Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Aggressive or Passive. The choice is YOURS.

This morning one of the tweets that came through my timeline said something to the effect of “if am finally understanding how my mood is linked to binge eating.” It was all i could do not to jump up and down and yell at my computer monitor. Being pressed for time, I simply replied, “you mean how it CAN be linked. the choice is yours.”

As of now, I have not received a reply or comment. I must say that I am not surprised. I would have welcomed a healthy exchange with this person. It could have benefitted both of us.

Without going into the semantics of the tweet, I am going to take it at face value: the author CHOSE to use the word “is”. Ok, so i guess i AM going into semantics. Shoot me. Get over it. I would have chosen, and suggested, the word “can'”. Do you see the difference? Lemme ‘splain.

By using “is” in the tweet, the author has in essence surrendered him/herself to emotions/mood. S/he believes that mood/emotions have a direct link to how much food goes into his/her body. As if depression (anger/sorrow/happiness) itself is shoving unhealthy amounts of food into the pie hole. If we take a look at this realistically, we can see that this is NOT what is really happening. The PERSON is buying the craptastic food-like-substance, preparing it (well, i guess that opening a bag of chips doesn’t really count as preparing…), and putting it in their mouth.

Not the emotion.

Does emotion have the ‘ability’ to control our actions? Sometimes, I guess. I have, at times, been so overwhelmed by a combination of fatigue, sorrow, and anger, that I have cried while watching the Downy commercial with the fluffy little bear. (ok, not that one, but i’m not going to give away which one!). I ‘couldn’t control’ my joy when Kara qualified for the Olympics that I jumped up and down and shouted like a mad man. (ok, i didn’t do that, either, but that isn’t the point). What didn’t happen, in either case of extreme sadness or joy, was that I sat down and ate a large pizza, some wings, and some cheezy bread. (oh, MAN. that just made me really hungry!!) I’ve had heartbreak in my life, both personally and professionally. Did I uncontrollably sit down and eat a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s? No. Could I have done that? Yes.

“But, Gene”, you say, “not everyone has the self control that you have. I have no power over the amount of food i consume when i am depressed. You just don’t understand!”

Yes, you do. And yes, I understand.

But I used to go the opposite way. I didn’t binge. I just didn’t eat. The longest I have gone without eating is a week. Only water to drink, but nothing containing any nutritional or pseudo nutritional value. It was during a particularly dark time in my life (which, actually, I had control over and I caused. I was NOT a victim….I screwed up by choice.) During this period, I was taking an intensive review class to help me ace my NCLEX (Nursing License test). Toward the end of the sessions, I got up from my seat in the auditorium and nearly fell over because I was so weak. I’d managed to drive 45 miles to class, but had been experiencing blurred vision all morning. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

But I had CHOSEN not to eat. Why? Sure, I’ll share, because maybe it will help other people realize why they, too, might choose to binge or not eat. I did it because I felt, at the time, that FOOD was the ONE THING in my life that I had control over. I believed that all of the external choices I was making really weren’t in my control. At the time, I was afraid of potential outcomes in situations that I found (placed) myself. BUT, in my mind, if I stopped eating, I could pretty much be certain of that outcome: I would get sick. Even thought I graduated from LPN AND RN school with honors, and fully knew the physiological impact of what i was CHOOSING to do, I did it anyway.

But it was a CHOICE, made by ME, not by food. In my case, my tweet might have been, “I finally see how my mood is directly connected to my inability to eat food.”

I call Bullshit.

Realistically, I was CHOSING not to eat.  It is akin to someone saying, (and I am NOT picking on any individual here, honest!) “If i quit smoking, I will gain so much weight, so I am not going to stop.” Ummm….yes, I will give you that the chemicals in tobacco can have an accelerating effect on metabolism, and when a smoker quits, eventually their metabolism will slow. But it isn’t the absence of tobacco that causes the weight gain. It is the old simple equation of calories in > calories out. And if a non-smoker CHOOSES to either not increase their output or decrease their intake, well, then likely weight gain will result. But it is a CHOICE.

So which one will you be? A person who makes the choice to move in the direction of a healthy lifestyle, or one who chooses to binge or not exercise?

The choice is yours. Choose wisely.



  1. great post Gene. I've been struggling with a similar issue lately, though not food related. More so emotions/people/situations leading to other emotions. One less than stellar thing can ruin my whole day. But really, *I* am in control of how *I* let everything affect me. We are ALL in control of our own happiness & choices, food, other people, situations, etc. are not. But for now, i want some cheezy bread. Yum :)

  2. I couldn't have said it any better. This is exactly what I think about the situation. I do get frustrated because I think sometimes too much emphasis is put on the food intake in general. They call it a disorder. Is it? Yes.. no? I suppose. But I've been disordered, too, then. I used to chew on my knuckles when I was really nervous. Yep. When I was 10 years old. And then one day I told myself (at the age of 11), enough was enough! What I was doing was not healthy or cool and I decided to stop. There has to be a strong resolve within a person for change to happen. Control lives within. You just gotta let it out the basement.

  3. Wow, Gene, that was great. I love the story about not eating, and about the issue of control there. Sometimes, I allow myself to eat to salve emotions. And I bite my nails when I'm stressed. I do absolutely know that these are choices, even if they are hard choices. I am a huge believer that in life we should never want to give away our power. Own our power. We choose. Others don't define us. Foods don't define us. Whatever choice we make predetermines a result, and we need to remain accountable for that. It is harder for some than others, and, if it is, then you need to own who you are and get the help you need. You're welcome for mytwo cents ;-)