Has someone ever disappointed you? Have you ever been hurt by the words or actions of another person? Did you ever discover that someone you trusted was not completely honest with you?
Okay, so now that everyone reading this post can raise their hands and say that they've been there and had one (or more!) of these experiences, let me ask you another question...how did you respond to it? Has it ever driven you to food as a way to cope?
There's a great deal of information available on the topic of "emotional eating". Examples may include using food to fill an emotional void, or taking comfort from food during stressful, painful, or challenging times. While these scenarios are accurate representations, emotional eating can also be tied to eating when you are bored, social eating (joining in and eating simply because others around you are eating), pressured eating (friends, family, or co-workers urging you to eat something they have made, or to eat with them), or eating instead of facing strong emotions, among other things.
To tell you the truth, I have never really considered myself to be an emotional eater under most of these circumstances, and I can't recall ever purposely wanting a specific food in times of emotional crisis...until recently.
Last week, I had a situation where it came to light that someone I had trusted in the past had been dishonest with me several years ago about something significant. It made me mad, but it also broke my heart to know I had been lied to. It challenged my feelings of self-worth. And all I wanted was mashed potatoes...
Mashed potatoes have always been my favorite food. I like them just about every way they can be prepared. Even in my baby book, in the section about my 2-year-old self, for favorite foods my mother penned "mashed potatoes!!!" rather enthusiastically. As I have been losing weight, I knew I did not want to give them up completely, so I've trimmed them back on our family menus to only once or twice per month, and have taken out the butter and cream cheese and now use Greek yogurt in place of higher fat ingredients. Different, but still very good!
As I stewed over my new-found disappointment, the madder I got, the more I wanted to get into my kitchen and make a huge pot of mashed potatoes, complete with cream cheese and butter! I have never cooked or eaten out of emotion like this before, and at first, I really didn't even realize that was what was happening. I walked into my bedroom to change clothes before cooking, however, and the sight of my weights sitting in the corner made me stop in my tracks.
Instead of cooking and eating, I changed into sweats and chose to workout. Instead of burying my emotions in a bowl of potatoes, I worked through my feelings. I allowed myself to experience the anger, the frustration, the hurt, and the betrayal...but I didn't stop there.
By mid-way through my workout, in tears, I was reminding myself that I am valuable. The person who wronged me was just that...wrong. I refused to allow the words of others to have power over me. I would not let another person's actions to drive me to undo the work I have done with losing weight by emotionally pushing me to eat foolishly because I was upset. Every time I lifted a dumbbell, I let go of some of the hurt and I regained a little more of my freedom.
Exhausted, as I reached the cool down portion of my workout, I found myself forgiving the person who had wronged me and praying for them. I honestly hope they experience God's love in their life. In my heart, I released them from my anger, and in doing so, I received the opportunity to move on. And all without eating a single bite of mashed potatoes...