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Re-encounters with Comfort Eating

The New Year has brought an insane amount of newness for me which, although expected, has thrown me into chaos.

The New Job

You see – it was totally expected. Eventually, eventually they gave me my start date and it was in the new year and not before Christmas as originally expected.

So now I’m working shifts – which I have NEVER done before.

And I’m working in a cafe – which I have NEVER done before.

In a climbing centre – which, to be fair, I know quite well, but…. as a climber not a worker bee.

There are a thousand things which have thrown me off whack.

Mostly it is the newness of all the new things I’m doing and having to adjust to them.

There’s realising that although this company and its people are incredible (we have meetings on beanbags, with lollipops – what is not to love about that pray tell?) the work I am doing for it is so totally no up my street that it may as well be in another city.

Struggling to adjust

The newness and the change are difficult for me to adjust to, because on one hand I need this job and I know that this is an amazing experience and on the other hand knowing that this is just so not right for me is making it hard to keep going in every day.

And then there’s the shifts – which have just thrown my days into disarray and along with that my social life.

Like I never get to see my housemate any more. The woman is one of my closest, dearest friends and I never get to see her anymore.

Where I used to see her every day, at least for a little bit before we fell asleep.

Heading back into old territory

So on my days off last week, where I had no one to spend my time with, I discovered this much about me:

When I am left alone and am struggling to adjust to something, I spend my days in bed, watching telly and eating. Mostly eating.

Old comforts.

Food is something I used to have a very tangled relationship with and I spent a very intense year about nine years ago learning about how much I was using food as a comfort instead of listening to the needs behind my feelings.

But the change

Since spending a year journaling away my relationship with comfort eating I have a new way of interacting with it.

It involves allowing it to happen but also picking up my journal and listening to what is going on behind the scenes.

No judgement.

What I found this time was such a huge change in my ways of interacting with myself that it took me by surprise.

I remember the days before when there was so much guilt and anxiety over feeling what I was feeling, this time however what was there was permission.

Comfort and Joy

Yeah, I discovered that the reason I was eating was because it was bringing me comfort and joy where I was feeling these things were lacking greatly from my day to day.

My other sources of these are scarcer now – my friends, my QS job, my colleagues, the known – and so I was turning to once source which was readily available.

Furthermore, I was able to give myself permission to need comfort and joy in a difficult situation, committing to finding some different, healthier ways of giving this to me.

Whilst I’m not sure what these are just yet, it does mean that every time I fancy eating when I’m not hungry and especially when it’s something sugar laden, I can recognise a need for a bit of comfort and then I can give myself an invisible hug and permission to need some comfort.

And so I say this

Comfort eating is a complex issue and the reasons behind it differ for everyone, but most often I believe it exists because there are some unmet needs lurking which are scarier than putting on weight or whatever negative connotations there are to comfort eating for you.

I have found that gently asking myself what’s up during these times, whilst still giving myself permission to need the crutch invariably leads to me being able to give myself what I really need without worrying that I am depriving myself of a source of comfort.

Food is less scary than asking for help in many, many situations.

Unless you’re asking for help from yourself, and in my experience, that’s the source that’s most often the most helpful.

Most of all permission to need is key.


3 Responses

  1. Great post, I don’t even know where to begin. During our family’s period of unfortunate unemployment, food became again the one thing which it was ok to have, a permitted luxury, as it were. And I have put back on some of the (120+) pounds I had lost. And I beat myself up for it. Thanks to early indoctrination into 1970s WW program “you should eat to live not live to eat” (still working on that one, among others, little kids are so vulnerable to messages) I felt really bad about it (do you watch Buffy? I always hear Spike when I say that phrase). Slowly working my way back to the surface and realizing it is ok to take care of oneself, and looking for other ways of nurturing when it is not just physical hunger that’s looking to be met. Again, great post. Thank you for sharing.

  2. […] needs or Physical needs or both? Posted on February 22, 2010 by Wormy Comfort eating … an old friend? Arch enemy? Bane of my life? Yet another lesson in […]

  3. Hi there.

    After reading your blog you might find my workbook useful, ’9 Essential Strategies to Stop Comfort Eating’

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