The Good Girls Drug

Years ago I saw a therapist named Julie.

Julie Armer; young, long red hair, Birkenstock wearing, wise and able to call me on my chit.

We started meeting when I was on the tail end of a semi nervous breakdown. At twenty-eight and with my life far from where I wanted it, I needed help to sort stuff out.

My coping mechanism was food.

At night I’d curl into bed with a bag of Teddy Grahams. I’d watch t.v. and devour the bag until all that was left were bear legs and bodies; tiny body parts crumbled against the bottom of the metallic bag.

Julie and I had long talks about the Teddy Grahams. Why did I do this? What compelled me to keep eating?How did I feel once they were finished and expanding in my belly?

The conclusion we came to was that I was filling up my stomach in an effort to control something in this uncontrolable world. What I really needed was to fill up my heart, not my gut. I know it sounds sort of ridiculous, but she was onto something. Eating to the point of fullness left little room (body and mind) to dwell on the emptiness elsewhere.

Her solution? When being pushed toward a tryst with Teddy Grahams I was to go and hug my nephew who happened to be living upstairs from me at the time. Filling with love would quell the urge toward food as a love replacement.

There’s a lot of talk online and amongst friends about losing weight, calorie control, and diet management.

I very seldom read about the emotional aspect of food as a drug, as a coping skill, as a way to manage feelings.

On Wednesday I ran into Whole Foods with my girls and a short list.

Sophie had requested the organic Blueberry lollipops we like, Grace wanted some animal crackers and I needed apples and greens.

We left with our bags filled, but instead of traditional animal crackers chose two bags of 100% natural, made by Barbara’s since 1971, Snackimals Animal Cookies in vanilla and chocolate chip.

On Thursday, after a few really stellar days for me in the healthy eating department, I went searching the cabinets for a snack. I picked up the cookies and portioned them out in a pink plastic bowl. With them I poured a cup of milk.

My intentions were pure. I was still on the straight and narrow.

When my bowl was empty I stared at it feeling blue. They tasted just like Teddy Grahams, if not a little more crisp. They crunched the same, melted on my tongue the same, tasted just the same.

Without thinking, I started to eat them out of the bag until they were gone. And then the next bag. Gone.

As if something had triggered my good sense, my managed eating habits earlier in the week had vanished from my being.

Like an alcoholic might fall off the wagon after succumbing to the pull of a little sip, I spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday in compulsive eating hell.

Unable to feel the food that I consumed, I ate more. My head knew what was happening, my alter ego (I need to name her) didn’t care. I was aware that I was spinning, but continued to find more to fill myself up.

When Brian came home with a huge lemon cake and chocolate covered Oreos it didn’t take long before I was going at the cake with a fork and eating the cookies without even checking the calorie content and fat grams on the back (130 for 2 and 13 per serving I now know).

My stomach hurt badly, so I’d give myself a break. And then start up again. A cycle of pleasure and pain and exhaustion and energy.

Why did it happen? What was I really searching for? Aren’t I happy? Don’t I have enough love, friends, health, family?

I have heard that food is the good girls’ drug. This is true. It’s not even about the food. It’s not about weight. It’s about control.

Teddy Grahams, those sweet little bears manufactured for children’s lunch boxes are as dangerous to me as crack or heroine or a bottle of pills to another person searching to fill whatever is missing inside them.

Last night after two pieces of pizza, a couple of bread sticks and three ranger cookies I fell into a “food coma” as I put the girls to sleep.

When I woke later in the evening, the mania was done, just like that. I drank a big bottle of water and settled back to sleep.

Today the food mania has stopped completely and I’ve woken up feeling better and able to see the light through the fog of the past few days.

I drank my coffee with skim milk and ate a lemon 0% Chiobani with some blackberries and half cup of Go Lean Crunch.

I sat down to write as I always do and this post came flowing out.

It’s embarrassing. I am not proud.

I would much have rather finished my piece about Maine or started to work on my guest post for Nadine about my long distance love affair with Crow. It would be easier to Pin pretty pictures; Chanel’s resort collection is breathtaking.

Since I try to speak the truth, though, I figured it might be helpful for anyone else going through a similar struggle. It also might be helpful to people who view over weight folks as food mongers and sloths. It isn’t about the food at all, so try not to judge.

In fact, a hug or a meaningful conversation about something other than food might snap them out of the cycle.

Most importantly, it is helpful to me to be able to recognize the triggers and the patterns and do what I can to avoid such occurrences in my future.

Total control will never be mine. It doesn’t exist. Not for me and not for you.

It’s a new day and I am off to yoga.

My solution. My church. I will Om with the group, get centered, and try not to judge myself or others.

But as they say in church, which will be my mantra for this Sunday, “Peace be with you. And also with you.”


Peace for you and for me.

Good girl crack.
The Peanut Butter would have been the first to go had the girls chosen them instead of the others.
Teddy Grahams. Cute, but deadly.

17 thoughts on “The Good Girls Drug

  1. Today is a new day. So yesterday sucked, eating wise. But get back on the train today soon yesterday won’t matter so much anymore. We all fall off of the train sometimes. Love.

  2. Oh, the lure of Teddy Grahams – I know that well and the whole eating/control cycle. For me, it can rear its head at predictable and not so predictable times which I think is the most frustrating. But I love this post because of your perspective and approach to this. Yes, total control will never be ours and we need to be forgiving both of ourselves and others.

    1. Have you been lured by those little f-ers?

      Thanks for re-tweeting by the way. A few people clicked your link, which is awesome!

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more – people don’t view food the same as drugs or whatever. But what you are describing can cause just as many emotional and physical health problems. Hang in there – you’re doing the right thing by just realizing what happened (and why) and forgiving yourself.

    1. Thanks! It’s a day by day thing. My goal is to have a healthy and happy life and finding better coping mechanisms is huge. I am much better at forgiving myself, but have to be careful not to turn forgiveness into an excuse to allow the cycle to repeat.

      I actually hate writing about this stuff, because it’s so misunderstood and there’s that judgmental thing that people do… assume weakness or whatever.

      I’m a firm believer that we all have our “stuff.” I’m just okay with sharing mine. πŸ™‚

  4. As someone who has had “that relationship” with food my entire life, I completely get this post. I have been mostly “on the wagon” with food of recent years but have had my setbacks. I attest any positive progress I have made to advice similar to that of your therapist and to yoga, which has slowly allowed me to become more responsive to life versus reactive. Christine at Live Life Surf tweeted the link to this article. So glad I visited. xo Ilene

    1. I love Christine!

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! I’m glad to know that despite setbacks, you have been able to stay on the wagon. I like how you put it… becoming more responsive to life versus reactive. I sometimes wonder if it will hound me forever. I’m able to not feel so badly about myself anymore when I have a setback, but it would be great to respond differently in the first place.

      Only time and hard work will tell….

  5. Unlike people with other habits, You can’t just “give up Food”. I feel your frustration. Endeavor to persevere! and did you mean Fat Grams or fat grahams :o) ?

    1. ARRRGGG Yes! Grams! All that Teddy Graham talk had me confused! See… they’re evil!

      xo πŸ™‚

  6. Thanks for being so open and honest about your food struggles. You hit the nail on the head when you say that it’s about control and making ourselves feel better. I hear other women saying, “Come one, get that dessert. You deserve it.” or “Who cares if you ate a whole bag of chips? Enjoy it.” I know there are situations where we can treat ourselves. But I don’t hear as much encouragement when it comes to making healthy food choices or exercise. Of course we’d encourage the alchoholic to seek treatment or the gambler to get help. Weight and eating is such a touchy and sensitive issue–it’s hard!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.