I Gave Myself a Year to Eat a What I Wanted and I Went Overboard.
Grief and Emotional Eating
It started innocently enough. I had a very stressful couple of years. My business wasn’t doing well, we were having housing challenges and I could not find a traditional job. I did enjoy a couple of cheat days, but then I decided I would allow myself to eat what I wanted, within reason.
Knowing I spent years recovering from a gluten-induced illness, I knew I would not overload on glutenous foods. However, I did eat more than usual.
At first it started with what I call Ancestral Foods. I would think about my Elders before me as I cooked hearty foods that were traditional to my family during my childhood. I made more Succotash, but dismissed it as making it more “healthy,” which it was. Then for me the unthinkable happened.
When I heard the news that my favorite aunt passed away, I felt devastated. Though the doctors told her she had 6 months to live, I had researched countless stories of people who beat those odds. I just knew that she might. My aunt passed away 6 months after the doctors told her she would.
I told myself my aunt was no longer in pain, she was happy now that she was no longer in her body. I missed her terribly however. I processed my grief through countless Facebook posts. I thought about everything I could’ve done differently, “I wish I had visited more, called more,” etc. I also allowed myself to grieve through my old past time, “emotional eating.”
I thought that my years of training, love for healthier foods and discipline would help me to be more mindful. I told myself I knew what I was doing. The reality was, though I knew what I was doing, I continued to eat more and say to myself, “This will be it for this week.”
I treated my son to a little more pizza. I would treat myself to that extra burrito and/or nachos claiming a cheat day.
When I realized I was gaining weight, I thought my indulgence was my opportunity to gain back the thickness I valued during my 20’s. I noticed my clothes fitting a little differently, but I was actually happy to see the return of my thicker body that I had missed after going gluten-free.
After a year passed, I decided to jump back into my healthier living. I decided to indulge in a weekly cheat day, but would stick to my strict gluten-free, free-range, all organic lifestyle. I got more troubling news however.
I got a text that a cousin I grew up around, more like my childhood “Sister Cousin,” was ill and in the hospital. Even though I detested hospital visits, something told me to visit her immediately. I could not even recognize the woman laying in the bed. I felt confused as just a couple months prior I had asked her if she was alright. She did not respond.
I stayed with her in the hospital, held her hand, prayed, asked her what she wanted. I asked if she was ready to go, or if she wanted to stay. I squeezed her hand and told her I would support her decision. I left the hospital and she passed that night. She was only a few years older than I.
Everyone experienced a tremendous amount of grief. Instead of jumping up and telling relatives I could help, I kept more quiet than usual. I continued to work, driving for a rideshare company, but then felt a little off.
I started eating out more. My son loved it, he loved eating at local restaurants. I loved supporting small businesses, the local economy, and of course good food. I knew I was spending more money than usual, but I just did not have the energy to cook.
One day I looked in the mirror, grabbed my bulging belly and declared out loud, “I’m fat!” My son said, “You’re not fat mom!” The power of unconditional love is beautiful. My reply, “ Yes honey, I’ve gained weight and I don’t feel good about my body.” That’s the key, I didn’t feel good.
Before I knew it, my pants started bursting when I sneezed. People celebrated my non-existent pregnancy, which actually was a bulging belly people felt the need to smile, stick out their hands and ask, “When are you due?” The fun part occurred when my face dropped and then theirs when I declared, “I’m not pregnant!”
Let me be straight, as a Holistic Nutrition Educator I know for a fact a lot of what I grew up with was toxic. We consumed way too much processed foods with white flour, white sugars, and an over consumption of fat. Diabetes, Type I and Type II run rampant in both sides of my family. I thought because of my education and my dedication to having a different result allowed me to stray a little. I did not think the way I ate would get out of control after 10+ years of eating extremely healthy.
I do not believe in diets, I believe in making steps towards a sustainable change that will last for the individual person. I do not believe a thin person is more healthy than a large person as we all have different body compositions.
What I realized was that I had gotten to a place were I was not comfortable in my own body. I loved the thickness of some areas, but in others I felt bloated, cranky, and very unhappy. The test came when I got on a scale that I do not believe is the determining factor for perfect health, but thought I would check anyway. I saw that I was 20 pounds “overweight.” I could not dismiss the weight as more muscle from me working out more, as I have been working out less.
I reflected on the day I was preparing for a networking meeting and put on one of my favorite dresses, and I looked grossly overweight. I couldn’t even get the dress off. I looked at myself and realized I had to make a change.
Nearly 2 years has passed since I made the decision to eat what I wanted. I thought by giving into indulgences that I would be okay. Life stressors overcame me and I went overboard. I do not blame myself, and I absolutely have not berated myself. I have however reminded myself that I have the option of being completely unhealthy or shifting into a better sense of health for me.
Rather than a massive shift like I initially did when going gluten-free, I decided to go easy on myself. I started to add more raw, alkaline foods into my eating plan.
I started by eating a baked sweet potato alongside raw kale. I massaged the kale and squeezed a little fresh lemon.
Another day I made fresh cabbage and ate it along leftover homemade beef fried rice.
Tomorrow I’ll make a raw cabbage salad with freshly squeezed grapefruit as the dressing. As the days pass, I’ll add more raw alkaline foods like avocados, pumpkin seeds, and more.
I do not plan on giving up meat anytime soon, per my body chemistry, however raw fruits and veggies will dominate my meals.
For me it’s not about the numbers on the scale. It’s about my age, how I feel when I exercise and how my clothes fit. I can be a little more thick and be healthy, it’s when my clothes don’t fit and I’m out of breath after walking up the stairs that demonstrates a clear problem.
I’m happy that I gave myself time to relax and grieve using comfort foods. I do acknowledge that I went way too far and now I’m experiencing the consequences. Fortunately, I’m still healthy and am making the necessary shifts to move forward to my greater sense of health and well-being.
Before making any major shifts in your eating plan, it’s always best to consult a competent healthcare professional who specializes in nutrition.