Breaking Bad… patterns

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 Permalink

Despite my antipathy towards keeping the food log as requested (*ahem* required) by my dietician/psychologist; as I noted in my last post, I diligently wrote down everything I consumed between appointments 1 and 2 (and continue to do so now).

In my Raging against the machine post, I wrote about the inner turmoil which came with the need to keep a food journal – although I realised it was less about the journaling and more about having to show it to someone that was problematic for me (given my nervousness about being ‘judged’). Nevertheless, the keeping-of-the-food-log magnified a few issues for me; and unsurprisingly the therapist picked up on these at our last appointment as well.

LifestyleCreated-InspirationalQuotes6 Firstly, I’d started binge-eating again. ‘Twas just on weekends, although it was increasing (as I had my first mid-week binge just before seeing her last weekend). Whether reverting to the binging behaviour I’d avoided for a nearly two months was a result of the food log, I’m not sure. Perhaps it was my own long-nourished defence mechanisms rearing up against something that was threatening them – ie. getting ‘better’. Perhaps my mad monkey mind knew I was finally onto it and kicked into overdrive. I don’t know. But – it’s meant that for over a month now I’ve ended each weekend at least a couple of kilos heavier than I start it. My healthy weekday behaviour then only exists to get back to where I was before the previous weekend started. Hence my hovering from 105.5 – 108kg. Week after week.

But, it’s a slippery slope and after my first mid-week episode (in some time), I didn’t recover to the lower weight by the end of the week. (Danger, danger Will Robinson!) 

The second thing I’ve noticed from the food log have been my eating patterns. I’ve long talked about being a ritual kinda gal. And no… I’m not referring to the sacrificing of virgins or drinking of chickens’ blood or the like. Obviously.

Instead, I mean that there’s always got to be a bit of ceremony around my binges. I rarely stand at a counter and scoff stuff down. Rather I plant myself in my armchair in front of something GOOD on television (not just any old rubbish – I need to be able to watch a favourite show, have good stuff taped, or watch a DVD etc), with my treats before me. I also rarely eat out of a packet, so rice cakes (my latest fetish), corn chips (my previous fetish) etc are poured into a nice large bowl or dish for easy partaking.

The Book of Bad Habits  For Young (and not so young!) Men and WomenLiving alone makes eating anywhere OTHER than in front of the television difficult. Last June I wrote here about my need to eat more mindfully and perhaps sit at a table to dine, sans television or other distractions. But I NEVER DO IT. And in the lead up to my latest appointment I pondered more on the matter. Eating alone at a table..? Hmmm. I decided really couldn’t imagine doing it… after all, what would I think about? Day after day. Week after week. What would occupy my mind? My body doesn’t mind being still, but my mad monkey mind hates it.

But… you guessed it. The ‘instructions’ from my therapist I mentioned in my last blog post include just that: I must eat at a table without the television on, with no reading materials in front of me; and not at my computer (which is where I eat breakfast). Gulp!

It started Sunday, this mindful eating. I dragged out my placemats (usually only used when I have guests) and have been plonking myself at my kitchen bench each meal. I have to very consciously move my phone away from me – lest I check messages; and remove all reading fodder – including brochures and the like, because I can’t help myself. (I am allowing myself to eat at my desk at work, as it’s a non-problematic place for me to eat… a necessary evil, if you like.)

Other than my ‘in front of the television mindless eating and occasional binges’ I’ve pinpointed another ‘dangerous’ pattern: drinking a glass or two of wine / champagne in the bath, while reading. I never just bathe and well… do nothing unless I’m in  a tremendous hurry. At a bare minimum I have a magazine to occupy me, but mostly I have a steady supply of books lurking beside the bathtub. Weekly or twice-weekly visits to my local library means the pile remains well-stocked. But… while reading is exercising my mind, it’s a bit of a red flag for me. Firstly my *somewhat* obsessive behaviour means it’s impossible for me to read for 10 minutes or 30 minutes. No, I have to read for a couple of hours. If I start a book I want to finish it. It’s rare it takes me more than a couple of days (ie. two sessions in the bath) to read a book. In fact, often after lolling about from 6.30-8.30pm (when I really  HAVE to get out for good stuff on TV and to cook my dinner), I often feel compelled to get back in there after I finish watching TV and blogging (for finish my book), which leads to later-than-planned nights.

St. Helena Olive Oil CompanyI now seem incapable of reading anywhere OTHER than in the bathtub. Which is not necessarily ‘that’ unhealthy other than the fact that it actually means I cook, eat and go to bed significantly later than planned.

