Can you write about over-eating? And I don’t mean eating disorders or people with actual medical issues, I mean people like me. People who eat as a way of coping with stress. I’m sitting here again at my desk today with a drawer full of unhealthy food and this really has to stop before I start looking like the hippo my dragon mom is so worried about.
Tortured by Weight
You have my condolences on the challenges related to having a Dragon Mom. I’m confident she’ll drive you toward some material success but, as you note, she might kill some of your spirit in the process.
Ultimately, no one can manufacture kids to meet specifications, we can only cultivate their seeds and shower them in light in an effort to help them realize their potential. All else will carry the sort of tension that leads to one having a drawer full of candy.
Let’s start with your Mom. Over time she has implanted ideas in your head that you are not worthy as yourself and you must achieve certain physical or material or social status and then you will become worthwhile. But your Mom is crazy and she’s lying to you.
She doesn’t mean to be crazy or to lie but she absolutely is. She is as innocent as you. She got taught to push you because someone likely pushed her. Or the exact opposite, and she saw that as a potential source of failure and did the opposite, but either way it’s still unconscious.
You can see that it is unconscious, because now you beat yourself up too. And if you’re not careful you’ll extend that to your potential children in the very same way. So I’m glad you wrote. Let’s stop this unhealthy inheritance from happening without more awareness.
I’m not worried about your weight. If we get you mentally healthy your weight will become whatever is natural for you. If people outside of you want to judge that then the problem isn’t with your weight—their problem is their judgment.
Try forgetting about the weight and just focus on the mental health. What’s important is that you’re experiencing stress. Your eating reaction is just a symptom. I don’t see much value in investing good time battling symptoms when we can address a root cause.
It’s highly likely that the sneaking of food (it is hidden n your drawer, after all), was also taught to you by your Mom, or someone reacting to your Mom. It doesn’t really matter what the specifics of the math is, but the formula is essentially the same:
If your mom was made to be ashamed of her weight and to feel guilty about eating, then she would hide her eating and in doing so she would subtly teach the behaviour to you.
You likely hold the phone the same way as your Mom, you likely speak, walk and stand like her too. You’re likely to buy the same brands —or avoid them— just because they are the same ones she uses.
Copying is the normal way anyone gets their unconscious life. But you’re talking about stepping into living a conscious life, which means following fewer tracks and blazing more personal trails. To do that the ‘why’ behind we do things is critical.
Eating is done for nourishment and/or joy. You have the classical, caloric and nutrient value on one side; and on the other side we have the romantic values of taste and social interaction. Neither is right nor wrong, they are just different forms of appreciating food.
There is nothing wrong with eating per se. It’s necessary, important and worthwhile. But we want to eat in a way that enriches our lives and not in a way that detracts from them. This means we each have to find our own balance between the flavour, the nutrition, the value and the meaning.
Right now, you’re not eating consciously. What you essentially have is an addiction. Not to food, but to the act of eating. This is much more like smoking than you might realize. Nicotine isn’t why most smokers can’t quit. The chemical aspect is relatively short-lived, the problem is in their thinking.
Smokers have triggers that will cue them to smoke. Times of day, collections of co-workers or friends, locations etc. etc. Smoking is weaved into their lives and they feel odd and “wrong” if they’re not doing it.
This “wrongness” is merely a reaction to a thought dead-ending. It’s an actual sensation created by what your brain is doing. We can feel it, as though we have left something out of our reality.
If we always leave our house with our wallet or purse and we forget it, we feel that. We notice its absence in a ‘something’s wrong’ kind of way. That’s the kind of addiction you have. You’re not addicted to the food, you’re addicted to thinking about certain things and in a Pavolovian response, you eat candy.
Firstly, it might be helpful to figure out what your triggers are. Work stress, maybe mirrors, maybe a slim co-worker, maybe even a phone call from your Mom. However you slice it, your brain is very selectively collecting information all day long, and something you collect incites you to eat.
Maybe if you and I walk together down a hallway where you work, I might notice the pattern of the tiles on the floor. But you’ve been trained to maybe notice and analyze the weight of the girl walking in front of us.
Then, invisibly to me, you can then use your thoughts to compare yourself (likely unfavourably) to her. If you’re with someone you’re dating you might even create one of those startling and strange male moments where we are suddenly asked (seemingly from our of the blue), ‘Do you think I’m fat?’
I would suggest you start by paying more attention to your thinking and you’ll find your triggers. But you need to get into the habit of actually actively listening to the narratives that make up your ego.
Usually, before someone can find the health they are seeking, they first need to un-ego their ego by arguing (meditating) it out of existence. You start to see that you have other options and that you choose to over-eat instead of pursuing those other options.
When asking why, you will realize you are choosing to eat out of a kind of mimicry and blind repetition that is not even really a choice of yours, it was just one that was taught to you. That will bother you, we naturally feel the impulse to be free.
You need to recognize this freedom and slowly break our habit by doing otherwise. This can be done in a variety of ways —maybe your reaction to these motivating thoughts are always met with a debate.
Maybe you substitute another behaviour like exercise. It doesn’t really matter what you choose to do, as long as you’re breaking your unconscious pattern and challenging it, then you are rewiring the matrix in your brain that is this habit.
You won’t be ‘getting healthy’ though, you’ll just be living differently. The value judgments exist only in our consciousness —judgments are not things in and of themselves.
Someone can eat creme pastries for every meal and die of heart disease at a young age, but if they enjoyed every minute of that then they got more joy out of life than most people do. There’s no right or wrong way to live, there’s just the way we choose, and its consequences.
Can you see that you can’t sit there are try not to eat? Because that’s another way of thinking about eating, and that’s your actual problem. You have to change your thinking, not your eating habits. Otherwise you’re getting the cart before the horse.
Simply put, you eat because you tell yourself to. You stop by telling yourself to do something else instead. Everything works that way. And yes, it really is that easy. The reason most people don’t try it is because they think the solution must be hard because they perceive that they have a big problem rather than a small thought issue.
I’m sorry your Mom got loaded with these crazy ideas and I’m sorry she downloaded them into you. I don’t even have to see you to know you are divinely beautiful and worthwhile.
You don’t need to achieve anything to be acceptable, you were acceptable when the universe deigned to collect a bunch of atomic-star-bits and assemble them into the energy-being that is you.
Your existence alone is proof of your value. There is nothing you need from outside yourself, you just need to have a true sense of how miraculous it is that you exist at all. It’s a stunning gift that we all take so much for granted. So you are wise to write to ensure you don’t waste any life, it’s such a valuable opportunity.
Eat because it tastes good. Exercise because it feels good. Enjoy other people’s company while you do both. But your thoughts about food and your thoughts about your value cannot be fixed by changing things in the outside world.
Health is an internal issue. It’s a state of mind. And you don’t achieve it by wanting to be healthy because want is the core of the ego’s problem. You don’t become healthy, you realize health. You do that by refusing to think the thoughts of a person you are not.
You are not the computer program your Mother accidentally programmed into your consciousness. You are the computer itself, and you can change your software whenever you become conscious that you are the programmer, not the hardware.
You are a flexing, changing, malleable, incredible being and yet you are talking as though you are some weak and fractured creature. This is a classic case of thinking small.
Yeah, your Mom will still have her thoughts about how you look. But that’s her issue. She lives with those judgments. Let her have them inside her head. But don’t consume or digest those ideas yourself without first checking to see how healthy they are. Because thinking unhealthy thoughts is about as helpful as a drawer full of candy.
peas. s 😉
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.