Food is No Longer the Fix To My FeelingsMarch 13, 2017
I have never been a physical person when upset or angry. I didn’t have to be because I turned to food. When things weren’t going well, food was my coping mechanism, my comfort, my go to.
For years, whenever I got into a disagreement with my family or anyone, I would get in my car and go into town. The first strip mall that I would pass had a Bulk Barn. The Bulk Barn is a store with all kinds of bulk food: flour, nuts, and my favorites - chocolate and candy. I would regularly go there and get myself a stash of candy. When I say stash, it wasn’t just a couple of pieces; it was a lot more than an average sized bag you get from the store.
Food As My Way To Cope With Life
Eating chocolate and candy was how I coped with the stress of life. I guess in a sense, I was beating myself up, but from the inside out. And the more I knew I shouldn’t be having that stuff, the more I convinced myself that was the only way to feel better. Wow, that is such a wrong way to cope with things. Even though at the time I knew it wasn’t good for me, I didn’t dwell on it, nor did I take any action to stop doing it.
My way of enjoying life was sitting around eating chips and junk food. With my coping mechanism of chocolate and candy, and enjoying life with chips and junk food, it all added up –rapidly. Fast forward a few years, and I had ballooned up like a hippo.
I had lost the will and drive to even think about trying to lose weight. It felt insurmountable to me. In fact, the more that people told me to lose weight, the more I turned to food to make myself feel better. Again, a cycle of “feel bad, eat food - feel bad, eat food!”
After an injury, I was unable to work and began having marital problems. How did I deal with those emotional issues? With the comfort of chips, candy, and chocolate, I dealt with the disappointment and hurt. Although at this point, something clicked for me that was different. A light went off in my head that changed my life. I came to the realization that I needed help. Not only did I need help with my weight but with my mind as well.
Being mentally prepared before surgery has helped me achieve my goals today. I no longer turn to food as a coping mechanism.
Food Isn't The Fix To My Feelings, What I Do Now
- Don’t have it – won’t eat it. This has to be the most important rule of thumb for me. By not allowing the “junk food” into my house, I don’t have the urge to turn to it if/when something goes wrong.
- Get up and exercise. Don’t sit there hoping that whatever the issue is will go away on its own. I focus on the “new” me and that means staying fit. Not just my body needs to be fit, but my mind as well. If I can’t make it to the gym, then I go for a walk around the block a few times. It allows my mind to stay focused and free.
- Think ahead – be prepared. So many times in the past I would be out somewhere, usually in my car, when I needed a coping mechanism such as food. I would turn to the nearest store to buy junk food. Now, I have learned that by keeping a protein bar in my car (some women keep 1 or 2 in their purses), I have something that is better for me if needed.
- Talk it out. When something is wrong, I have found that talking about it makes it a lot easier to cope with. With the support of my family, I am able to express my concerns. If it is a bit more WLS related that family doesn’t really understand, then I go to my support group. Having a support group, either in person or online is a great way to relate to others in your situation.
- Look back to move forward. Remind yourself of how far you have come. The process didn’t start with surgery; you had to prepare for a long time before that. No matter how far into this you are, you are already a success. Making the effort to go through this shows you that the willpower is there; sometimes we need to look back to the beginning to realize it. I like to remind myself that I have come a long way from sitting around eating chips, chocolate, and candy. I am a success!
- Food is my friend, not my foe. Like many people, I love food! But it is the type of food that I eat now that I love. Before surgery, my comfort was eating anything that I didn’t have to think about preparing, such as fast food, packaged food and anything I could hide in my pocket. Now, I love food for what it does for me. It is my fuel that keeps me going. It is my happy place when I want to be creative. I am in no way a fancy Chef, but I do love cooking with new foods and trying so many things that I never did before. I never thought that this surgery would allow me to be so happy about food.
Living without food as a comfort or a coping mechanism isn’t always easy. It does take some thought. But it is the thought of enjoying my new healthier life that reinforces the need to keep on track.
Photo Credit: Random Retail
ABOUT THE AUTHORSkotti Erb had RNY surgery on July 7, 2015. With the help of the surgery, he has lost just over 200 pounds. He is an active member of his local WLS support group. Skotti is also a member of the WLS community on YouTube, and has a weekly vlog. Skotti's success has given him the encouragement to help others who are about to have, or have had weight loss surgery.