Does my mood affect my eating or does my eating affect my mood?

I’ve been feeling really good this last week or so.

Exercising regularly, eating well without crazy restriction and very minimal sugar. Whenever I’m on the high road I always wonder how long it is going to last. Work has been going really well, compared to my last job from a few months ago it is awesome.

I am also just in a really good mood. All the time. Which is great, but how long will it last?

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I know this isn’t going to last and I’ve previously posted, I think, about maintaining all these positive things when things stop going well.

I don’t even know how to break down or identify when things start to go down, or even why.

Sometimes I think it’s because I stop exercising, which affects my endorphins which affects my sleep and it starts the downward cycle.

Other times I think it has something to do with my eating. Either eating a lot of processed food or sugar that affects my mood, or maybe it’s more biological than that and affects my gut. I’ve read about the link between gut health and depression. Not that I’m depressed but there is clearly a link there and I wish I knew what came first.

Does my mood affect my eating or does my eating affect my mood?

In all likelihood it is both.

So continuing this path of acceptance and self-love that I talked about in my previous post, I guess all I can do is recognise that I will go up and down. Things are never always going to be great and accepting that is a good thing. I’ve struggled a lot with quite extreme black and white thinking in the past and it’s a tough thought pattern to break.

Onward and upward xx

 

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All you need is…

I need to lose weight.

I hate saying that but if I am completely honest with myself it is true.

It feels uncomfortable saying that for so many reasons.

A big reason is that I have spent so much of my adult life beating myself up over everything and body image is huge for me. I have struggled with binge eating which started because of an isolated traumatic experience and a habit formed that I couldn’t let go. It was compounded further by feelings of inadequacy, striving for perfectionism and black and white thinking.

Saying that I need to lose weight also feels uncomfortable because I am so very very supportive of the body positive movement. I am very aware of the pressure being placed on people – it used to be women, but I think now it’s everyone – to have the perfect body.

But I don’t want to write about the body positive movement, this is my blog and today I’m writing about me. I know I need to lose weight because I have slowly but steadily been putting on weight throughout my adult life. I have just crossed in to dangerous territory where regular shop clothes are starting to not fit. Not every where, but there’s a lot of places that I used to shop in and now I avoid those stores because it’s been so long since anything has fit.

I have just crossed in to dangerous territory where regular shop clothes are starting to not fit.

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I also have a lot of clothes in my wardrobe that I want to fit into again.

Another reason that I want to lose weight is my health. I don’t have the energy I used to – I still do everything I want but I know my general health will be improved if I lighten up a bit.

I also – and I hate to admit this – but I found a fucking stretch mark! The horror! All you women out there – especially you mums, this is not a pregnancy stretch mark. This is a, I’ve put weight on and now it’s affecting my body in ways that I don’t want to admit, stretch mark. And no, I’m not a teenager so this is not about my body just growing up. Insert a big long sigh here.

So I’m short, I’m getting older (late thirties) and I know that it will just get harder for me to lose weight.

I see so many friends just set their mind to losing weight, and they do it. 10kgs – sure no problem! 20kgs – yep, I’ve got this! But me, with my not so distant history of binge eating struggles a bit more to lose weight. I’m sure it’s a combination of what’s going on in my head and what I’ve done to my body slash metabolism means that I find it very hard to lose weight.

So getting back to the point of this blog entry. I do have one.

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All you need is love.

This is a fairly new thing for me. I’m not in love, I’m as single as they come. I’m pretty happy too, although the self love thing is what I don’t have much of. But I’m trying to hold on to it. It’s working. I recently read an article about this lovely woman who lost like 100kgs who realised that you can’t create something positive from a place of negativity.

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I’ve been trying to practice some self love and when I do, when I have compassion and kindness and all things nice, it works. I don’t struggle with my eating. I don’t struggle with procrastination. I’m more likely to see the good in other people and in myself.

Looking after myself and eating healthy food and exercising comes a lot easier when I am doing it from a place of kindness and not because I feel like shit. You know what I used to say to myself. I used to say that I sucked at life. That is so harsh. If ever I heard a friend talking like that I would be shocked and tell them how wonderful they are if only they could see themselves how others did.

