The Holidays, Whacked-Out Food Behaviors, Milestones, and Willingness

Fall is finally setting in around here, although in Texas that doesn’t mean much. We could be back in the high 80s in a day or two. Thanksgiving is less than a week away as I mark a meaningful milestone: as of today, it has been one month since I have binge-eaten. I’ve consistently been mindful and careful about what I’ve eaten.

Holiday Musings & Whacked Out Food Behaviors

Although, as noted in my last post about relapse, Binge Eating Disorder recovery circa 2017 is not my first go-round with it, I’d been sliding back into it to the point that it’s been a long time since I’ve worked so hard to remain focused and not allow myself to tune out by using food.  We’re not hosting Thanksgiving this year, which makes it a lot easier for me not to have to face hard decisions about what to prepare.
At Christmas, though, we’ll have a full house, and I am so happy and excited about my kids all coming home at the same time that I’ve already started prepping their bedrooms. And, I’m also doing a lot of thinking about what I will and will not do, food-wise, when they are home. I do not have a healthy relationship with food, and I know I don’t, which is why I know the stuff I’m about to tell you is whackadoodle bananas:

If I were still stuck in my ED (and I’m not even close to being in a “safe zone,” so don’t let me fool ya. I’m still white knuckling it here nearly every night), my pattern would be like this: about the time my kids are all getting here, I’d suddenly get the bright idea (READ: come up with an excuse–) to make cookie baskets as gifts for service-type people (UPS driver, postal worker, etc.), in order to do what I said I wasn’t going to do, which was to whip up some combination of sugar and fat and just happen to have lots of left-overs that I would not be able to “stay out of”, and, although I told myself it would not be “a big deal,” inevitably, having lots of sweet stuff around would also impact 2/3 of my adult children’s abilities to eat healthy while home visiting. It’s like some kind of madman Hallmark Christmas movie mentality of what the holidays are “supposed to be like” infected my mind and it’s not until I’d be coming out of a sugar-induced stupor that I’d realize, “Oh, shit. I did it AGAIN. This stuff’s GOT TO go.” And given that the whole thing is shame-based anyway, it’s not like I would say any of this stuff out loud. One of the hallmarks of BED is being glad/relieved when the “problem food” is gone, even though the method of “getting it gone” is often eating it. THEN the shame sets in for eating like that.
I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: Binge Eating Disorder is a mind-fuck. It’s an insidious mental illness.

I’m trying to get ahead of it this year by thinking through the impulse that drives me to sabotage managing my ED in a healthy way–and I did handle it healthily for several years, while I was in therapy. Then I became complacent, and it can’t happen again.

One recent year, my daughter was really angry with me for making all that junk, and I struggled to come up with an adequate “WHY” I’d done it, KNOWING–if I allowed myself to be honest with myself–which is a high order when stuck in what is basically a swirling toilet of relapse behavior–that it would trigger BED behavior in her, too. At that point, I was not just telling myself that I was replicating something that made the holidays special; I was also replicating my mom’s behavior of pretending things aren’t as fucked up as they are.

Here’s the weird part about falling off the metaphorical wagon, even if the substance being abused is food as opposed to booze or drugs. No matter how long it’s been, the stuff tastes the same, and no longer how long it’s been, one of anything is never enough. I have truly eaten enough of that stuff to last me a lifetime, by now.
For the record, I’m not baking this holiday season, and I’m remaining vigilant and aware of my thinking so I can catch myself if I start that magical thinking and blind pursuit of something that has nothing to do with being with my family, but everything to do with feeding an addiction.

As noted above, it’s been a month since I last binge-ate. Actually, it was probably even a day or two before the day I met with Dr. Malladi, the bariatric surgeon, on Oct. 18. On that day, and from that point forward, I made up my mind, as noted in this post.
When I began this journey toward gastric sleeve surgery (hopefully in March 2018), one night when I was feeling especially shaky, I found this necklace on Etsy and I ordered it so that every time I look in the mirror, I see this message: I WILL. I CAN.

As the date marking the month since I met with Dr. Malladi began to approach, I ordered myself something else, and it arrived (perfect timing) yesterday.

I love that the artist wrapped it and even wrote an encouraging note on a card inside, as well as packaged it in a cute little heart bag. Unlike the bracelet in the image, mine has my first initial, B, instead of J: here’s the link on Etsy.

What’s next in the world of pre-surgical doctor appointments…
Monday morning, I have a Well-Woman Check up with my primary care doc, and in the afternoon, I have a consultation to set up my sleep study with the sleep doc. Tuesday morning, I have an upper GI study Endocsopy.

I’ve been studying a Weight Loss Surgery Workbook, and when I read about Willingness today, it really struck me as meaningful. I often think of myself as having a strong will–once I make up my mind, I can do anything.

But this was more about one’s willingness determining the success of WLS (Weight Loss Surgery.) Weight Loss Surgery is a tool, not a magical fix-it. It is completely possible to regain weight even with one’s stomach reduced to the size of a skinny banana; it’s possible to stretch out the stomach, too. The willingness is about following food restrictions for the rest of one’s life, as well as taking care through exercise & taking vitamin supplements. The question is: am I willing to live my life without using foods like sugar to excess or high fat foods, which can make a WLS patient ill?

I believe I am; however, I have chosen to begin living NOW without the sorts of foods that will interfere with WLS success. No caffeinated drinks &/or soft drinks are allowed (they cause stomach irritation/gas), and I have already gotten myself down to 1 Diet Coke a day. I used to drink at least 4-5 per day. I’m not eating simple carbs. I’m already modifying my behaviors.

I’ve got a couple of paths to choose from here. I choose the one that will give me the best possible outcome to get rid of my sleep apnea & hip pain!

Another thing about being willing? I am willing to make this as successful as possible. Normal weight loss is 40-70% of one’s excess weight; I’m already working on losing weight so that I’m bound to lose as much as possible. All I have to do is walk any distance and experience the pain in my hips to remind myself of my goal.