Why Comfort Eating is Not Just About Me

This week I discovered that I felt well enough to read.

I’ve been a bookworm ever since I learned to read and the periods of time where I’ve been unable to settle down and lose myself in a book have been really difficult. It’s also one of the signs that depression is about to hit me hard; I sit and stare at the page but hard as I try the words wiggle away from me before I can work out their  meaning and I can spend hours trying to make sense of a few hundred words before I have to admit defeat.

The book I’m currently reading is a crime thriller, at complete odds with my usual genre of choice being fantasy. For some reason the type of books that I normally read can’t hold my attention so I decided to try something quite different.

It was in this book that I read the following line:

“Greed, unlike sex, involved no commitment except to one’s self, no violence expect to one’s own body.”

The more I thought about this line the more I felt that it couldn’t really be true.

I know I’m greedy, I have been for as long as I can remember. This wasn’t a problem while I was at a competitive level for long distance and cross-country running because I burnt off whatever junk food I ate and then some. It started to become an issue when I stopped running to concentrate on sixth form and exams and steadily worsened as I became more and more stressed.

After two and a half years of university things had completely spiralled out of control and I was eating thousands of calories a day in junk food to try and help me cope. Shortly before the Northern One and I became engaged I decided that enough was enough and I began a six month diet to reset my eating patterns and reach a healthy weight.

I managed to continue with reasonable eating habits and a healthy weight until I discovered that I was pregnant and then I needed all the support that I could get, even the coping mechanisms that were destructive in their own ways. I comfort ate throughout my pregnancy with chocolate being one of the few foods that I felt like eating when faced with almost constant nausea. After Squidge was born I tried to breastfeed but after a couple of weeks and two stints on the Children’s Ward I gave up on the advice medical team but carried on eating as though I was still breast feeding.

So here I am today, several stone overweight and still consuming copious amounts of chocolate, mostly in secret and all in the name of coping.

Comfort eating may well not physically affect any body but my own but I can’t honestly say that it will never affect anyone else in other ways.

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter and a friend.

I may not be able to eat healthily and stick to a proper diet for myself but I need to be able to do it for so many other people who need me to be healthy and stay that way.

I need to teach Squidge proper eating habits so that he grows up healthy and strong.

I don’t want the Northern One to end up having to look after me because I’m crippled with diabetes from consuming vast amounts of sugar year after year.

I need to stay in the best possible health so that I’m here to look after him and Squidge and be there for them for as long as possible.

I owe it to any other children that we might have to provide them with the best possible start to life and not force them to grow inside a body that.

When I was a student I looked after so many patients who were slowly destroying their bodies with alcohol, eventually reaching the stage where they were swollen and yellow because their livers had failed. They spent their days in pain, barely able to walk, unable to dress themselves or attend to even their most basic needs.

On one particular ward that I was placed on during my second year of training I saw patient after patient who had had toes and feet amputated due to poorly controlled diabetes. They knew what they were supposed to do to control their blood sugar but they just didn’t have impetus or the will power, despite being told what the alternatives were.

After having had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with Squidge I know I’m at high risk of having it again with any subsequent pregnancies and also of developing Type Two diabetes in later life. I also know how to reduce this risk – by eating healthily, exercising regularly and keeping my weight within an ideal range.

All things that I’ve failed to do.

My eating copious amounts of chocolate is no less of a crutch than alcohol is for others; a coping mechanism for the stresses of every day life that I can’t deal with on my own.

It’s also not really any healthier than alcohol and can ravage a body to much the same ends (although it uses different routes). It’s not any less likely to irreparably damage my health and make me that bit less able to be there for my family and friends when they need me.

How can chocolate be more important?

I know I have to make it less important; diminish how much it helps me cope by replacing it with better, healthier crutches but so far I’ve never found anything that works nearly as well and the thought of trying to find a new coping mechanism and the same time as coping with everything else…

Well, it has me running for the chocolate…

12 thoughts on “Why Comfort Eating is Not Just About Me

  1. Life with Bumps says:

    I’m with you.
    Trained as a nurse.
    Fully aware of health risks.
    Insatiable appetite for reading anything about health and wellbeing, ex dieter, failed dieter, once very fit, now not so fit & pregnant.
    I have a mixed up, complicated, emotional relationship with food. I need it, I want it, I hate it and wish it didn’t have such a pull.
    I medicate all emotions, reward or compress with food.
    I reward your honesty. I’m i’m here… in the sisterhood 😉


  2. Jenni - Odd Socks and Lollipops says:

    I have a complicated relationship with food, and I in turn feel guilty that I use it so much as a coping mechanism at times. If I have had a particularly stressful day the only thing I can think about is the ‘treat’ that I am going to have to make myself feel better, but all of a sudden every day has something a little stressful in it and every day you need that treat etc.
    Thanks for sharing.


  3. Laura says:

    Why do we use food as a coping mechanism? I do it too. I have just finished breastfeeding, I have given myself a two week deadline then I need to sort myself out. It needs to stop for my children’s sake, I couldn’t bear the idea of passing bad habits and associations onto them. I truly admire your honesty though x


  4. Zena's Suitcase says:

    I have a bad relationship with food too, or more specifically sugar. It’s the sort of thing you can eat and eat. I’m having one of those periods now, like you. We both deserve healthy bodies and need to be kind to ourselves. #brilliantblogposts


  5. mrshsfavouritethings says:

    I completely identify with this. I know I need to cut down on cake and chocolate and have a healthier diet. but it is really hard to do when I know that eating the bad but yummy stuff makes me feel good. I need better self-will. Hugs Mrs H xxxx


  6. Victoria Welton says:

    Chocolate is probably my biggest weakness! I think ‘being good’ when it comes to food isn’t an easy thing and it is interesting how people use it as a coping mechanism. Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo x


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