Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Finding the underlying issue behind eating patterns

When it comes to my eating patterns, in particular bingeing, there are several factors that come into play.   I tend to look at flour and sugar as the bad guys, triggering a neurochemical response that causes me to sometimes lose control and continue to eat way past the point of fullness.   However, something that is important to note is that sugar/flour sometimes cause me to eat to excess.   There are certainly times where I am able to consume these things without any craving or need to binge afterward.  It then seems inappropriate to look at them as the root of the problem, when there is another variable at play.  Sure, sugar can trigger a binge, but what is it that is causing me to have that response at certain times, while other times it doesn't?

I think it goes back to my emotional health and level of stress at the moment.  This weekend I was out of town visiting family.  One day, I had some pie for dessert, and then literally had a chocolate bar thrown at me, which I certainly ate.  I was able to stop after that and go to bed without much of an issue.   The day after, I ate lots of sweets throughout the day, and come evening had a massive binge on chocolates and other sweet things that was completely out of control.

So what was the difference between these two days?   These are potential explanations for the day of the binge:

  • I had eaten sugar consistently throughout the day, before the binge began
  • A particularly stressful/emotional day was coming up, and I didn't want to think about it
  • I was alone at night watching TV
  • I had consumed large quantities of caffeine during the day
I think stress is a huge factor here.  The upcoming day was something I was very concerned about, and when I'm worried about something I try to completely forget about it.  A binge is probably a way of helping me to avoid dealing with whatever is going on.  Not a very helpful method, but maybe at certain times I just don't know how to deal with things any other way.

What I think is important for me to learn is that sugar is not the root of the problem.  It triggers a reaction, sometimes, but the reason for this is deeper.  Simply getting rid of sugar and not dealing with the emotional issues that cause the binge is not solving the problem.   In a sense, a binge is sending me a message that there is something that needs to be dealt with.  I can avoid sugar for the rest of my life, but if I continue to be unable to manage my stress levels, am I really solving anything?

Learning to manage my stress may be the best thing I can do for myself.  By getting to the root of the problem, the symptoms can fall away on their own.  This sounds nice in theory, but managing stress is easier said than done.  I wish the problem was food itself, it would be easier to solve, but I need to start looking at myself and working on changing my habits and thought patterns if I'm going to find peace of mind.  I plan to explore different tools I can use to do this, rather than focusing only on the foods that I eat.

No comments:

Post a Comment