Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Colds, Flu, Allergies . . . It Does Not Matter

People have shared with me that in adapting their food to live healthier lives, they give themselves a pass when they are feeling under the weather and then cannot figure out why they are back into the throes of craving and food addiction weeks later. Today I was looking at some of my posts from two years ago when I wrote about this issue.  I have dusted the post off and updated it for today's blog.  I know it helps me to be reminded of how insidious the disease of food addiction and compulsive eating really is. Maybe it can help someone else.

When I was a little girl and I was home sick, my mom would make me my favorite cereal, soup and cinnamon toast and jello and give me ginger ale. I would get tucked into blankets on the sofa and get to watch TV all day. When I was in the hospital I would get ice cream and gifts and treats. Once an adult, as a rapidly-gaining pregnant lady with horrible morning sickness, I would get anything I wanted to eat on the rare occasions when I felt I could keep it down. The foods were always full of fat and comforting ingredients. When my father passed away in 2005 I found myself seeking comfort in the foods that he shared with me as a child: crusty Italian bread with Hellman's mayo, ham and Swiss cheese; pineapple upside-down cake; Nathan's hot dogs; pastrami sandwiches; big bowls of corn flakes with heaps of sugar making the milk gritty; the list goes on.

In losing over 220 lbs I had to learn not to medicate myself with food whether I am nursing a cold, a sprained ankle or a bruised ego. It is not easy. Often times I want the false comfort that comes with buttered farina, chocolate pudding or peanut butter cups. Today, where I once used bread pudding as substitution for a warm hug I now give myself a hand massage. Instead of ice cream for a sore throat I use a few minutes quietly reading a book and let the craving pass without acting on it with a food I do not normally eat.  When I am sick, if I seek the false comfort that would come from foods, I have to act upon these negative impulses with positive actions. Their 'comfort' was only fleeting and their ingredients only caused me to want more and more. There is a saner way. 

I cannot medicate myself with poor food choices. I choose foods that do work toward better health - not false comfort. I have peppermint tea with Splenda, and salad with a ginger dressing. Where I can, I stick to my normal plan for eating. There are no get-well gifts of food. Extra discipline in my food choice helps me makes sure that I am not seeking comfort in food. I share my food decisions with other people who are food addicts in recovery so that I am not fooling myself or being fooled by my disease of addiction.

I have been keeping the pounds off  only because I keep doing what has to be done and I do not slack off. It would be easy to say I do not feel well, poor me. Just this time I will have such and such. But would it be easy to stop having those foods once I start again? I know from my experience and the experience of countless others that the odds are against me putting the foods down once I pick them up. So I am not picking up the comfort foods. I am keeping the pounds off and hoping the germs will follow them out the door!



E. Jane said...

Such a relevant and good post! I am one who has been struggling with influenza for about a week and a half, and I can tell you that it is a real challene to stay on my program. Great reminder for me and everyone!

Jane Cartelli said...

I know I feel better FASTER and stay well LONGER when I stay within my eating guidelines. I hope you feel better SOON!


Pretty Pauline said...

This is excellent. Sadly, even my reaction to Tsunami footage was to stress eat, and I'm halfway across the world! It's a gained insight though...

Jane Cartelli said...

It is when I do not allow myself to feel the stress that I reach for the food. With the resulting radiation disaster I had to share my feelings of anxiety so I would not pick up any number of wrong food choices and amounts. In feeling it I had to be aware that the drama queen in me wanted to act up - and sooth her without food. Petulant DQ that I am, it took me a few hours to accept it was not in any way about me and I needed to move on. Progress, not perfection!


Lisa said...

When I get sick I tend to revert back to "old ways" and eat comfort food. It's a hard habit to break but being conscious of it and reminding myself HEALTHY food will get me well faster, I do better.

By the way, I love the photo of you and your daughter (?) sharing the pants. It's a profound photo!

Jane Cartelli said...

That is my youngest daughter, now 22. We took that photo almost 4 years ago when I was about 225lbs. How, four years later and I am still here. Now I could fit my husband inside the pants with me.