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Just Say No to Emotional Eating!

Posted Aug 17 2012 1:17am

My view, sitting at Mesa Coyoacan in Brooklyn, NY, eating the best chicken mole ever.

As many of you know, I was in New York this past week on work/vacation and I’ve been going through some serious OUCH! material with the whole “wow I just realized my ex-boyfriend is not who I thought he was” brouhaha.

Now, before I continue, please play along with me in this quick one-question quiz:

Q: What do vacations and heartbreak/severe disillusionment have in common?

A: Food. Lots of it. Indulging in said food. Celebrating time off and simultaneously drowning sorrows in said food. Lots of food. Have I mentioned the quantity of the food?

Okay…so I seriously fell (jumped head-first) off the MS recovery diet wagon this week. But I was staying in Brooklyn, just down the block from the best Mexican place ever, that happened to also serve the best version of my favorite Mexican dish – chicken mole. It came with these perfectly ripe slices of avocado on top and I got to sit outside in their cute little outdoor section in the front. Could I really be expected to not eat that meal twice a day for every day of my trip? When would I ever get such a chance again? One cannot take exceptional chicken mole for granted.

My diet is typically so clean that my body is sorta like a BMW 6-series accustomed to filling up with 93 octane and then suddenly being insulted with regular unleaded. Plech! says my body. Plech!

And may I add – at the risk of revealing too much information (as if I haven’t done that a thousand times already on this blog) – that the toilet noticed the difference in my eating habits too. So did the extra toilet paper.

The truth is, I intended to loosen the reigns a bit on my trip. Though Ann Boroch might disagree with me, I feel that it’s healthy and essential to take a short mini-break from the diet every now and again. Unleash the tension of the constant discipline it requires. Live a little. Feel like a rebel for eating chicken mole! The damage that might be done to the body by this transgression is made null and void by the elating, healing effects of feeling normal, healthy, and free.

Now, before you go and eat a brownie and say I told you it was okay, I do have some lines I won’t cross. For example, I know the mole sauce I was eating was very high in sugar (thus the deliciousness) and the tortillas are made of corn, which is a genetically-modified, blood-sugar-spiking, mold-riddled no-no. But it’s not a hot fudge sundae and it’s not a huge piece of fresh, gluten-y  bread.

I still have my standards and I’m not advocating self-sabotage. Sugar is a dangerous devil. I’m advocating a rare but well-timed, slight indiscretion for maximum yummy-ness payoff.

Okay, so, rewinding a couple weeks…when my ex-boyfriend’s lesbian baby mama texted me to let me know that he was now in a ‘relationship’ with the woman she had just dated for two years and just split with a few weeks prior. In that moment, my instinct said “Must remove pit in stomach. Must eat cookies at once. Must escape unwelcome real-life episode of Jerry Springer.”

I made a beeline for the pantry and picked up the box of my daughter’s Fig Newmans. They looked so good. I stared at them for a moment and imagined the pit in my stomach dissolving as the sugars made their way into my bloodstream. Like heroin. Like heaven.

I took a bite.

But that’s as far as I got. I couldn’t do it! My association with sugar equaling sickness and discomfort and misery has grown so strong and powerful that it didn’t even taste good. The consequences are simply too high at this point. It actually repulsed me, because I have programmed my mind to skip right over the pleasure part and go straight to the day after, when I feel like hell.

That is the secret.

The chicken mole was an indiscretion. So were those nachos with a bit of cheese and sour cream on them. But binging on those cookies would’ve been full-on self-sabotage. And I’m done with letting that guy destroy me.

More importantly, and more accurately, I’m done with letting my self destroy me. (Or at least I really hope I am.)

Emotional eating never works. Learning how to disengage emotional eating is a crucial strategy to staying on the diet and staying healthy and symptom-free. I know how strong the pull is in the moment to just go for it. Which is why the key is to exit the moment and time-travel your ass into the future, when you’ll regret it with the entirety of your inflamed, awful-feeling body.

The next time you feel upset about something and you’re sure that a little piece o’ pie will make it all better, do this instead: Skip the pleasure you’re imagining when you convince yourself it’s okay to eat it and go straight to the worst way you’ve ever felt with MS. Associate the pie with the sickness.

Do this over and over again. It’s like a muscle that will strengthen with reps. The more you do it, the denser your neural pathways will become that support and anchor this way of thinking. And the easier it will become to say no to emotional eating.

Then slowly back away from the kitchen. Or…chow down on some stevia-sweetened gluten-free, sugar free muffins by Namaste Foods instead – an essential binge 911 rescue alternative you should always have in stock until you get really good at just saying no.

*          *          *

Happy Birthday Charles Bukowski! One of my all-time favorite writers. I think he may have gotten it right on love : “Love is kind of like when you see a fog in the morning, when you wake up before the sun comes out. It’s just a little while, and then it burns away… Love is a fog that burns with the first daylight of reality.”

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