Ok, confession time. I let my mountain of to-dos loom a little too high and dark over my head, and my chocolate Easter egg went from a little less than half to a little more than zero. I’m not exactly beaming with pride about it, but it does bring up a phenomenon I find fascinating: stress-eating.
Why do so many of us take out our stress and problems on food? Who knows, really, but here is my personal opinion. When I get stressed out, a lot of it comes from the feeling that I am not in control; for example, I won’t be able to get my paper finished in time and then I’ll fail the class and the teacher will hate me and I won’t get credit and so on and so forth…No, it’s not rational or reasonable, but not much is when stress is concerned. So, with my future spinning out of my control, I turn to the one thing I know I can control: my food. There is something very liberating about knowing that there is one thing I will always have total control over, and I think that’s why I have these little binge episodes–because I can control food, I allow myself to lose control over it, which is in its own complicated way a method of asserting my own control over chaos. Simple…ha.
This may just look like a long rambling way of rationalizing and falsely justifying what is essentially a simple failure to show self-integrity. Maybe it is, but I think either way it’s a very interesting thing to think about. Why does control make me (and others) such a basket-case? Why do I need to feel in control so badly? I have no answer to offer other than that is just who I am. I am a control freak; it’s a curse and a blessing. On the one hand, I do things like stress-eat; on the other, I work my butt off to perform well and it often pays off.
Perhaps the worst part about stress-eating, for me at least, is the consequential guilt I feel the next day, heck even after a few minutes. This is what I really analyzed today. I feel guilty because I feel ‘fat’. What a loaded word that is. It’s a little ridiculous to think that one mistake is going to cause any significant weight gain…but therein lies the real problem – why should I be so deathly afraid of weight gain? I’m a healthy person. I know when I need to focus on perhaps losing a bit, and I know how to do it without starving myself and simply paying more attention to what I eat and do exercise-wise. If I gain weight, who cares? The world? My family and friends? The guy who makes my sandwich? Doubtful. And if they judge me for my appearance, that’s their issue, not mine. My body is mine. I know how to take care of it, and I can’t expect myself to be the “perfect eater” 24/7/365. No one can! And besides, perfect is NOT fun. If the world were perfect, we couldn’t appreciate little things like a kid giving up his seat on a bus for an elderly woman or a beautiful sunset, because those things would be normal. So to hell with perfect, just be.
I’m not perfect, and as much as I struggle with that, I know deep down that I wouldn’t have it any other way. Mistakes are allowed and above all human. I’m not going to look much different after a little too much chocolate, and even if I do, why should it bother me–it will change in a day or two anyway. What doesn’t change is the person I am. All that crap you hear about how college is when you learn about who you are–well, it’s not all crap.
I hope you don’t mind this ‘different’ type of post; I just needed to get it out. There was a quote on some random poster I saw, and it became a kind of mantra for me when I get a little too crazy…
“Just be. We are human beings, not human doings.”