I used to say that I sucked at life.

I wonder why it’s so hard for some people and not for others? I imagine some people would read this and think I was completely stating the obvious.

So there you go, all you need is love. Love. Love is all you need.

Been busy, but I’m back

Wow, it’s been ages since my last post.

The time has flown; it’s been a busy few weeks. I can’t believe we’re so close to Christmas.

The last month has been good. I’ve had some really fun events with family and friends. And my work is going really well.

But that’s not really what I wanted to write about.

I wanted to write about health and bingeing and all the other things I always focus on. The bingeing has been okay, not fantastic but certainly not that bad. I’ve started to think about my bingeing habits as low level and high level. I define high level as that totally out of control, will eat anything around teamed with extreme negative thoughts. Even though it is about it being a large amount of food, it’s more about how out of control I feel.

I haven’t had any high level binges in more than a month. That’s a good thing and I’m proud of myself for that.

But my low level bingeing is still there. Maybe some people would say that I’m not bingeing that I’m just overeating. But I know that it’s bingeing. Sometimes it’s like I don’t think about what I’m doing. These binges typically go the same way. I’m usually at the supermarket, I might be walking around with a basket or a trolley and I go down the confectionary or snack aisle and mindlessly through a couple of things in the trolley. I still look at what I throw in. I check out what is on sale. But I never stop and think (like I always say I will). I don’t know what it is. Sometimes I know that I do the thing that I should never do – go shopping when I’m hungry. But that’s not always the reason.

I always tell myself that that will be the last time. But it’s not. I do it a couple of times a week.

So these low level binges then end up with me at home, sometimes wanting the binge food and sometimes not. But I already have it at home so I eat it. Sometimes I will polish off a large packet of chips, or a chocolate block (usually the Lindt ones, so they are big, but actually only a bit bigger than a Cadbury individual chocolate block….man, I sound like I am justifying this).

I don’t usually finish things off in one go. But I always start on the food as soon as I get home, but after thinking why did I even buy this stuff?

I get so frustrated in myself.

I’ve been doing this about once a week, sometimes twice a week.

It’s not enough to have caused me to put on weight. Yet. Because I still eat really healthy food for most of the time. But it has made it impossible to lose weight.

I’ve also been struggling with some negative thoughts – maybe it’s the holiday season.

Major stuff up today

The day started off okay. I went out for lunch with friends, had a couple of glasses of wine. Then I stopped at the shops on my way home. I should have just gone straight home, there was nothing I needed to get that couldn’t wait.

I don’t know what came over me. I kept on putting item after item in my shopping basket. Food that I didn’t need: chips, popcorn, chocolate and biscuits.

When I got home I picked at everything, but I didn’t finish anything.

Initially I had this weird excitement, and then when I started eating I just didn’t want it and felt awful. But I kept on picking at it.

It didn’t go as long as some binges. I started with one item. Then would stop. Then I’d start again with the next item.

Even after the first couple of bites I realised I didn’t want it. But I didn’t stop straight away.

I still have the food sitting on my kitchen table. I’ve put it into a plastic bag. I know if I keep it in the house I risk eating it later tonight or tomorrow. I’m going to throw it in the rubbish bin outside.

I feel sick and awful.

Yes

Yesterday was an incredibly stressful day at work. It was demanding and by the end of the day I was totally drained and exhausted. I just wanted to go home and veg on the couch.

Days like that are usually big triggers for bingeing.

But last night not only did I not binge, but bingeing never even popped into my mind.

There was no conscious effort to avoid bingeing….at all.

It was only this morning when I was reflecting on the stress the day before that I realised.

It feels like a win. A big win actually.

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When is a binge a binge?

Last night I got home from working absolutely hanging for a big, delicious green smoothie. So I made a big batch and it was delish. It was also quite filling. Although I had my dinner planned I found that the smoothie filled me up so much, I wasn’t hungry for my dinner. So, trying to listen to my hunger signals better, I didn’t have what I planned for dinner, I just ate something lighter a bit later in the evening.

