When a fitness magazine survey asks: "Are you an emotional eater?" I have always marked no. And I really believed marking the "No" next to Emotional Eater box was true because recently I have not run to 7-11 at midnight for a couple pints of Hagen Daas or snuck Doritos in my desk drawer or driven through MDonalds for chocolate shakes and french fries. I don't do those things anymore is more accurate, and in hindsight, it's obvious I've always been an emotional eater.
When I was in junior high and when my mother would go on her weekend dates and leave me alone in the house for the night and sometimes all night, I would test my independence and try to stave off loneliness by riding my mom's ten-speed bike down Wilshire Boulevard in night-time traffic, heart pumping, until I reached Thrifty's. I'd get a pint of mint chip ice cream, and I'd put the bag in the claws of the rear rack and race home. Then, me and my friend Mint Chip would spend the night with Mr. TV - I loved Mr. TV-- and both those guys always made me feel good and secure.
I moved to Berkeley when I was 19 - not sure why. Do something different. Go on an adventure. I lived on Shattuck in a shabby, run-down one room hotel room with a sink and a community bathroom that I shared with maniacs in bathrobes and institutional runaways, it seemed. The hotel was above a pipe shop, a laundry mat and a McDonalds. And I kept buying meals that consisted only of large french fries and large chocolate shakes until I felt sick. I don't know why. As I wandered around the Berkeley streets alone wondering what the fuck I was doing there – anywhere -- all I wanted to eat was french fries and chocolate shakes. A girl I met told me - not in an apologetic way - she was a binger and a purger so I decided to try it with my potato-icecream meals, and even though I was really sick about what I was eating, I was unable to get myself to throw up. I mean, I did succeed in getting some chunks and globs out here and there, but that repulsed me.
I guess these type of stories go on and on throughout my growing up and adulthood whether I want to admit it or not, and it's kinda sad, I think, to just be admitting it now. This last week I was worried about the business that I closed in December because it WON'T DIE ALREADY-- and I can't get closure on the whole mess yet and that's scary and nerve wracking. And as my stomach was in knots and as I was praying it would all be ok, I had pulled out a loaf of Ezekiel bread and slathered a couple pieces with flaxseed margarine and shoved them in my mouth before thinking about it. I chewed and thought and worried. It made me feel better, I think. I don't know. In that moment, for the first time I thought, Oh Shit, I am eating only out of worry, and maybe I've always done this (DUH). The quality of my food has changed dramatically - thank god -- but it doesn't change the fact that I just blindly shove food in my mouth when I feel lost or alone. And I'm a little exhausted by the notion of now having to tackle this Mindful Eating shit too because I've obviously been in denial this whole time because I obviously don't want to give up my snack friends when I'm in emotional need. But now that I've admitted all this I'm obliged to put the Ezekiel bread back before three slices are gone into the abyss of unsatiated worry.