Why I overeat

Apologies in advance, but (much like the last one) I think this post is going to be another stream of consciousness jobby. I had no clue where my post was going last time and that turned out to be a good thing as my ‘problem’ with my drink wasn’t actually what I thought it was going to be.

The latest chapter I’ve re-read in Beyond Temptation is all about why you overeat. Now the problem is that I really don’t know why I overeat. I expect the reasons vary from circumstance to circumstance. Well the voice in my head says that I overeat because I’m greedy, lazy, pathetic and worthless. The book says that this reason is a myth. But there’s that little voice popping up again saying “Oh I’m sure most people who overeat are lovely and not at all greedy and have good reason to overeat. But I’m different…I really am greedy”. Hmmm. Guess that would be my gremlin at work wouldn’t it? Another couple of chapters before I start looking at her properly. But, be warned, missy, your time is coming!

I think greediness is maybe sometimes why I overeat. Sometimes the food just tastes too good to not have it. I mean, there has to be a reason so many people overeat on crisps, cake, chocolate, pizza, chips, biscuits and so on. It’s usually the high fat, high sugar, high salt, processed type of foods. And we eat those because they are convenient and they taste good. Do many overeaters binge on vegetables? Outside of being on a diet plan which allows them as ‘free’ food?

The main reason I overeat is out of habit. I’ve done it for so long that not doing it seems almost alien. Overeating for me isn’t usually directly caused by specific feelings or situations (maybe indirectly sometimes) but by opportunity. Overeating is my ‘dirty little secret’ if you like. DH knows I do it, but probably not the extent. But not my family or my friends, other than the vague faux-jovial comments of “I eat far too much chocolate” or “you know I never refuse cake!” and the like. But it’s general done in secret. So, overeating for me tends to occur when I’m alone. When X was a baby, I used to graze half the day long as I was at home alone (not counting an oblivious newborn). Of course, he’s nearly three now. Not oblivious at all and if I’m eating vast quantities of sugary, fatty foods in his presence then he wants them too. So, whilst he is far from banned from having those foods, my overeating tends to be saved for when he naps. I kind of dread the day the naps stop!! The second he’s asleep and we’re through the door into the house, the kettle goes on for me to make some tea to go with my snacks. Half of the time, I’ve eaten it all, quickly, mindlessly, before the kettle boils. I tell myself I’ll have one doughnut while the kettle boils and sit down with the other. But suddenly the second one is gone without me even realising. Day in, day out this happens.

X started pre-school in April. Only two half-days but it’s another four hours a week I’m home alone and have the opportunity to overeat. Weekends are trickier. I have to create opportunities to be alone to indulge as, even at nap time, DH will be there. I’ll ‘helpfully’ offer to be the one to pop out to the supermarket to buy something for dinner. And then I’ll eat two chocolate bars on the three minute walk home (yes, we’re that close!). I hate it and yet I sometimes feel like I’ll explode if I don’t do it. Of course, I accept that, medically speaking, spontaneous combustion is actually unlikely.

So, yes, it’s habit. Whenever I’m alone. It’s not because I don’t like being alone. I enjoy that time to myself. Enjoy that time to blog, read , Tweet or generally piddle about on the internet. Maybe it helps me block the guilt that I’m not doing something more ‘productive’ (whether that’s housework or some kind of creative or active hobby). It’s part of who I have been for so long that it’s really hard for me to imagine what life is like without it. I don’t want it in my life but it’s hard to think I could exist without it. I guess it was a coping mechanism when I was a teenager and now it’s just habit. I don’t even need the triggers anymore. Some of the things that were true of my life then and that I felt needed to be ‘coped’ with are still true; some aren’t. But the overeating habit remains. Alone time = overeating time. I think that as a teenager I was very lonely when I was alone (and this was back before the internet and smartphones and the like to waste my time with) and had no hobbies or interests. I binged to take away the loneliness and the misery. I’m not lonely any more (still miserable sometimes and lacking in hobbies/interests though) but I still use that time to overeat. Even if I’m doing something else as well…the idea of not using alone time to overeat is quite strange. Guess I’m going to have to do some more experimenting.

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