Tag Archives: emotional eating

Alone as a neutral space

Yesterday I had a busy, noisy day in London. Some alcohol-fuelled students on the train got it off to a nerve-jangling start, and I found the crowds and noise difficult all day. So this morning, sitting in bed, aware of the silence around me, I could welcome it. And that gave me a different perspective on being alone – it’s a neutral space, that I can populate in different ways.

I’ve just written in my journal: “projecting inner wounds onto a neutral space”. I mean the labelling of being alone as rejected, invisible, unloved etc etc. Making it  a place of hurt and pain. There is choice in this.  This morning there was a sense of needing to embrace the silence and aloneness – that’s what transforms it into solitude, which is the healthy place to be with it.

Maybe I have more choice in this than I like to accept. There’s a perverse pleasure sometimes in the melancholy, in the “lonely”, “unwanted” labels. They confirm old scripts. But maybe I can choose to make it time to change those scripts…

I’m using a collection of quotes on solitude, and yesterday’s was:

I had already found that it was not good to be alone, and so made companionship with what there was around me, sometimes with the universe and sometimes with my own insignificant self, but my books were always my friends , let fail all else.

Joshua Slocum, Sailing alone around the world.

At first it was the bit about the books that struck me, as it chimed with my thoughts earlier this week about reading rather than surfing social media when I’m feeling lonely or bored. But as the day went on I found myself reflecting on the first part. Choice again. Am I Iago’s “I am myself alone” – or am I part of the whole, even if I go through the world in solitude? As I walked to the station, I was listing things that I’m a part of, belong to: my family; my local community; my city; my county; my country – and so on, radiating outwards. I’m part, if a loose part, of some friendship circles. Of the organisations I belong to. Of the online forums I  subscribe to. Of the groups of people who have shared interests, even if we’re not working together on them. Of those who have similar political and ethical vews. And so on. Most of the time, that doesn’t mean I’m communicating with the people in these different groups, but there’s a sharing, something in common. Perhaps having a consciousness of all those links, basically seeing myself as connected rather than as isolated in that bubble, would help change my outlook and diminish the pain?

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Weighed down

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.