One of the group of issues that are never far from my mind, and which takes up far too much brain space and emotion, centre around food, alcohol, weight and health.
For the past few years I’ve yoyo dieted, managing to lose some weight but then putting it back on again. Last year was typical – for much of the year I ate quite healthily and got within the healthy weight limits for my height – but now quite a lot of it has gone back on again and I’m eating too much sweet, fatty and processed food and drinking alcohol too often.
Like so many people, I’m an emotional eater (and drinker). Food is a comfort or a celebration, fills emptiness, cheers me up, calms me down, energises me, rewards me, consoles me. I suspect I’m addicted to sugar, or at least too used to depending on its uplift to give it up easily. I’m not alcoholic, but again, the associations with emotion are strong.
I think the physical effects of eating badly are considerable – not only the obvious weight gain, but sugar makes both my body and brain work faster (too fast) and can lead to anxiety and sleeplessness, and probably aggravates my IBS.
When I contemplate my eating and drinking habits, there are feelings of anxiety, chaos, confusion, fear – fear that I’ll never resolve this and that I’m damaging my health, that I’m not in control. As I said above, a lot of time and energy are spent worrying and fretting, without actually doing much about it. I know from past experience that once I’m eating healthily and the weight starts to come off, my self-esteem improves immensely and the ruminating ceases or is much reduced. This is definitely an area where the only answer is to DO something!
All the information that we’re given only confuses me further – go on a diet; diets don’t work; protein is good for you; protein gives you cancer; give up sugar; that includes fruit; fruit is good for you etc etc etc.
So, how to tackle this and find a way through to PERMANENT change?
If I say I’ll completely give up sweet food and alcohol, panic sets in, and I don’t think it’s helpful, because then I start thinking negatively about what I’m going to be missing.
So I’m going to allow myself 2 small glasses of wine 3 times a week – in practice this will probably be when I’m socialising most weeks. And a bar of chocolate each week or a sweet treat (small!) each day.
I’m going to use MyFitnessPal and count calories.
The aim is to lose all the excess weight by the end of March 2015, in time for my holiday in the States in May. That’s 2.5lb per month, between .5 and .75lb per week.
I’ve set up an Excel spreadsheet for weekly tracking of weight and shape.
This is the weight loss aspect of changing my diet – there’ll be another post on healthy eating generally and my need to try to identify the main triggers for IBS.