Sunday, August 16, 2009

Analyzing the impulses

I weighed myself this morning...318 lb. Why am I up six pounds since yesterday? Because I ate a LOT of potato salad last night. Although I don't think I ate six pounds of it.

It was an impulsive choice. While I was making it, I allowed myself to have one hard-cooked egg. It was good, with the center still runny, just the way I like them. It was dinner time. I was hungry. I kept tasting the salad as I made it. Next I ate a few bites of undressed potatoes. And then when I scooped out the sour cream, I tasted that. And after everything was in the salad and it was all mixed, I tasted for seasoning...a big mounded tablespoon-sized taste. And another. By the time the salad got to the table, I was already full, but I had another serving, but smaller than an average portion. And I had fish. Then after dinner, with my stomach in pain, I put the leftover potato salad in a plastic bowl, put the lid on it, then cleaned out the serving bowl of the remaining dressing and salad bits.

I don't think a particular mood or thought pattern led me to the potato salad binge. I just smelled it all and the next thing I knew, I needed a cigarette!

I just googled "impulse eating" and found some tips on how to manage and avoid it.
  • Option 1 - drink a glass of water because I might be dehydrated. I don't think that was the case, because I'd already had 12 glasses of water by then.
  • Option 2 - chew gum. I actually like that one. I have sugar-free gum and forget to chew it. I got it to help tighten up my chin(s). If I pop a piece of gum in my mouth before cooking, I won't be so inclined to put anything else in there. Yes, definitely keeping gum in the kitchen.
  • Option 3 - do some deep breathing exercises. I was going to do that, but I forgot!
  • Option 4 - keep some chopped veggies around...I'm all out and I need to go shopping.
  • Option 5 - stop and consider the impulse and journal about it. Well, I'm not so sure I'm capable of that, of wrenching my mind away from the impulse and taking the time to consider it and write about it. I can do it here, now, away from the impulses, and I've never really thought about it before...I actually feel a physical feeling when the impulse to eat occurs.

I'm feeling it now. I feel tension rise up in my arms, through my shoulders, up from my gut into my chest. And I guess the impulse to eat is a response that helps manage that tension. I just had the impulse to go down to the kitchen to finish off that potato salad. The impulse switches from tension in my body to a desire for the potato salad. And now the impulse is centered in my chest. And I actually feel hunger pains, or what I have defined as hunger pains...and hollow feeling from my throat down through my chest (esophagus?) to my stomach. However, my stomach still feels physically full since last night and I don't really believe I'm hungry.

All these years I've been feeding my impulse to eat, and everytime I followed through on it, I reinforced it. I understand and accept that I used the impulse eating to manage my emotional state. So I've got my work cut out for me, because even if I lost all the excess weight, and even if I've changed so much in how and what I was eating, I know that I'd still gain it all back if I don't find a solution to the impulse eating.

The impulse to eat has no thought process connected to it. I'm not sure how I'm going to effect change. It's going to have to occur in the subconscious mind. So maybe the first thing to do is to imagine myself, every night before I go to bed, managing my impulses. Eating is not the only thing I do impulsively. I also shop impulsively. I'm thinking about it now and I'm experiencing the same anxiety in my body that I also feel when I eat impulsively.

Up until this moment, I've enjoyed and embraced my impulsive nature. Maybe not so much any longer. I think I valued my impulse nature because I connected it solely with my creativite nature. There are two types of creativity, impulse-directed and goal-directed. Impulse-directed creativity is the stuff that dreams are made off, it brings on the adrenalin rush. I not hard to see why that's fun. I actually rely on that to get me out of emotionally low moments. But then, if I'm feeling so low and I use my creativity to get out of my funk, isn't that more goal-directed creativity?

I digress...I don't think I'll be getting rid of my impulses any time soon. I can find out how to manage them when I need to, especially as they pertain to food and shopping.

(Damn, I want to go to Cost Plus so badly today!)

(And I still want the rest of that damn potato salad!)

(What should I do?)

Breathe...breathe...breathe...where's my gum...breathe

Wow, this was a helpful exercise today. I'm thinking about what it's going to feel like to be in control of my impulses, to be somewhat free from impulsive behaviors. It's very empowering!


Carmen said...

wondering if we've met before Georgia. Have you lived in Indonesia...visit Singapore for a conference / workshop with Robin Pascoe? Carmen

Principessa said...

Hey Carmen! You found me! -Geo

screaming fatgirl said...

I've found that "sampling" during food preparation can lead to loss of control. Part of the problem is that the very nature of sampling is breaking with good eating protocol. That is, you're not having a meal, you're "sneaking" in a few bites. Once you set the psychology in motion to "sneak" food, you're more likely to keep doing it. It's essentially the top of a slippery slope toward "cheating".

The best thing to do is make a rule not to sample while you prepare food and to walk away if you can't resist the urge. Walk away and drink a glass of water and remind yourself that you're at the top of a hill that leads somewhere you don't want to be.