Recovery is a Process

Recovery is a Process

Lately, I’ve been struggling more with my body image. It’s something I need to take time to surrender to God, but there are also issues I need to address.

My tendency is to be a chaotic eater. That’s where you want to be healthy, but live such a chaotic life that in the moment of ravenous hunger, you settle for whatever is closest and most readily available (fast food is a popular one). I also zone out with my food. I’ll be eating away and look down to realize it’s “suddenly” gone.

When my body image and eating issues start getting out of hand, I go to the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Their book has helped me tremendously in working through my emotional eating.

Lately, I’ve found myself fearing the idea of not having enough food or being left hungry. I think it may be because at my job I work at the front desk and don’t have the freedom to move around the building like my coworkers. If I have a need, oftentimes I have to put it off because of my responsibilities at the front. This could lead to me feeling trapped, so when it is time to eat, I feel like I have to over eat since I don’t know when my next opportunity will be. This is just a guess because I’ve been ignoring what I’ve been doing for a while.

Like the title of this blog says, recovery is a process. There’s no magic wand to swoop in and fix your problems. It’s a walk with God where you feel your pain, bring it to Him, and work through the pieces He brings to your attention. God is good to gently guide us through recovery one step at a time. I went through the Intuitive Eating book one time and experienced a release of food guilt that I’d been carrying around for a very long time. I think this time through, I’ll develop new and healthy habits when it comes to eating and food choice.

I’m excited about the possibilities, but am aware the process is not oftentimes easy. Eating is so tied in to our emotions on a subconscious level. I understand that my eating patterns serve as coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, boredom, and twisted ideas of pleasure.

So, here we go into the recovery process with food!

The Solution to Chaotic Eating

The Solution to Chaotic Eating

Routine in the chaos.

After realizing I had fallen into a chaotic eating routine, I evaluated my schedule and thought of ways to help stop the feeling of desperation and starvation that comes from long bouts of no food.

I planned snacks ahead of time and brought them to work. These snacks had plenty of protein in them to help push me through to the next meal. Also, even though I knew I wouldn’t be receiving an official meal break, I brought a meal anyways. I’d bring my work phone with me into the staff kitchen and would eat a couple of mouthfuls at a time. The important thing about eating intuitively, is being present. I would make myself pause and think about what I was eating. Did I like it? What didn’t I like about it? What were the flavors? This causes you to be in the present moment with your food and to not stress eat.

By bringing protein-oriented snacks and forcing myself to take mini breaks to complete one meal, I was able to kick that desperate feeling that drives even the healthiest desires through the drive-thru at the end of a work day. It takes some discipline upfront, but it’s worth it.

Work is important to pay the bills, but your mental and physical health are important, as well. It’s hard to do the best you can with a fuzzy mind and fatigued body. Although it might be looked down upon in your busy schedule to stop for a meal or a snack, ultimately, your work team will appreciate it because you will be able to operate at your best. Your body will also thank you because it won’t be operating under potential starvation mode.

The Perils of Chaotic Eating

The Perils of Chaotic Eating

To all my chaotic eating friends, welcome.

If you don’t know if you’re a chaotic eater, let me give a quick definition for you. Chaotic eating is not to be confused with the greater issue of stress eating. While it does involve your emotions, chaotic eating comes from a lack of routine.

If you have busy days with long hours, you probably have a good idea of where I’m coming from. This year, my job has been demanding with a lack of breaks for meals or a time frame of when work begins and ends. A day can turn into eight hours of constant movement and putting out of fires. This is sabotage for a recovering chaotic eater.

Here’s a look into my worst day: I wake up for work and I’m running late. There’s hardly enough time to get ready, much less think about breakfast. I sacrifice coffee and breakfast for time to get out of the door and into the car for work. I arrive at work and get everything set up for the day. My boss arrives, we have our morning meeting, and I’m in my chair beginning the daily checklist of responsibilities. The phone is ringing, people are giving me projects, and I’m slowly accomplishing my normal tasks in the background of all the distractions. A few hours into work, it dawns on me that I have not had anything to drink or eat since I woke up.

I make myself some coffee, get some water, and regret not bringing anything from home to eat. I settle for a cookie from our waiting area in the office. So, by mid-morning, my body is running on sugar and caffeine.

The day runs long and my mind begins to fade. We don’t have breaks due to the work schedule. I feel fatigued due to lack of food and a small headache is forming. Thoughts of what I’m going to eat when I get home creep through my mind.

As the end of the work day nears, I’m desperately hungry. Anything will do at this point. I can’t think straight. I’m starving and now thinking of crispy, crunchy, salty things. And I need them now. I’m too tired to cook and I don’t think I can wait to eat by the time I get home. I’ll die.

I finally get out of work and speedily head towards my car. I’m on my way home but am now famished. Forget cooking, forget waiting until I get home – that fast food place looks pretty good. I’ll just grab a snack to help me make it to dinner… or, I’ll get the combo with a Dr. Pepper, thank you very much.

I receive my crispy, crunchy, salty food gift I’d been dreaming about at work and shove it in my mouth. I’m halfway done by the time I get back on the road. As I arrive home, I’m stuffed, feel disgusting, and can hardly remember what I ate.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is chaotic eating.

Part Two: My Solution to a Very Specific Problem