I was a thin person reconciling with two decades of compulsive eating. It’s like drinking yourself into an oblivion at night, getting sober by morning and having to clean up the house party you didn’t realize you threw. I came to understand that ending my emotional eating meant resisting Roth’s “inclination to bolt.” I had to stay here, to sit with myself. Just as I wouldn’t turn away from a friend who needed me, I had to love myself as much. I promised the little girl, the teenager, and the adult versions of me that I was going to stick around for the hard parts and that I was willing to feel. I made an agreement to fully live in the present moment. Because if I leave the moment when I feel uncomfortable, I am missing the opportunity to grow, to learn, to be strong, and to be loved.”
I think this was an interesting point. I’ve known that eating has been a comfort to me. All of my life I’ve indulged in escapism of some sort. When I was a kid and we couldn’t afford the shiniest and trendiest clothes, the fanciest bikes, karate classes, or piano classes- I would escape.
I know, in part, that food was a way for my mother to show that she loved me and in turn I used food as a way to love myself. When I felt invisible at school- food was my friend. When I didn’t have the boyfriend or didn’t get invited to the parties or a million other reasons I was unhappy- food was there. In a way, so were books. I would read about other lands, other time periods, and other worlds. Books let me live my fantastical dreams where I identified with the protagonist who was living a life somewhere far removed from what I (thought then as) my boring and hopeless life. I could go to the balls, money wasn’t an issue, I was the center of attention and everyone looked at me with wonder and envy. People don’t usually critique you for reading too much (except for my family who always said I read too much =P), but they will tear you apart if they think you are eating too much.
I think, a lot of my choice to change the way I eat is to be healthier of course. But what does “healthier” translate into on an everyday basis? I know less fat makes it easier for me to breathe and I enjoy walking around and I even have too much energy that I have to move. I know I have a long way to go. But I think it’s my relationship with myself and aided by my wonderful supportive boyfriend, Jerome, that has been teaching me little by little to live in the moment. Because to be okay with me and to be okay with my life is just…well ok. I want to be happy and happy means to love myself and to love my life. And if I’m not happy with the way my life is- then I’m going to change it.
I’m not done yet, in fact I’ve really just begun. But I know that I had to change mentally before I could begin to change physically. And both changes are still happening. I’m glad for the awareness, but it’s something I have to deal with everyday.
- The Owl