Food & Drink Magazine

Frustration = Chocolates

By Gjosefsberg @gjosefsberg

YUM!I’m writing this on Thursday, October 20th. I’m frustrated and angry. The details are unimportant but the results on my eating are. To preface this, I want to say that I had a great day so far. I ran 5 miles this morning, had a healthy breakfast with some nuts and a bit of fruit and then a healthy lunch (chicken). I haven’t had a diet coke all day (had one this entire week) and I’m feeling great.  And then it happened, I had a really crappy meeting and I was annoyed.  I didn’t feel like working and I didn’t feel like talking to anyone.

Binge Eating Ahead

In the past, this would mean a trip to McDonald’s and 3000 calories of junk food plus a gallon of diet coke.  Seriously, my usual “I’m frustrated and I want to hit someone” order at McDonald’s was a double quarter pounder with cheese, 20 nuggets, two snack wraps, fries and an extra large diet coke.  That’s an insane amount of food, especially when you consider this isn’t instead of any of my regular meals, it’s in addition to it.  I would always justify it though by saying to myself “well, they screwed you over and you’re allowed a treat to feel better.”

Today

I really felt like walking over there today and just chowing down on that junk food.  I’ll get to what stopped me in a second but what I did instead was walk over to Safeway, buy a small bag of chocolate (Lindt Truffles!) and ate four of them in a conference room all by myself.  I can hear you now, “wait, how is this better?”  Well, because four lindt truffles is 220 calories and they made me feel better.  That’s way better than the crazy amount of food I would have eaten at McDonald’s or Taco Bell which would have made me feel even more miserable and guilty.

Should I have eaten zero food?  I suppose, but that wasn’t really an option.  I needed something to relieve the stress and make myself feel better and, since my wife is not here to talk to and my dog is not here to play with, chocolate will have to do.

What Changed?

Ultimately, I realized that using my frustration as an excuse to overeat was stupid.  I can either be an adult about all this and accept responsibility for my health or I can be a child and sulk in the corner with some french fries.  The same applies to my job by the way.  I can choose to be unprofessional, throw a tantrum and quit or I can choose to take a quiet 30 minutes break in a conference room, relax and then get back to work.  It’s ok to need a little break.  It’s ok to say “hey, I do need a treat” or “I need a break”.  What isn’t ok is to go overboard.  That’s the difference between handling things as an adult and handling them as a child would.

A child knows no limits (well, depending on age).  A minor issue and they throw a tantrum.  Give them a box of chocolates and they’ll scarf down as much as they can eat with no thoughts of the consequences.  An adult knows moderation.  An adult knows reason.  An adult can weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision even when upset.

So yes, I thought about what had happened.  I recognized the fact that I was upset and needed a break.  I also recognized the fact that I was hungry and really needed a treat.  I combined all of those things into a break and four pieces of chocolate.

My Responsibility

My health (and career) is my choice.  I can either look for reasons to harm it (“I need to eat because I’m angry”, “I need to eat because I want something sweet”, “I need to eat because that smells so good”, “I need to eat because I’m sad”) or I can look for ways to improve it.  Sure, sometimes I need a little break and that’s fine, but the difference between being an adult and being a child is the difference between a quick and responsible break and a temper tantrum.

I feel good right now.  I took responsibility for both my job and my health.  I made the right choice.  I even used this 30 minute break productively by writing this post.  I feel better now both emotionally and physically and I’m going to go back to work.

Last Three Years

It’s funny because this is a problem I’ve solved once before.  Four years ago I wasn’t binge eating at all and I was in the best shape of my life.  So what happened between then and now?  Life happened of course.  I got divorced, I went through a long bout of depression, I changed jobs and, most recently, I fell in love and got married.  Yes, even guys have problems with eating due to emotional reasons.  We hide it better but it’s true.  It’s only now that I’m happy that I can recognize some of the ways in which my bad behavior was linked to my emotions.  The lesson in this, for me and for you, is that you can’t fix your health without also fixing your life.

Being healthy is easy and we all know it.  Eat healthy, eat less and exercise more.  The real question is, what’s going on in your life that’s preventing you from being healthy?


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