I’ve been thinking about this ever since Jill’s blog entry the other day, which coincided with my cookie problem (read the comments under Jill’s entry if you want the details of my ‘cookie problem.) Almost at the same time Vickie shared this note from her therapist:
“ED (Eating Disordered) Individuals do not have coping mechanisms. Use ED to cope. This* is how you know an ED individual is under stress.”
That statement really resonated with me, and struck me as true. I wondered what ‘normal’ people turn to in times of stress. And can we learn to replace cookies with whatever that is when we are stressed. But here’s what really occurred to me. I think most of us (Eating Disordered people) aren’t even very good at identifying that we are under stress. We eat the cookies and never even identify that maybe the consumption of them is associated with being under stress. We think its just because they taste good and we are weak-willed.
For example, just from this past week. What I didn’t share with you was that what brought the cookies to our unit that day was an extraordinarily sad event in the life of a patient’s family. They brought the cookies to ‘thank us.’ Me and my co-worker that day talked about how sad it was, and then kind of joked about ‘but we’re gonna eat a cookie anyway.’ And I NEVER associated eating those cookies with stress. I really just thought I was eating them because they were extraordinarily tasty cookies.
And then my friend Jill, who talked about eating too much junk in the post highlighted above, had just the day before gone through a flood that potentially might have entered their home! And I don’t think it occurred to her as she ate those Little Debbies that it might be a reaction to the stress from the day before.
And one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Pastaqueen, has lived with a constant headache for a whole year. Now, I’m pretty sure she has associated the stress of a nonstop headache with eating a little too much. She wrote a most poignant blog about this.
I don’t really have an answer to this. I think it has a little to do with just being more aware, thinking about what is going on, along with a big dose of something I write to bloggers sometimes–“be kind to yourself, give yourself a little grace.” But somehow, along with being able to identify stress in our lives, we have to identify a new way to cope with it. One idea that I liked was Miz’s idea for a decadence list, filled with nonfood items to treat ourselves when we need the boost. I am really going to spend some time thinking about this, and make up a basket to keep at work in my locker and one to keep at home. Oh, yeah, and maybe one to keep in the car…no, really, my life is not stressful at all…