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Meet My Former Therapists: Ben and Jerry

Aug 17, 2017

 

In last week’s blog I showed just how weight could creep on over the years.

 

Slowly, unnoticed. 

 

But sometimes we know exactly how it comes on. 

 

Almost 15 years ago, just after I first got married, I felt overwhelmed.  Moving and setting up a home, living with my new husband and trying to be a “good wife” all while finishing my graduate work.  It was an unexpectedly tough time. 

 

So how did I handle the anxiety?  With daily pints of Ben and Jerry’s. 

 

I will not lie, it felt great going down--relaxing in front of the TV in the late afternoon after battling traffic and a long day at work.  I was alone in the house and I had just picked the flavor of the day from the corner store.  Ice cream tastes good.

 

Funny how quick an entire pint can go.  Because, of course, the serving size was the whole thing.  I did not even get a dish—just a spoon. 

 

Very soon after my little habit started, I noticed my pants getting tight.  Now here is the crazy thing—and I kid you not—I had no idea what was happening!! 

 

I could not figure out why I was gaining weight. 

 

(I’m pausing and smiling right now thinking about my pudgy, stressed out, naïve self.) 

 

No clue. 

 

I was not connecting the sweet relief of the daily pint of Cherry Garcia with my weight gain problem.  It took another month or so and 10 more pounds before it finally dawned on me. 

 

Why? 

 

Because I was completely unconscious about my eating.  I had no idea how many calories the pint had (almost 1000) and frankly, I did not care at that point. 

 

I was checked out. 

 

I was just looking to soothe.

 

I needed comfort and it was a longtime habit, convenient and effective to use the ice cream—until it wasn’t. 

 

Eating ice cream may have temporarily solved one problem (anxiety) but it definitely caused another (uncomfortably bigger body). 

 

The real issue was not the pints of ice cream; it was the disconnection from my feelings and my eating.  If I had realized that I was overwhelmed and found solace in appropriate places then I might have weathered the storm more gracefully and without having to buy bigger underwear.

 

Choosing to eat some ice cream for a treat is a wonderful part of life.  Downing pint after pint to alleviate an emotional symptom is inevitably torture.  It’s the difference between conscious and unconscious eating.  The more conscious we can be with our food, the more say we have in our body size. 

 

It starts with noticing. 

 

Just notice: what are you feeling? what are you eating? what are you saying?  Start there.  It’s the beginning of everything.

 

 

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