Some weeks ago my therapist asked me (through the course of me talking about my poor eating habits), if I was stress eating. When she put a label on it like that, it felt weird- a combination of relief that there was a reason I couldn’t get myself to eat healthy, and panic that I was actually doing it. Since then I find myself horribly empowered to eat whatever I want because, I tell myself, “I’m stressed.” I always convince myself that I’m running late, or that I need something ultra convenient, or that I just have to put something in my stomach so I won’t get a headache or be cranky, particularly around my boyfriend. In the morning I convince myself that I don’t have five minutes to sit down and eat a bowl of cereal, and that it is somehow quicker to stop at 7-11 or Carl’s Jr. or McDonald’s. For the same reason, that I don’t have time to make a healthy lunch, so I promise myself I’ll go to Subway but then I go to somewhere terrible. I’ve been spending $6-$10 a day on lunch 2-3 times a week. I should be conserving this cash. Evenings are the WORST. With my job and my social life (they overlap, sometimes I can’t tell which is which) I am often not sure what my plans will be after work. I live very far away from my work and most of my social activities, so I usually have to stay at work until an event starts. I have to find myself some dinner in the meantime, and I almost never pick a healthy option. Even worse, I often drag my friends or coworkers in to wasting their money and getting dinner. Misery loves to have dinner with friends. Weekends are just as challenging. My boyfriend comes to visit, and we love food and are constantly trying all these new places together. When I lived in a neighborhood closer to LA, we realized that in a year we had never gone to dinner at the same place twice. This is exciting as a “foodie”, but really terrible for my health.
Lately though, it’s been getting more intense. This is more than stress eating. This is depressed eating. Some things at my job have taken a turn for the uncertain, and I’m handling it by stuffing my face. I relate all too well to the addicts on the show “Intervention” on A&E- with food instead of drugs. I eat to feel better, to balance out, to calm myself down, to distract myself, to feel happy, to feel rewarded. I think I described to someone as, “When the tummy is full, the soul is full.” What a dark place.