After that, I was still a bit peckish so I started munching on some dates. I had a small bag with maybe about a dozen in there. I had planned to only have a few of them. But I polished off the whole bag.

The first thing I thought was ‘oh man, I’ve just binged on those dates’.

I’ve done that recently too where I had more of a snack than I planned, or went back for some seconds after dinner.

I always think ‘I’ve binged again’. And with that comes the usual guilt, shame, negativity, etc.

But, wait a second. I think I’m turning into my own worst enemy.

If this was three months ago an actual binge would be a huge bag of potato chips (crisps) and chocolate, biscuits or some junk like that. It would be a real binge, all eaten in the one sitting.

I remember reading somewhere that a binge is defined as “uncontrolled, impulsive, continuous eating, well past the period of feeling full, eating quickly and losing control”.

So, was me eating 12 dates a binge? I think not.

Does anyone else do this? Blur the line between slightly over eating or snacking and bingeing?

Maybe in some ways it’s a good thing that I define this as a binge because I’ll be more aware of it in the future and maybe put a handful of dates in a separate bowl rather than eat out of the bag.

If too many snacks or dinner seconds become “acceptable” (using the term loosely here) then am I at risk of doing more compulsive snacking or overeating and in my mind justifying that it’s okay because I’m not bingeing?

I don’t think there is a right answer. Or if there is I don’t know what it is.

Although the last couple of weeks have not been perfect, they’ve been a lot better than the weeks or months before them. What has made a difference is that I have said to myself that I will not count calories, I will not diet or restrict, I will eat healthy food, I will not binge, if I want chocolate and I really actually want it not just crave the sweetness then I will buy a small amount. I will eat for health and wellness.

 

Overcoming negative thoughts

Today was an okay day. Work was okay. My food intake was pretty good. But I felt down and that led me to feel a bit negative. I don’t know what I felt like that today, but it got me thinking about negative thoughts.

I guess partially this has been put in my head by the Quit Binge Eating podcasts I’ve been listening to. I think it resonates with me a little bit. Maybe it’s because I binge eat? Maybe it’s just human nature to have negative thoughts once in a while? I don’t know.

I’m generally a pretty positive and happy person. When I have my negative or ‘feeling down’ moments they are not overwhelming. I am not depressed, but that’s not what I’m talking about anyway.

It’s those little voices in your head. Today my motivation at work was awful – it took me ages to get through tasks that should have only taken a couple of hours. Usually if I can’t get something done or my motivation is lacking, I drop it and go back to it later. But today I wasn’t motivated to do that. I kept working on the same thing really slowly.

With binge eating when those negative thoughts start they would usually lead me to the fridge or the cupboard. When I got back from work that’s the first thing I did. I stared into the fridge looking for something even though I wasn’t particularly hungry. So I took a breath, shut the fridge and went for a walk. My head is a bit clearer and I feel a bit better, but those nagging thoughts are still there.

It’s hard to describe what I mean by my ‘negative thoughts’. It is not an actual voice that is negative. It is non-specific. It’s just this general feeling of ‘I can’t be bothered’, ‘what’s the point’ or ‘who cares’. I feel good that I was able to get some clarity and not just dive into the fridge. I’ve had moments where I just get home from work and maybe have a glass of wine and eat (whether I binge or not) and my evening is a write-off.

Writing this blog helps too, even though today I feel like I’m a bit all over the place.

So in this blog and in the Brain over Binge book they talk about neural pathways in our brains that lead us to act or think like we have in the past. These neural pathways have been used so much they have a path beaten into them. It’s not that we’re forced to use the path; it’s just what comes natural. I guess it’s like forming new habits. It takes time and for a while it seems unnatural, but eventually it happens if you keep at it.

I’ve been thinking about my negative thoughts and binge eating thoughts with this mind frame. The thoughts are there, but I don’t need to let them take over or affect me.

I decide what is good for me, what I do, how I feel and what I put in my mouth. Even typing that makes me feel better.

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