I am more stressed and sleep-deprived right now than I have ever been in my entire life. More than when my parents divorced. More than when I was scratching my way up the ladder in New York City. More than when I was writing my book and working a full time job at the same time. What’s going on? Kids, man! Kids!
Two of them, to be exact: A precocious 3.5-year-old aspiring ballerina/fairy/ princess, and a sweet, louder-than-bombs 11-month-old my husband and I like to call Lungs McGee. As most parents of young children know, this phase of parenting is no joke—and it is the reason I finally really, truly know the difference between stress eating and having a full-on binge.
I still consider myself recovered from B.E.D., but I’ll be the first to admit it to you folks: These past couple years, I have been stress-eating with the best of ’em. Jet-lagged from two cross-country work trips within 10 days? Have some ice cream. Exhausted from 9 months of never sleeping more than four hours at a time? Oh, look, there’s a brownie! Barely able to wheedle 20 minutes to yourself to shower? Hey, at least you can drive-thru for monster burritos for dinner. Just let the cheddar and lard soothe your frayed nerves. There there, now…that’s right…everything will be okay.
I’m sorry if that sounds flip to any of you who are in the thick of B.E.D. or other food and body struggles. Please know that I’m not poking fun. I just wanted to share that this experience has truly redefined for me what “normal,” non-disordered eating can look like. Because normal people stress-eat! Normal people overdo it once in awhile! Normal people sometimes find a bit of comfort in food—and for me, today, that is totally okay.
The key differences that I’ve noticed between these moments of stress-eating and the binges I used to have are these:
• I don’t feel a lack of control.
Despite the fact that my emotions are clearly dictating my food choices at times, I mostly feel as if I am choosing to eat what I eat, and the amounts I eat. When I was in the midst of a binge, I often felt absolutely powerless to stop eating—sometimes even feeling as if I was in a trance. Dissociated from my body.
• I don’t feel guilty or disgusted by myself.
Do I want to be eating better-quality food than I have been, for the love and support of my body and mind? Yes. But a key difference between now and, say, the way I felt in my mid-twenties and had B.E.D. is that I no longer equate my eating habits with my value as a person. I am still a strong, smart, courageous woman. I just eat a little crappier than I probably should.
What about you? Where are you in your journey to get sane about food?