I am very overweight and have been for most of my life.
I have been lucky to be able to access some eating disorder counselling, as my current Mind counsellor is training at National Centre of Eating Disorders
We have completed a Weight Life Chart, where we have looked at key events over my life and how they relate to my weight. I can see that food has played a big part in my life and clearly I use it to try and improve my mood and cope by binge eating bad food at the end of the day. Food has signified good times for me during my life.
I complete weekly food diaries (most of the time) which include what, where and how I have eaten and general commentary on the day. You can download a version of a My Anxiety Food Diary
I have found that this all relates closely to my mental health and has helped as general therapy too.
The key points that I have learnt so far are:
- I use food as a reward and way to relax. I turn to food when I am stressed and unhappy, as a way to try and cheer my self up and feel better.
- I did not eat breakfast and tended to start eating at lunchtime or early afternoon, but would often not eat until the evening, when I had done everything I felt I had to do for the day.
- I have been trying to eat breakfast and then regularly during the day to maintain my blood sugar levels.
- I have been trying to learn to recognise when I am (really) hungry rather than wanting food for comfort.
I have now learnt and made a breakthrough for myself over the relationship with binge eating food, often takeaways and sweets in the evening and the impact that has on my stomach and specially bowels the next day, together with feeling very ill and trapped in the house because of my bowels, I have now on three occasions, considered my urge to binge in the evening to celebrate getting through the day and relaxing, against the impact of how I will be/feel the next day and decided against certain foods that I like(d) and that will make me ill, i.e. considering the medium term impact against the short term immediate gratification of binge eating.
I am getting better at focusing on being well the next day and enjoying/doing things against immediate gratification. It is not easy and I have slipped, I have still had a takeaway but changed the type of food, e.g. a burger and chips rather than a kebab which makes me ill, whilst reducing quantities, 1 burger not 2. Not then eating more, because I have started, with ice cream and chocolate. This has been a habit/comfort for many years and I recognise I will take some time to change my thinking and behaviour.
Eating in the morning, is getting easier, I often have seeded brown toast with marmalade or porridge or scrambled egg. I do feel better when I have eaten, but still find eating when I have something that I am anxious about impossible, with time, this will change
The most noticeable impact is my bowels, I don’t have to stay close to the loo for multiple bowel movements and sometimes now go to the toilet in the afternoon and once in the morning. When I have eaten well and regularly I feel well the next day, am motivated and energetic, when I binge eat in the evening I generally feel ill the next day.
I am eating better, less meat more fish, more vegetables and salad, lower quantities and reducing my wheat intact, which definitely upsets my bowels,
I am struggling with fizzy drinks, I have been using zero calorie Pepsi Max to get my sweet hit, but that has Aspartame in it and I have read this is not good.
All in all I am really pleased with my progress and can see the impact/benefit, now I just have to work on many years of bad habits and keep working on it. I am very grateful to my counsellor for giving me the opportunity to: do this, learn and understand my relationship with food better and change the: way, what and reasons why I eat.
I’ll keep you posted.