If January was a dessert, it would be the kind no one orders, like a wilted fruit salad with grapefruit in (NIGHTMARE) or a bland sorbet. Go away, January. This is awkward, but nobody actually likes you. We’re skint, we’re cold, it’s ages until summer and even longer until Christmas. And a lot of us are facing you stone cold sober.
January, I loved you in the beginning; on our first meeting on New Year’s day, you made me feel so powerful and special. You and I were full of possibility, and you made me feel all brand new. But as time has worn on, I’ve seen that you are not quite who I thought you were. Things between us are becoming so fraught, January: youre cold, you continually make demands of me, and you’re downright difficult to live with. This is hard, January, but I’m starting to think we cant continue. Shall you change or shall I? The crazy thing is, you and I were never even about resolutions. You were just a really good month. But you let me down, man. You let me down.
So basically I fell off the wagon big time last week with this low carb business. The monster of emotional eating has crept up on me big time and I haven’t wanted to fight it. It’s been a rough few days. I broke up with my boyfriend the week before last, and at first I felt great. I was angry, but it was a productive kind of anger, that spurred me on to get a lot of shit done. I suddenly had this incredible confidence. I was in Beyonce mode, spending time with my friends, doing stuff I liked, dyeing my hair really pink because I no longer had to worry about his conservative ass not liking it. I worked out hard, ate well, meditated and felt great.
But then, perhaps inevitably, the crash came. I’m definitely on the other side now but it was rough. I came home to my mum’s place for a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday night and I didnt actually leave until Friday afternoon. My friend calls this behaviour the ‘kitchen floor reset’ – you go home to mum’s, have an emotional meltdown, get it out of your system then go home all shiny and new. My place was on the sofa under a blanket rather than the kitchen floor and my family quietly allowed my miserable ass to stay there – they’re awesome – but I’m back at my flat now, sitting in front of daytime TV like a true student, and feeling calm and energised again. Beyonce is still in there somewhere.
I digress. Emotional eating is my arch nemesis when it comes to staying healthy. I think it has an even bigger hold on me than smoking did.
I think there are a bunch of reasons why it grips me and many others. For a start, food is widely available. Nobody will bat an eyelid if you buy a whole madeira cake at 10 o’clock in the morning like they would if you were getting a bottle of wine to drown your sorrows. You don’t buy Oreos off some sketchy guy on a street corner in Hackney. You also can’t simply abstain from food like you can with any other form of abuse/addiction because you’ll like, die… so whilst you can change your habits, know all there is to know about healthy eating and implement it daily until you’re blue in the face, when sadness creeps up on you… hi, my old friend pizza.
There’s also the social aspect of eating. Alcoholics and drug users manage abstinence by breaking the connections they have with the people they used to drink/use with, but imagine saying ‘yeah, I can’t be friends with Bob anymore, he eats too much pasta.’
Beyond the social aspect, you have the social acceptability. Especially after a break-up, and perhaps even more especially for women, perhaps the main factor is the pure social acceptability of it. People are generally unnerved by the idea of themselves or others reaching for a bottle of vodka to deal with heartbreak, believing this to be akin to alcoholism and the very accurate belief that this will simply make things worse. But a tub of ice cream, or a whole pack of oreos, devoured with a side of tears and snot in front of a Jennifer Aniston romcom isn’t only considered okay, for women, it’s kind of what you’re supposed to do when a relationship ends.
Its no problem if it occurs just the once. Its expected. For example, here is the sitcom version:
- Tearful woman squirts a whole cannister of whipped cream into her mouth, or devours a tub of Ben and Jerry’s with a wistful, trance like look on her face.
- Woman is later comforted by a usually platonic male friend who utters a few clichés, woman tearfully smiles, there is a hug, the studio audience ‘awws’ and everything is okay.
I’m sure this is not too far from real life for many (apart from the studio audience, unless you have your own personal one following you around everywhere). But for emotional eaters, there is more ice cream and whipped cream beyond the reassurance from kind friends that your sexy ass deserves better. There is chocolate and pizza and secrecy and shame. (Shame is particularly yummy BTW.)
So ranting aside, my accountability for last week: low carb happened here and there but mostly I ate shit. I kind of went into this with a hopeful heart that due to the lack of restriction on calories, the naturally curbed appetite and the fact that with a little creativity, it’s easy to substitute high-carb food with more fat and protein loaded options, this would kind of be the solution to temptation. Of course it’s not. It has helped the boredom eating; being so full all the time means that my mind genuinely doesn’t wander to ordering a takeaway or watching a film with chocolate on a slow Sunday afternoon. But when I’m sad – nah.
I can say with certainty that it’s nowhere near as bad as it was, probably down to awareness. I’ll do a little advice post on this at some point. But the last week or so has shown me that I’m definitely not there yet and changing the way I eat is probably not going to solve the problem. I am going to stick with the low carb for a while longer as it has helped with the appetite control, weight loss and I’m definitely feeling the benefit of eating more veggies. But it’s certainly not the solution to emotional eating, kids. Though you probably didn’t need me to tell you that.
January, maybe it is me. You still suck though.