So, I have two strategies for overcoming this. Firstly, I’m cutting down my reading habit. Yes… desperate times, desperate measures and all of that. Plus I’m TRYING to learn to read in bed (Yes, I know… egad!). I’m sure that once upon a time I used to be able to read while lying down (I’m not sure I can read sitting up… but lying in bed reading I could manage!)

I published my ‘case plan’  a week or two ago and talked about the cognitive and behavioural aspects of my over-eating behaviour; so obviously my therapist and I are starting to target my behaviour. I have some very bad habits (finely honed over many years) and the food journal (dastardly b@stard of a thing!) has pinpointed some very obvious patterns. Although I would much prefer to continue eating comfortably in front of the TV and associating entertainment or fun with treats, I need to start working on some of these patterns if I’m ever going to get to where I need to be.

Interestingly I’ve already not-succeeded once (notice I avoided saying ‘failed’? Well, I didn’t but edited it out!), eating my Sunday evening dinner in front of TV without a second thought. I didn’t even realise it until later that evening. But… I have some strategies in place and I’m trying. And that’s all I can do.

Do others (out there) have similarly unhealthy behavioural patterns? And, are they easily identifiable?

 

20 Comments
  • Karen@WaistingTime
    April 3, 2012

    Reading absolutely leads to mindless snacking for me. It is part of why I read much less now than I used to. (that and all the blogs I read instead of books…) I prefer to read laying on my couch. One thing that helps me is to instead force myself to sit upright in a chair and read so that I can be drinking rather than nibbling.

    As for eating at the table, paying attention, ugh. I did that as an experiment once and no doubt it cut back on my snacking! But I always read or watch TV when eating unless hubby and I are sharing a meal, which happens less and less with his new eating plan. I really missed eating lunch in front of the TV most of all.

    • Debbish
      April 3, 2012

      I have to admit I’m struggling with the mindful eating thing. I always rush about in the mornings and usually eat breakfast as I check emails, blogs etc and having to sit (even for the 5mins it takes me to eat brekkie!) while I could be doing other things is frustrating.

      I actually don’t really ‘eat’ when I read – because like you I prefer to lie down to read so if I can encourage myself to do that (though in bed, rather than in the bath until midnight!) it might work!

  • Satu
    April 3, 2012

    “Just eating” is probably one of the most difficult accomplishments there is! I’ve experimented with chocolate and at least once I’ve managed to eat one piece of chocolate mindfully. 🙂 Even if I manage to just eat, my mind babbles almost all the time….

    I think I’ve a permanent muscle knot on the left side of my neck because I read laying on my right side while I lean on my right elbow . I refer to it as my “forbidden pose”, because I’m supposed to avoid it.

    • Debbish
      April 3, 2012

      Satu, I love that saying ‘my mind babbles’ because mind does that as well. I’ll make mental lists or something, but figure it’s better than being COMPLETELY distracted (well, I hope it is!).

      Deb

  • Jess
    April 3, 2012

    Wow this was really eye opening. I’m a ritual eater too. Although I have dinner with hubby and the kids, every other meal is in front of the tv or my iPad and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

    • Debbish
      April 3, 2012

      Yes Jess, it’s a strange one. Before my therapist told me I ‘have’ to do it, I couldn’t imagine doing it… eating EVERY meal at home by myself at a table while doing nothing. As I’ve said I’ve had a slip up already (and then was out with friends one night)… so tonight will be my next big challenge!

  • nondiscrypt
    April 3, 2012

    What don’t eat in front of the telly ? I’d probably try that but that’d involve moving all my unfinished ironing piles off the kitchen table!

    Seriously though, you’ve got me thinking. I have been known to unconsciously scoff my meal and then look down surprised to find that my bowl is empty (of course I then have to head back for a more conscious second serving !)

    I am going to try to challenge myself to mindful eating at the table for the rest of the week (particularly over the easter weekend. At the moment I’m still struggling with the important decision of fruit or no fruit in my hot cross bun and if I’m not careful I know I’ll end up getting both!)

    • Debbish
      April 3, 2012

      I’m intrigued about the hot bun issue… is it cos you don’t like fruit? (I don’t but am also coeliac, so they’re out for me anyway!)

      I actually don’t even have a dining table any more – getting rid of it to bring my study downstairs, but have a kitchen table AND outdoor setting – perhaps I’ll try to eat outdoors on the weekend so it feels ‘special’.

