Stress-eating, habit-eating, frustration-eating, tired-eating, relaxation-eating – you name an emotion, and I’m eating because of it.

I am noticing! I noticed today at dinner, when I had a half a pork-chop and some vegetables left, that I was probably full. So did I clear my plate, or did I stop eating? What do you think? Shiny, crumb-free plate was returned to the kitchen. Weirdly, I felt kind of hungry about 20 minutes later, craving crisps and chocolate and all sorts of whatever junk. The following questions occurred to me:

“What am I hungry for?”
“What am I feeding when I eat like this?”

Summertime bedtimes are frustrating as daylight is the nemesis of sleep, and I feel hugely frustrated at the feeling that what little evening time I have is being “stolen” by the awakeness of my children. (They are slowly learning to amuse themselves from bedtime to sleeptime, but all the same, the entire bedtime routine seems to have grown enormously protracted – much as it’s done at this time of previous years.)

So, I feel cranky and hugely deserving of a reward. And stressed and annoyed at a to-do list that’s too long for the short few hours of wakefulness that remain. And am I obliged to get straight down to work? Don’t I deserve a break? And somehow, tangled up with all of that, is this internal idea that so long as I’m eating I’m allowed to relax. So – I can take a break with a snack, but once that snack is done, the obligations of the world, my own expectations of myself, they all rise back to the surface, and can only be tamped down by bags of salty, crunchy foodstuffs and a liberal coating of sugary chocolate.

I know, at least it’s not alcohol, right? And I’m not even 30 days into this new alcohol-free life, but ….

Amn’t I just doing the same thing as before? Just using a different drug to do it?

I’m not sure I have it in me to fight this war on multiple fronts just yet, but am I being inefficient here? Shouldn’t I go to the root and stem of what causes these behaviours and just stop them there rather than having to process each and every action individually?

I thought about it this evening, with dinner. I really really did. And I would say that part of me even wanted to stop eating. But there was a huge screaming, stamping toddler behind the facade of adult-brain, and my inner adult was tired and in no form for instigating a tantrum. Yes, bad self-parenting. So – I foisted it onto Future Me. Future Me will deal with my eating habits. For tonight, I’m going to wallow in the comforts and relaxations that food can bring me.

But you know, I’m not eating right now! The children are a-bed – not yet sleeping, but quietly playing and on the right track. I’m in the precious aloneness bubble that my introvert self needs in order to not suffocate from the presence of people and the weight of a day’s social interactions. There is chocolate (Crunchies no less!) and crisps (Monster Munch!) that are mine for the taking in the snack cupboard. But I haven’t gone a-raiding.

Why not, this time? Well, I wanted to write. I felt all tense and wound up (that’s slowly relaxing and decompressing), and I thought about how I felt physically (I am full, and a little thirsty) and I thought about how it would feel physically to eat those things right now (I would be over-full and not really enjoy them). So, right now, this time, I am not eating those things in order to relax. Because I deserve my break with or without the accompaniment of “treats”.

Epilogue:
I was feeling extra tense writing my blog post today – I slept in too late to write this morning, got caught up in extra school business which stole writing time from my afternoon, and just felt too drained and surrounded by loud, questioning (but all the same interesting) 4-year olds to write when I got home. I just wanted some alone-in-a-bubble time.

And it’s worked! I can’t believe the difference in my mood starting writing vs my mood at the end of this post. I didn’t actually write about what I had been thinking I would write about all day (time, time management, etc.), but I guess I wrote about what I needed to write about.

Finally, that question remains, and it’s one I’m going to keep asking myself: “What am I feeding when I eat when I’m not hungry?”.

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