Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness
(c)2016 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
I’ve used fad diets but it wasn’t long before I would rationalize eating whatever I wanted. I tried the cottage cheese diet, grapefruit diet, Atkins, fasting to cleanse the body, restricting, Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, and Deal-A-Meal. I poured hours to days into planning for these diets, then most were over within a day. The ones I stuck to for weeks allowed for leeway, some excesses of my favorite foods.
My thinking behind trying any diet was, If I lose weight I’ll be lovable. This motive never varied, and of course with that idea in mind, I wanted instant satisfaction. Slim-down-quick schemes were attractive for that very reason, but never produced long-lasting success.
My problem was not the need for weight-loss although I was morbidly obese.
My compulsive behaviors around food would not change if I didn’t face all those emotions I was stuffing down. Sad? Eat. Bored? Eat. Lonely? Eat. Angry? Eat. Disappointed? Eat. Celebrating? Eat. Food became my go-to for instant relief and peace of mind until I needed no reason at all.
When I was dieting, that relief and peace of mind disappeared. I hurt! Who needs to feel, anyway? I would rationalize. Finally landing in the hospital after a suicide attempt, no longer could I deny that my way of managing life (or rather not managing) did not work. Later on in recovery from major depression, I realized food had failed me. I sought professional help with a food addictions counselor (they are rare!) and nutritionist, both of whom understood the nature of my “weight” problem. By focusing on mental health, my weight is taking care of itself.
The solution has been:
a)Taking it very slow. I’ve lost over 100 pounds in 4 1/2 years. Because of this pace, my brain and body have had the opportunity to actually change in reaction to food. Although I believed at one time there was no hope, now I know this weight loss is maintainable and that reaching my weight-loss goal is doable.
b)Becoming aware of “alcoholic foods” and avoiding them permanently. If I drink one cup of chocolate milk, I will eventually have two cups, three cups, then gallons over a period of a few days. It is a food I can never have again, just like an alcoholic can never have a beer.
c)Enjoying eating from a customized and metabolically designed food plan. Now I eat by the clock and by nutritional requirements. My hunger alarm, basically what reports when a stomach is full and informs us when we need food, is broken. No longer can I trust it to tell me the truth. Eating by the clock prevents hunger and impedes compulsive eating.
d) Seeking out available support. I saw a food addictions counselor, went to an eating disorders treatment center, and still attend a 12-step group for compulsive eaters. People there understand and remain non-judgmental. Receiving therapy for other issues put me in charge of my thoughts and emotions.
My advice to anyone struggling with weight loss would be to pause before taking a bite and ask, why am I eating this? Learning to listen to your emotions gives you the opportunity to deal with them in healthier ways. Take good care of yourself because you matter. Like any fine artwork, you will be more complete if you take the time to get it right.
You can extend compassionate love toward yourself. You’re lovable!
Comments are always welcome (see tab below) NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.