The last several days, I’ve noticed I’ve been eating to the point that I’m uncomfortable. I don’t mean that I’m sick to my stomach, it isn’t that. It’s more like I kept going when I clearly should have stopped. I end up feeling pressure way up by my ribs. I’m too full. On a couple of occasions, I have woken up the next day still feeling full. It’s extremely unpleasant.
Now, if you’re a normal person reading this, I’m sure you’re thinking something super-helpful like, “stop eating.” Gee, thanks. I’m cured… NOT! I am an emotional eater. Translation: I eat when I am happy, sad, nervous, tired, depressed, nostalgic, elated, hungry, not hungry… I just eat. Sometimes it helps, at least in the short term. Others it doesn’t, but I still keep eating. As a recovering alcoholic, my options are limited. I can’t have that glass of wine so many moms mention at the end of a stressful day. And honestly, I don’t miss it. Drinking never did me any favors, and it created far more problems than it ever resolved. What I do miss is the idea of a fix for a bad day. Calgon never worked the way it did in the commercials, either. Damn it. A piece of cake, on the other hand, or some chocolate chip cookies… those work. They take me away, however briefly. I pay the price later, of course, with that “too full” feeling and with clothes that tell me I’ve been overindulging again. Also, when I’ve eaten too much, the girl I see in the mirror looks worse. It doesn’t matter what the current physical reality is, or what the number on the scale says. When I overeat, I don’t like what I see. That is the highest price, and I pay it far too often.
I tried going the 12-Step route for food. It didn’t take. That sounds like the start of a joke, but it isn’t one. I once went 15 months without eating sugar or overeating in any way. I was white knuckling it, though. I wanted sugar every single day. I know people in recovery who feel the same way about alcohol and somehow stay sober a day at a time, regardless. God bless them. If I had the same ongoing desire to drink that I do to overeat, I might be sitting in a gutter somewhere. I might even be dead. Before you start thinking that my problem with alcohol must not have been that serious, I can assure you that it was. The only difference, the only one, is that my desire to drink got lifted early in sobriety. It just vanished. It was nothing I did; I can’t take credit. I can say I am incredibly grateful. I wish the same thing would happen with respect to food, but it hasn’t. I have good days and bad, but it remains a battle.
The sad thing is, I feel better when I am eating normally, and better still when I don’t eat sugar. I love sugar, but it is absolutely a drug for me. When I stop eating it, I get terrible headaches. They can last anywhere from several days to a week, and it’s awful. You would think that knowing I feel better without it would be enough, right? You’d think it would be sufficient motivation to stop. When I am not eating sugar, I am calmer, less moody. My moods stay relatively constant, with noticeably fewer ups and downs. I have fewer headaches, and am generally a more pleasant human being. I know all of this, and I still can’t seem to give it up. I am truly powerless. Sugar has won the war, at least for now. I hold out hope that someday I might be strong enough to beat it, or that better still, that the desire for it might be taken away.
Until then, I will fight mini battles every day, at every meal. Wish me luck.