I ate my emotions in a burrito bowl – sage advice for heavy times

Who knew a burrito bowl could hold so many emotions?  Well, it did, and I ate.them.all.  In record time.

Let me give you a little back story, so I don’t lose you.  For a solid 15 years, I ate my emotions.  Regularly.  Happy?  Celebrate with food.  Sad?  Soothe with food.  Stressed?  Calm with food.  You get the idea.

Even after losing 70 pounds, emotional eating was a challenge for me.  Sure, I had dialed in how to eat to lose weight and maintain it, but certain things still triggered that need to compensate with food.

About 4 years ago, I finally figured out my groove.  When I made time to take adequate care of myself, not just with food, but with sleep, stress management, mindset, and fun movement (instead of only structured exercise), the emotions didn’t drive me to food.  Because I felt satisfied and cared for in my life…by me.  I’m not even saying that I have to follow a plan perfectly, even now, to keep emotions out of my food.  It just needs to be good enough.

Since finding my groove, emotional pitfalls into bowls of ice cream have become few and far between.  In fact, they don’t even stand out in my memory anymore because they aren’t really a thing.

Until 3 days ago.

Over the last 3 weeks, I’ve been taking care of my hubby who had surgery on his dominant arm.  So this put parenting, driving, food shopping and cooking, yard and housework squarely on my shoulders.  I didn’t think it was taking a toll.  Sure, I was getting less sleep.  Yes, I was running around more.  Of course, my care-taking of others had to step up.  But I wasn’t feeling maxed out.

And then we traveled to a fencing tournament.  3 hours away, one way.  Stayed there for about 3.5 hours, and then drove back home.  And we stopped at Chipotle for dinner.  YUM.

I am NOT one to avoid restaurants, because I love having a night off from cooking.  Who doesn’t?  So it’s not like it had been forever since eating out.  I even have my standard order because I’ve dialed in what I love at Chipotle without overstuffing my belly.

Standing in line, selecting what was going into my burrito bowl, I fell in to some really old, past selections.  In other words, it ended up being about twice what I normally have these days.  I really didn’t even dawn on me until I started inhaling.  BIG time.  Cramming a burrito bowl down, I was thinking about the stress of how worried I had been about my hubby and his rehab, how I was worrying about traffic going home.  I had sadness over watching my hubby struggle eating his own burrito one-handed.  Suddenly, I had tears welling up, so I had to take another bite to stuff them down.  I started wondering if I had been parenting our boys well enough during a busy time, if I had neglected their needs in any way.  More emotions, more bites.  Until it was gone.  But the feelings were still there.

Three weeks of not giving myself enough attention had come to the peak while eating a burrito bowl.

The remainder of the drive home gave me a long time to reflect on my brief return to a past challenge.  And here’s what I discovered:

  • While I had been eating well and moving some, I wasn’t protecting my sleep
  • Even though I had been moving, it wasn’t as consistent as I needed
  • I had been going through the motions without actively seeking joy

I knew that I could either drown my frustration with ice cream when we got home, or I could use my realizations to turn it around.

I chose the latter.

When we got home, I didn’t punish myself mentally or physically.  I simply resumed life as normal with a twist: I made sure I got good sleep that night.  And I started the next day seeking joy as soon as I woke up, and naturally found it in my first cup of coffee. 😉  Finally, I got in a short, but super intense workout to get my endorphins pumping to flush out the worry floating in my head.

Here’s why I’m sharing this with you: 

Our journey with food and caring for ourselves is never over.  It just changes scenery.

A decade ago, my emotional eating would have looked very different, as it would have spanned several meals.  Today, it looks like a burrito bowl.  No matter what food solutions I try, it doesn’t change the emotions.  And it doesn’t change the fact that I need to do at least an ok job of caring for myself to kind of keep it all moving in a tolerable direction with fewer challenges and hiccups.

Here’s another reason why I’m sharing this with you:

Don’t get sidelined by challenges. 

Use them to learn more about yourself and what you need.

With the holiday season on our doorstep, this is a good reminder to us all.  We don’t need to be perfect with how we eat, exercise, sleep, or manage stress.  We DO need to at least make a consistent effort to give ourselves attention, even in the smallest of ways.

This time of year is often when old habits pop up, past feelings come to call, and present challenges seem larger than life.  We feel short on time with long to-do lists.  We are pulled in many directions and lose focus on what we need to simply feel good.

If you can relate to any of this, you need to check out Holiday Damage Control.  It’s 6 weeks of strategies to help you through the holidays feeling your best mentally and physically.  You don’t have to figure it out all on your own!