Self doubt. According to my book, it’s the root of all dietary evil.
I’ve been pottering along with the not-dieting thing for a while now, but just in the last week or so, I noticed that rather than maintaining effortlessly, I was starting to slip back into old habits. Alarm bells rang, and I thought it was time for a refresh via another reading of my emotional eating resources. The one I’m currently perusing a second time is Shrink Yourself, although I really rate Eat, Guilt, Repent, Repeat as well.
Anyhoo, this book is ace (for me at least), as even on the second or third read of chapters (this is my second full read through, but I’ve dipped into chapters a couple of times since reading it the first time in September), it still makes me go “oh my god, yes, it’s like you’re describing me!”. Which is quite reassuring because if the problems are similar, it gives me some vague hope that the solutions suggested might also work for me.
Sometimes, I wake up in the morning now, and if I ain’t hungry, then I just ain’t bothered about food. Which I think you’ll agree is a very nice thing for someone who’s had to think about her weight, and food consumption, most of her adult life. Other days, well, I still want to eat EVERYTHING, and I just can’t figure out why. There’s no palpable “I’m bored / sad / lonely and therefore hungry” light bulb going on over my head, and therefore I just can’t work out what to do to combat the feeling.
Re-reading the book has highlighted something I had forgotten though – that a lot of time we overeat as a reaction to self-doubt. And as I know very well, self-doubt can come in many forms, on many subjects and from many sources. This weekend for instance, I spent a gorgeous couple of days back in my dad’s home town, seeing a lot of old friends and catching up. It was all very lovely and happy on the surface, and yet I was eating way more than I needed. The minute I re-read the chapter on self-doubt it all pinged into place – I love those friends but they have very different lives to me: they’re all settled into married couples, own houses and are starting families. Whilst that’s not necessarily exactly what I want right now (the thought of having babies anytime soon causes me actual panic), I do somehow feel like I’ve fallen behind and my life is inferior when I’m there and immersed in that environment.
Stepping back and looking at it objectively, the truth is that I don’t own a home yet, at least in part, because I live in a city where house prices are pretty much double my home town’s – so even aside from the time out taken to pay off debts, I would still struggle to get a mortgage on my own. And the friends I have in this city who do own had parental assistance to get started ... I didn’t and that’s not inferiority, just different. I don’t really want kids right now (I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever be ready) but my friends at home are in a different phase of their lives and for them it is primary importance ... I’m just soaking up their priorities like they’re my own when I’m home. As for being married ... well, I won’t say that’s something that I wouldn’t like, or at least a decent long-partner, but life just hasn’t been kind enough to put that in my path yet. Does it make me an inferior person to them? Well, it’s easy to interpret it as such (I’m not as lovable, or attractive, etc), but I think that would be doing myself an injustice.
In the moment, immersed deep in the environment of my home town, it’s easy to let self-doubt take over, without even realising it and to numb the discomfort of it with food. Back in my flat, in my normal environment, and taking the time to really look into my emotional eating again, it fades like a bad dream.
Other than the eating, the weekend was glorious – staying with friends catching up on life, and laughing at the hilarious things their little 2 year old girl says, smiling at her wonder at there being snow on the hills on Saturday morning (as she announced to us so happily again and again). Wandering around the top of the hills, celebrating a pregnancy announcement and quietly mourning with another friend over a miscarriage. Shopping with the girls, pub lunches in the sun and gossipy dinners over wine. Friendships like that are food for the soul.
Monday came round so quickly, but it’s traditionally a day of fresh starts - so here’s to starting over, yet again, and kicking those self-doubts into touch.
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