      The thing that scared me the most was how – despite planning to eat at the kitchen bench – I completely forgot and ate in front of TV, not realising I did it for ages later!. (Eek! Talk about mindless eating!)

      Deb

  • Rachel from Redcliffe Style
    April 3, 2012

    I have so many routines and can easily fall into new ones. I think it’s fantastic that you are becoming aware of your triggers etc. Good luck with the next step. Rachel x

    • Debbish
      April 3, 2012

      Thanks Rachel. I have to say the food log was kinda useful despite my angst about it. The good thing is that I’m not having to record amounts, calories and the like – just what, when, where and why. And I guess that’s the focus for the therapist.

      Deb

  • KCLAnderson (Karen)
    April 4, 2012

    I applaud you for your awareness and willingness to look at your patterns. That really is a huge part of this whole process. I also think that being willing to experiment with a pattern and to be honest about how it works (or doesn’t work) for you is key.

    I have several patterns, some of which I have made peace with and others I am trying to change. I eat breakfast and lunch in front of my computer…and I have made peace with it. It became this thing I “shouldn’t” do but the fact is, I don’t eat too much or mindlessly when I in front of the computer (with one big exception, that is when I make a choice to binge, but that very rarely happens any more). In fact, I tend to eat more slowly while surfing. Eating fast is a pattern I am constantly working on changing. I tend to eat too fast in social situations or even at the dinner table with my husband. Another pattern I am changing is properly preparing and presenting my food (when I eat in front of the computer).

    • Debbish
      April 4, 2012

      Karen, I have to say… at the moment like you, I probably eat more slowly in front of my computer because when eating at the table I’m impatient for it to finish (which is probably why I’m supposed to do it, make it ‘less fun’!) so I’m eating quickly.

      I’m still eating lunch at my work desk, as I now use my lunch break to exercise, or skip it so I can leave at 5pm without feeling guilty.

      As you say, it’s good to be able to identify these patterns and start doing something to address them if you need to!

      Deb

  • Yellow Haired Girl
    April 4, 2012

    Fantastic post – I think it’s so great that you’re becoming aware of some of your eating “traps”. I always eat while distracted by technology, and it’s probably not the best. Breakfast is eaten while reading blogs and answering comments on my own blog. Lunch (when I can get home to eat it) is usually in front of the TV or while answering emails. Supper – it’s TV time again. And while I always portion out my meals, and almost never go back for more, I know I’m in an unhealthy pattern. I don’t pay attention to my meals. I scarf them down, and sometimes don’t remember eating them at all. So I’m making a conscious effort to sloooooow down while I eat and that way I can savour and appreciate my meals 🙂

    • Debbish
      April 4, 2012

      I think it’s great that you are good with your portion size and control. In all honesty it’s probably the eating in front of TV which is the most dangerous for me. (Like Karen said, when she’s on the computer she’s eating more slowly and I’m like that – cos I need to pause to type etc!)

      I have to say, the table eating is more problematic than I thought… I have to push every scrap of paper away from me so I’m not tempted to read ‘distractedly’: post it notes… everything. I picked up a condiment bottle yesterday morning to read as I was eating and had to stop myself. It’s an interesting challenge!

      Deb

  • Laura Jane @ Recovering Chocoholic
    April 5, 2012

    Oh my, just eating without any distractions is so much harder than it sounds. I’ve tried it, and it’s hard. It’s not so bad when I’m eating with my husband, but sitting at the table all by myself with nothing to do but eat just feels silly and boring. I often eat in front of my computer while reading blogs.

    • Debbish
      April 5, 2012

      Very true Laura Jane. I sit at my kitchen bench looking around trying hard NOT to look at anything on the counter (lest I read a label or brochure…). I understand the point of it, but not sure it’s something I want to do EVERY meal. Someone suggested I just do it for my evening meals which might make sense!

      Thanks for visiting.
      Deb

  • Mum of Adult Kids
    April 6, 2012

    My vice is chocolate… which makes Easter a very dangerous time indeed!

    • Debbish
      April 6, 2012

      You are in some serious trouble then. (My next post, after the patterns’ one, was about my reaction to my therapist’s edict! I was not a happy chappy!)

  • Lou Lou
    April 6, 2012

    You are not alone in this, everyone has habits and patterns, the only thing that differs the vice. Not everyone, however, is brave enough to face it straight on, enlist the help of a professional and try their hardest to move forward! Well done, you will make it in the end!

    • Debbish
      April 6, 2012

      Thanks! Guess I am owning up to them – which is a start…

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