Any one else a big comfort eater? I am. Some of my first memories of childhood injuries and trauma were followed by food to make me feel better. But it wasn’t until I watched my sister in law take that route with my niece that I realised what happened to me and became determined to break the cycle with my girls. While I succeeded there, I never did break the habit myself. Any bad news and it was straight to food. I wasn’t a big sweet person, but a big bowl of carbs always made me feel better.
Not only did I comfort eat, but I was food obsessed. Maybe obsessed isn’t the right word, but ask me how a holiday, an event, a party was and I will usually say “it was great…the salmon/chops/burgers/lemon tart was amazing”. I went to the Gold Coast for a photography seminar and was away about 6 days. When I came home I proceeded to talk about every single meal I had. Very little about the friends I made (I made some wonderful ones), the people I met (my photography hero ended up being seated with us at dinner on the final night and was DELIGHTFUL) or even the opportunity to visit seaworld before opening. It was as I was having this conversation with the girls father that it clicked. But I still didn’t know how to change it.
After I got out of hospital after my last stay in the psych ward I started seeing a cognitive behavioural therapist and made more progress in 3 sessions than I had in almost 18 years of talk therapy. I had the opportunity to work through any issue. I stayed silent on the food issue, instead saying I was over weight because of my meds (at that point I had only just started to gain, but was already carrying about 15kgs extra). You know you have massive issues with something when you hide it from your therapist. I was afraid of working through it and no longer getting the feeling that came from eating. But not only that, I didn’t want to give up the really yummy stuff. I wanted to eat an entire wheel of camembert as it tasted delicious.
Almost two weeks ago today I was diagnosed with diabetes. It was a Friday and Fridays I meet my friend in the city for dumplings followed by burlesque. I hadn’t gotten breakfast before I left the house so grabbed a vege pastie on the way (I’m not a vegetarian, I just am really fussy over quality of meat…and pies & pasties are usually filled with the worse parts). I had been seriously craving KFC so I was going to go to the doctors, grab KFC and then head to the city. After Burlesque I knew I would have to walk down Elizabeth St to the station & I could grab a slice of pizza. (quick side note – this isn’t actually a typical day for me, typical day out maybe, but not what I would eat everyday…if it was I would be twice the size I am!).
Of course then I was told that I had diabetes and everything needed to change. At that moment I knew I could do what I always did before going on that diet that never came around and have one last…. or I could do what I have never managed to do and change my life then and there. I chose the latter. I could smell KFC (and by this time I was starving) but caught the bus right past it. I got off in Footscray and had to walk past Olympic Doughnuts (IF you haven’t tried their hot jam doughnuts and you don’t have diabetes…go there right now and eat two, one for you and one for me). By the time I was in the city I thought I was going to pass out from hunger (even though it had only been about 4 hours…I am usually a grazer). I got the best thing I could see which was a roll stuffed with tandoori chicken breast and baby spinach. I then threw away half the roll. After finding out the girls and their dad were still in the city I met up with them….at McDonalds and felt like the world was conspiring against me. After that I met my friend and informed her I couldn’t eat dumplings, but I didn’t want to inconvenience her so I offered to go with her so she could still have them and I wouldn’t. Thankfully my friend could never be that cruel.
So here I am, two weeks on, and I had a really, really horrible parenting day yesterday and came home from soccer exhausted, wanting to cry and desperate for some carbs. I carefully measured out my allowed rice and piled vege curry on top. By this time at least the screaming and sobbing had stopped and I was able to sit and eat in peace. But it didn’t make me feel better. I sat there thinking now what?
Now I have to address my emotions instead of relying on food. Now I need to sleep better as I can’t just have a hit of sugar to keep me going through the 3-4pm slump. Now I need to enjoy my holidays and friends more than the food I eat.
I just keep telling myself, my life depends on this. And it really does.