So I've been thinking, pondering, dreaming about, discussing, and deciding why I need food so much. Despite all the negative outcomes and feelings, food is always right there by my side. Why? I think it might break down to this:
What does food do for me?
1. It alleviates pain, fear, and discomfort. In the show I've been watching, Addicted to Food, the counselors relate that a lot of over-eaters are avoiding trauma and long-time pain. We all have pain and our ways of dealing with it. I don't mean this in a I-had-a-fight-with-someone-so-go-eat-a-donut kind of way. I honestly don't do that. No, it's much more subtle. For instance, in a social situation, I want so desperately to fit in and be social, but I feel awkward and out-of-place. I'm unhappy. The solution? Take a chip and look busy munching on it. In my brain it says, "See? I've having fun, I belong here." In the show, they portray food addiction, or any addiction for that matter, as a close hug that we turn to for comfort. I can see that in myself. If I am feeling tired, or down, sad, lonely, etc. food is right there, willing to be my best friend and make me feel better.
2. It transports me away from reality. I am an expert at escaping myself and my reality. Ever since I can remember, or somewhere around third grade, I've imagined and invented and fantasized about a different reality. A realm of distinct good and evil (I'm the good, of course) where I am a different person. If this seems weird, then think of it as a sort of Beyonce reinventing herself as Sasha Fierce kind of thing. I've always imagined the imaginary me as a mythic heroine: she's beautiful (and thin), powerful, confident, intelligent and perceptive, unafraid, and in other words, many of the things I'm not. Food is just another escape. It transports and transcends me into something that feels pure and happy. So, for example, those dreaded Friday Treats at work. Why are they so hard to resist? Because by then in the week, I'm tired and stressed and in general discomfort. Enter food and it takes me away for however the briefest moment, I'm some other blissful place.
3. It enhances an already okay experience into pleasure. Take any good thing--like a date night--and add food for instant extra-goodness.
4. It relieves boredom. I saved this one for last because it is huge. I think it may be one of the major, over-all, catch-all reasons for why I eat. I want something to do. I get tired of the overall routine of life. Rather than join a club or something (part of the problem is that I don't know WHAT to do), I decide I want something to eat. Instant pleasure and action. That's why going to the gym last week when I wanted ice-cream was an acceptable alternative. I certainly wasn't hungry. But I wanted action of some sort---so obviously, ice-cream, right?
Dear reader, you might be wondering at the obviousness of all these reasons, and yet I tell you that I am having a small series of revelations this week. It's like a paradigm shift in my head. I'm not eating because I'm a bad person. It's not because I'm just disgusting and lack self-control. It's not because there is really something wrong with me. It's because I'm getting some very powerful things out of that food. To put it simply, it makes me feel better than any of the negative consequences. It makes me feel pleasure. It makes me feel.
Now the real work is figuring out how to separate the food from the living. I think I wrote somewhere in this blog that food is life. But maybe that's a huge part of the problem. Life is life. Food is just sustenance. Maybe. I'm still working it all out, but let me know if you have any insights. What is the role of food in life?